Can we have the RAW files from our wedding?
I get asked this question a few times a year so I thought it was worth writing a blog post! If a couple asks if they can have the RAW files from their wedding day, I politely decline. Here’s why:
A raw file isn’t an image. It’s information gathered by the camera sensor and delivered on a memory card. RAW files allow professional photographers to keep as much information as possible within the file for it to be edited. Photographers take their RAW images, upload them into a program, and then edit them before they’re compressed into an actual image.
I wish I could take credit for this, but I heard this example a few years ago and thought it made a lot of sense:
A RAW file is like giving someone these ingredients in a pan and calling it a birthday cake 🙂 Makes sense, doesn’t it?! RAW files also take up A LOT more space on the computer because they’re uncompressed– they haven’t been “baked” into an image yet!
Second, our post-processing is part of our final product and contributes greatly to our photography style. If someone wants our RAW files and intends to edit the images themselves, it takes away half of what WE bring to the images. Our editing is part of our brand. Our couples pay us to give them a final gallery that’s consistent with our brand. If we release our RAW files, we’re giving someone else the freedom to create with our images!
For example, here’s a before and after of our editing, but remember the image on the left is not a RAW file; it’s an unedited jpeg file. Are you following?!
And finally, sometimes we have a tendency to overshoot (better safe than sorry, right?!). Culling through the RAW files is a large part of preparing a wedding gallery. We remove files that are out of focus, duplicates, unflattering, or worthless. We shoot so much that removing these files still provides our couples with PLENTY of pictures! Our last bride and groom were given more than 1400 pictures in their final gallery.
Trust your photographers to tell your wedding story in their style with the images they decide are worth keeping. You’ve invested in them; let them do the work!