Why Don't Photographers Give out Raw Files

Why Don't Photographer's Give Out Raw Files

Hey there! So, you’re wondering why photographers are a bit stingy when it comes to handing out those raw files, huh? Well, think of it like this: raw files are like a chef’s secret recipe. They’re the ingredients that need some magic touch to turn them into a mouthwatering dish.

Let's go a bit deeper with this metaphor. Roll with me here.

Chefs have carefully chosen raw ingredients which is the first part in their craft, but there’s definitely more to it. What can make a dish so tasting and divine is how it is prepared and cooked with those raw ingredients. It’s similar to that with photographers. The chef’s ingredients are equivalent to the raw photos that we as photographers capture.


An every day person can walk into a store and buy ingredients. In fact, you can probably find meals that you can make with those ingredients. Many people can pick up a camera and take a photo, too. But that’s not the only thing that makes the art and value what it is. It’s the final product. The final dish is what a chef does with the ingredients or what a photographer does to create a portrait.


Editing raw files can sometimes be a long and tedious process and a photographer wants to make sure that each photo is shown with the fine tuned editing, the color correction, and the skin retouching.  In the same way, a chef wanting to make sure their creation is served up just right as well.


With any artist, we all want our work to be a true reflection of our talent and style, and handing out raw files could mean someone else could mess with the final creation and masterpiece. Most likely, if you have done your research in hiring your photographer, you are seeing their style of work in their portfolio before you have even worked with them.

In other words.....

If you don’t like the Chef’s culinary masterpiece…you wouldn’t order it. You would take your business to a restaurant whose cuisine you absolutely LOVE and ADORE. By the same token, if you don’t dig a photographer’s editing style, hire a photographer who’s style you are in love with. It’s that simple!


I promise you, a photographer would much rather be turned away based on their editing style than be booked only to realize later that their client doesn’t actually trust them to deliver their finished product.


And let’s not forget about the legal stuff. Raw files are like the uncut footage of a movie. They might not accurately represent the photographer’s intended final product. By giving out raw files, photographers risk their work being altered, misused, or shared without their permission. It’s like someone taking a director’s cut and releasing it without their say-so.


I hope this helps give you a little tidbit of education that maybe you didn’t know and clears up any confusion in why professional photographers won’t give out raw photos. It’s not meant to be stingy, it’s because we value what we do and want to give our clients the full experience that we know they will love, including our editing style.

Here is a video of me explaining with actual photos on Instagram.

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