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Insights & Thoughts

Should You Give Clients Raw Files? 5 Things to Consider Before You Do

By Wendell Weithers on January 22nd 2018

We all know that question. Do you give clients Raw files? Some photogs say, “Sure! Whatever makes the client happy.” Others, (myself included), dig deep for some profound metaphor to illustrate how absurd the request is. Do you pay a chef to give you raw meat? Do you buy music before it’s mixed? Nah…

Still, it’s a request that you’ll encounter and you’ll need to know what your answer is, and more importantly, why. Photographer Jamie Windsor has some experience with this very topic and he gives you five things to consider as you decide what you offer your clients.

Reason #1 – People Don’t Know what RAW files are

You’re the professional and they’re the client. As you’d expect, you’re equipped with the tools to make the most of those files. True, some clients may know how to handle RAW files, but the average client probably does not.

Reason #2 – Size

The impact of the megapixel race trickles down to your customers as the market is full of cameras that possess 24MP or higher. The size of these images is a consideration that your client may not have accounted for adequately. You don’t want to burden them unnecessarily.

Reason #3 – The Don’t Look Finished

We know the mayhem that can be found on an SD card after a wedding or event. Missed shots, misfires, creative experiments, and maybe even a bit of “spray and pray” can be found in your bite-size storage. A client may be put off by a poorly captured image without fully understanding what it takes to make magic out of mayhem.

  1. Your vision of the final images
  2. What your camera is capable of
  3. What your editing software is capable of
  4. They aren’t supposed to see the bad shots

Reason #4 – It Can Damage Your Reputation

When you put the curating of your work in the trust of an untrained eye you are putting your reputation at risk. Images that would otherwise not be posted, find their way into the world without the benefit of your better judgment. Needless to say, this is not ideal.

Reason #5 – People are selfish and they lie

Even when you sign a contract with specific provisions, your client may break it and share images you don’t want the world to see. Furthermore, you may not have the means to enforce your agreement. This is unfortunate but true.

Fuji Raw Files VS. Fuji JPEGs | How Different & How Good Are The JPEGs?

Your Raw Files Don’t Define You As A Photographer, But Neither Does Your Post Processing


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Wendell is based in Atlanta where he shoots events, portraits, and food photography. He also supports his wife Andrea as she runs their cake design business, Sweet Details.

Instagram: Wendellwphoto

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Ron Protography

    No, only if under contractual obligations in commercial shoots, . to do so for others it would only be under a licensing agreement .

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  2. Jamie Windsor

    That appears to be my video…

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  3. Kartick Boddedaa

    Hi Kartick here from am strictly against giving raw files to clients unless and until the client is a photographer himself/herself.
    Nowadays I get a lot of request from people asking raw photos.I have to explain to them that RAW photos won’t be useful for them. 
    People just follow the trends.

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  4. Motti Bembaron

    well said!

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