RAW Images

There are several questions that you might have when it comes to photography and what you get at the end of your session or wedding.

Here are some of the questions I will cover in today's blog post:

What are RAW images?
What is the difference between a RAW image and a JPEG image?
Can I have the RAW images from my session?

and a question that ties in nicely with these is...

Why are photographers so expensive? (This might not seem like it fits in with the other questions, but it really does!)

I will explain all...

First of all, what is a RAW image?

When an image is captured in a digital camera, it can be recorded as raw data.  This means that no processing has been applied to the image.  It is a HUGE file and contains an enormous amount of data that can then be manipulated in editing software, such as Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop. 

What is the difference between a RAW image and a JPEG image?

Digital cameras can also have their file format set to JPEG.  If you are not planning on editing your photos in any way, then this is probably what you are using already.  With a JPEG, the raw image data is processed and compressed before it is saved in the JPEG format.  This can happen within your camera, so that you never see the raw data at all.  Or, the photograph can be converted to JPEG after some editing has been applied to it.

Can I have the RAW images from my session?

The answer with the majority of professional photographers is going to be no.  There is a very good reason for this however.  

You are paying for several things when it comes to a photographer.  You are paying for the photographer to capture images that are flattering, well posed and well lit.  You are also paying for the way your photographs look when they have been edited.

The chances are that you chose your photographer for you wedding or family portrait session, based on what their previous photos look like.  Perhaps they are light and bright and vibrant like my photographs.  Perhaps they are dark and moody and atmospheric.  Whatever the style, you chose your photographer because you liked it.

So, you would likely be quite unhappy if you received photographs that didn't match your expectations.

Allow me a couple of analogies;

Receiving RAW, unedited images is like ordering a beautiful birthday cake, and instead receiving flour and eggs.

Or, like ordering a bespoke sofa and instead receiving some wood and fabric.

Asking for RAW photographs, is asking for only half of what you have paid for.  Why on Earth would you only want half of the end product???

Which leads me nicely into the final question;

Why are photographers so expensive?

Turning a RAW image, that may look dull or underexposed, into a beautiful photograph that is light, bright, vibrant and full of life takes time.  It takes effort.  It takes days and days of sitting at the computer in pyjamas, drinking gallons of tea, with a cat on your lap, making tiny adjustments to images that you've already looked at a dozen times, but that still need just a tiny tweak to make them absolutely perfect.  Sometimes, it takes a day away from the computer to clear your head, before diving back in and perfecting the exposure, skin tones, horizon line, fly-away hairs, chocolate stains on t-shirts, bags under eyes and uneven skin.

You might only see your photographer for an hour at a family photo session, or at your wedding day, but you can quadruple the number of hours they spent with you, that will go into editing the photos afterwards.

THAT is what you're paying for.

So, be patient and be kind and let your photographer work their magic.  You won't regret it when you see your fabulous images in the end.

Below are a few examples of RAW photos, followed by their edited JPEGs, as they were delivered in their final galleries.  I hope that these examples will help you to see just how much work goes into the post processing of photographs, and that you really don't want the RAW images anyway.  Why would you, when you compare them to the final product!