TVRPhotography – If it moves, Shoot It!
No, you may not have my RAW files, and here’s why…
It doesn’t happen too often, but every now and then I’ll get a request for my RAW files. Usually it goes something like this:
“I understand these 20 are your best shots, but I want to see everything!”
“How about I edit them and save you the time?”
“I don’t understand this editing fee. Aren’t you going to send me all the files anyway?”
All perfectly reasonable requests for those who are unfamiliar with the editing process. But once the process is explained, it tends to make a little more sense why giving clients RAW files is a bad idea.
My simple explanation is that the client hired me for a reason; to supply them with the best images possible. A RAW file is not a finished product, not even close!
The most successful analogy I have been able to come up with is to that of a master painter. One wouldn’t expect Michelangelo or Leonardo daVinci to hand over an outline of a painting thinking the recipient is going to finish it. (Not that I am in any way comparing myself to these amazing artists and thinkers!) But could you imagine an unfinished Mona Lisa? A half-carved statue of David? Inaccurate coloring of The Creation of Adam in the Sistine Chapel?
A photographer’s imagery and vision shouldn’t be treated any differently. Often times I will sit down with a client and share all of my files with the warning that these are incomplete and not representative of the finished product. They’ll pick out a few and I’ll begin the editing process, but I never turn over the RAW files.
Remember, your portfolio is only as good as your worst image. The same goes for your reputation. Should you cave in and hand over RAW files thinking they will never be seen by anyone else, those files may very well end up in the public eye without your finessing. And of course the one time you get proper credit for the image, it will be this image you get credit for.