Weddings and RAW Files for Clients

Started Mar 7, 2012 | Discussions thread
OP elavoie Forum Member • Posts: 74
Re: RAW files as a wedding deliverable

Thank you for the thoughtful response. I enjoyed the images and advice on your website as well.

Now let's explore why you want the RAW files: do you want them because you'd rather process them yourself? If so, hire someone to show up, hand them a stack of memory cards, and have them give them back to you at the end of the day. Don't pay them to do any PP for you. I'd caution you, though, that most folks that take photos like this will not be as invested in taking quality photos as would be the case if they were responsible for the entire workflow, from composition, to capture, to processing, to printing, to distribution, etc. You're more bound to get a shoot-and-run photographer than one that really cares about end-to-end quality. That wouldn't be the case if I shot your wedding under such an arrangement, and it probably wouldn't be for some folks here, but the psychology is such that you will not find many folks who deliver quality unless they're accountable for the full service and product.

This seems to make sense. I just want the RAW files in case my fiance has a special request for any of them or a future technology enables me to do something interesting with them. I generally don't have the time or interest to process someone else's files especially in the quantity that would result from a wedding. I don't want them to circumvent the wedding photographer's process.

If on the other hand you want someone who will take care to post-process photos to a high quality output, why do you need the RAW files? If it's to print them at a future date, JPGs will do just fine for that. Ask for 16-bit post-processed TIFs if you think you'll need more quality options. If on the other hand you do plan to do your PP after the photographer does theirs, why? Why pay someone to do what you will end up doing anyway? Seems wasteful, both of your budget and their time.

Having said that, philosophies and business practices vary wildly among wedding photographers. Some are indeed willing to just hand everything over at the end of the day, and they're good, solid shooters. I will re-iterate, though, that by enlarge most folks you find willing to hand over RAW without reservations aren't as dedicated to producing the best results as you might want them to be.

Should I be concerned if the wedding photographer I want to use only shoots at about half the resolution of his 5D II? (I think he shoots in a 10 MP sRAW mode.)

Incidentally, while you probably know more about wedding photography than the usual prospective wedding client, here's a series I'm running (with more to come) on my site on things one should consider when hiring a wedding photographer. Check it out if you have time:

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