Wedding Photographer and Raw

Started 4 months ago | Questions
MOD Biggs23 Veteran Member • Posts: 5,440
Re: Wedding Photographer and Raw
2

tbcass wrote:

Biggs23 wrote:

Could be. On the flip side, every time I raise my prices, I make more net income. It's almost like luxury services attract affluent clients who value things other than money.

In all honesty what value are the RAW photos to you? At the prices you wedding photographers charge giving the RAW photos to the client is the least you should do.

The are priced high because they represent unfinished work that could easily become accessible to the public. Would even Ford release a lowly Mustang from the line before they'd put the paint on?

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MOD Biggs23 Veteran Member • Posts: 5,440
Re: Because
3

tbcass wrote:

Shadowsurfer wrote:

tbcass wrote:

Aaron801 wrote:

... I wound't think that this is standard practice. I might shoot such a thing RAW and do editing (that's the way that I like to work) but I consider my edited versions of the photos to be the "product" that I've been hired to produce. I would probably have a contract that stipulate this and not even mention anything about RAW, but if a client really wants that stuff then I would renegotiate and change extra for that...

Why charge extra? It's no extra work or effort. Once the wedding is over what value are the RAW files to the photographer? If they want to keep them just make copies to give to the client. It just seems like a scam to me.

The Raw files can be a source of further income. Relatives and friends might contact the photographer for copies of the prints the clients bought.

In that case have them sign an agreement that they will not copy, distribute or profit off those RAW files in any way. The JPEGs are often given to the client with which the client could make prints.

And enforce it... how? Suing your client in small claims? Yeah, that's a very good way to be formerly a photographer if word gets around.

Also never let anybody you do not trust, work on your Raw files. It could be a major cause of lost reputation, if substandard PP copies of your Raw files start to circulate.

See my previous sentences which address those issues. One of the most important things in any business is good customer relations. If the client feels the photographer is being unfair or ripping them off they will make sure they tell everybody they know not to hire them.

And yet, that's not what happens with the higher end of the market. The higher end wants an experience; they don't want to get their hands dirty with 'raw' files.

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BertIverson Veteran Member • Posts: 4,219
Aaron -- Re: I'm not a wedding photographer but...
1

Aaron801 wrote:

... I wound't think that this is standard practice. I might shoot such a thing RAW and do editing (that's the way that I like to work) but I consider my edited versions of the photos to be the "product" that I've been hired to produce. I would probably have a contract that stipulate this and not even mention anything about RAW, but if a client really wants that stuff then I would renegotiate and change extra for that...

If I were getting married in this age, I would not expect the photographer's RAW images but I would want digital JPG copies with at least UHD quality (or 2160 px height for portrait framing) since I am not interested in paper prints and view my photos on UHD screens (ie 8MP). I would agree to a modest increase in price for these JPG vs paper prints (but not very much more)

PS: my wedding photos, taken in 1961 are B&W and 8x10, are in a bound album somewhere in a closet. I scanned them in the late 1990's at 200 PPI and only look at them on a UHD TV / Monitor.

my 0.02

Times do change and we are definitely in the age of digital photography.

Bert

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Shadowsurfer
Shadowsurfer Contributing Member • Posts: 788
Clarity
2

tbcass wrote:

Shadowsurfer wrote:

tbcass wrote:

Aaron801 wrote:

... I wound't think that this is standard practice. I might shoot such a thing RAW and do editing (that's the way that I like to work) but I consider my edited versions of the photos to be the "product" that I've been hired to produce. I would probably have a contract that stipulate this and not even mention anything about RAW, but if a client really wants that stuff then I would renegotiate and change extra for that...

Why charge extra? It's no extra work or effort. Once the wedding is over what value are the RAW files to the photographer? If they want to keep them just make copies to give to the client. It just seems like a scam to me.

The Raw files can be a source of further income. Relatives and friends might contact the photographer for copies of the prints the clients bought.

In that case have them sign an agreement that they will not copy, distribute or profit off those RAW files in any way. The JPEGs are often given to the client with which the client could make prints.

Reprints can be a good source of income.

Reprints can be made off the JPEGs which are usually given to the client. We are talking about RAWs. Heck, decent copies can be made off good 8x10 prints.

Also never let anybody you do not trust, work on your Raw files. It could be a major cause of lost reputation, if substandard PP copies of your Raw files start to circulate.

See my previous sentences which address those issues. One of the most important things in any business is good customer relations. If the client feels the photographer is being unfair or ripping them off they will make sure they tell everybody they know not to hire them.

I have my own business in another sector, but good business relations are built on trust and clarity in every sector including photography.

When I give a client a quote, I am clear about what he is going to get for his money and more importantly, what is not included.

My standard quotation letter has a list of exclusions. It avoids a lot of argument and bad will.

If it is clear in the contract that Raw files are not included, then nobody can whinge about getting "ripped off".

A photographer who gives away copies of his Raw files is a fool.

A Raw file is an intermediate step between pressing  the shutter and the post processing that delivers the final print of JPEG.

It is very foolish to give away a set of files, where the customer can clearly see all the little errors and missteps that occurred during the shoot.

When I shot performing arts, a good proportion of the frames were rejects that I did not want the wider world to see. I wanted my clients to see only the successful frames.

Shooting digital is no different. If Raw files are excluded in the contract, it is not too difficult to explain to a client why they are excluded.

Sure "illegal" copies can be scanned from prints or printed off from JPEGS, It happened to me too. But that is a whole different can of worms.

techie takes pics Senior Member • Posts: 1,475
Re: Vision
4

tbcass wrote:

Shadowsurfer wrote:

When I did professional theatrical photography I delivered a product in the form of prints, that I decided or my client decided, were what was wanted. No way would I let the negatives out of my hands to let others print. The "performance" of the printing process is sometimes more important than the data on the negative.

With Raw it is no different. The Raw files are a base from which I work. I do not want anybody alse messing with the post processing of my Raw files, outputting images that are not consonant with my taste and vision.

I believe most wedding photographers consign a finished album of pictures, and/or a set of PP images on CD. This is the service you are paying for, not the idle act of tripping the shutter.

One of a kind negatives are different from RAW files of which exact copies can be made. You are looking at it from the point of view of the photographer who is driven by profit. I look at it from the point of view of the client/buyer who is trying to get the most for their money. It's always a tug of war but the old adage is "The customer is always right".

Give the customer what he needs, not what he wants.

I know everyone is an expert after viewing a few Youtube videos. But you don't tell a baker how to make you a cake - you hire him for his expertise.
Same with the carpenter, cook, phone repair, plumbing, car mechanic, wedding planner.

It's perfectly fine if you can do these things yourself.

But when you hire the expertise, tell the professional what you want, not how to do it.

And 'I want raws' is not what you really want.  You don't want tons of large files sitting idle on your harddrive.  You want great photo's.  Hire an expert and pay him/her to deliver those.
Don't demand the half-finished product. It helps no-one.

Good customer relations are very important in business.

Agreed. Do this by expectation management, not by serving every demand.

The photographer could have the client sign an agreement that they are not allowed to copy, distribute or profit in any way off those RAW files.

Won't work, 2 reasons.

1. There is only one single use for photo's: to show them.
There is no point in giving a book with an agreement it won't be read. Things are used according to their nature.

Long story short: You will find them online. Raw, skewed, bland, unedited or edited in a different style. And there's a good chance your name will be there for 'credit'.

2. How on Earth are you going to enforce it? You're a photographer, not a detective. Edited pictures will look different. How much time do you want to spend to find them and prove that these were made with your originals?

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drynn Contributing Member • Posts: 941
Re: Wedding Photographer and Raw
3

When my daughter got married (Italy, mid-May, ceremony outside) she had initially asked me to do the photography. I said no (how could I have walked her down the aisle AND taken pictures of it?), and advised her instead to hire a professional wedding photographer - I considered the cost worthwhile. She did so, and in the event the selected business provided three photographers covering 09:00 - midnight: her preparations, the groom's preparations, the gathering beforehand, the ceremony, the traditional-after wedding groups, the banquet and the disco.

She had asked the firm for the RAW files as part of the deal (no prints required) as I had agreed to make an album for her, and they agreed without any fuss. The only stipulation from them was that they would supply 2500 files of what they considered to be the 'best-of-the-best', reserving the right to cull anything they thought was below par. The files they provided were fantastic, every one of them (they used Nikon equipment, so NEF files). From those files, I then selected what I thought was the best 500 and turned them into a wedding book, to which I added text details e.g. the guest list, the menus, the musicians etc.

The photographers got a fee they were happy with; she got the RAW files that she was happy with (interestingly, in addition to the 2500 files agreed, they also added about 20 tiff files that they had processed - some arty black and whites, some soft focus, and some portraits. I suspect these were like their 'signature' pictures); I had good quality files to work with; and she was very happy with the book I presented.

Another interesting point is that although she had set up a web-page for the wedding where friends could contribute/swap pictures they had taken, only a couple of friends asked for copies of the photographers group pictures (agreed with the firm beforehand). It seemed as though most attendees were happy with their (mainly) phone pictures, of which there were several hundreds uploaded.

I know that she has never even looked through the 2500 RAWs herself but has regularly reviewed the album with friends, and still has the web-page live. Apart from the book I produced, I also created some stand-alone pictures, including some fancy effect ones e.g. painterly, starbursts, composites etc.

Happy all round 

Finally, and in keeping with the topic, if a client asks for the RAW files so that they can process and distribute as they wish, and the photographer says 'no', then that client will simply go elsewhere; no need to argue about it.

Michael Firstlight Veteran Member • Posts: 4,326
Re: Wedding Photographer and Raw
1

Wow, 2500 frames for a wedding. I hear that's not unusual these days. When I started we were shooting film and 200 frames were considered average - no wonder why so many prefer silent mirrorless cameras today for weddings - just the sound of 2500 shutter clicks in 3 hrs must sound like the paparazzi!

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Michael Firstlight Veteran Member • Posts: 4,326
Re: Vision
4

Long story short: You will find them online. Raw, skewed, bland, unedited or edited in a different style. And there's a good chance your name will be there for 'credit'.

This is the #1 reason historically why photographers haven't let customers have the negatives (RAW files today) - they didn't want to risk their reputation being ruined with shoddy post-processing/printing.  I never agreed that the risk was as big as some feared as long as the contract stipulated that the client was barred from any public attribution, but the risk remained nevertheless - especially by word of mouth which was the bigger risk.

To me, anyhow, this is really the only risk.  Requests for reprints were so few that the argument about making any substantial profit on them was a wives tale  - it was more of a pain than it was worth most of the time.

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Michael Firstlight Veteran Member • Posts: 4,326
Re: I'm not a wedding photographer but...

By giving away this unfinished product a photographer gets hurt twice:

1. He will find poorly edited or unedited photos online under his name. Those could shine! But they don't. And his name is there as 'photographer'.

2. He has a certain style, much of which is applied in post-editing. You hired him for that style. Those unfinished raws don't have that.

Your point #1 is valid but the risk can be minimized by contract. Your point #2 is off-base - the only one hurt is the photographer's ego.  I got all of the RAW files from my wedding shoot and applied MY style-  far more to my liking as the client.  I built my own printed book of my wedding after post-processing my way in my style - hundreds of frames. Fact is, there are a lot of clients with better post-processing skills than the hired photographer - a result of the democratizing of the craft.

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MOD Biggs23 Veteran Member • Posts: 5,440
Re: Vision
1

Michael Firstlight wrote:

Long story short: You will find them online. Raw, skewed, bland, unedited or edited in a different style. And there's a good chance your name will be there for 'credit'.

To me, anyhow, this is really the only risk. Requests for reprints were so few that the argument about making any substantial profit on them was a wives tale - it was more of a pain than it was worth most of the time.

You clearly don't/didn't do IPS, or did not do it well. I make nearly as much on reprints as I do on the actual wedding services.

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MOD Biggs23 Veteran Member • Posts: 5,440
Re: I'm not a wedding photographer but...
1

Michael Firstlight wrote:

By giving away this unfinished product a photographer gets hurt twice:

1. He will find poorly edited or unedited photos online under his name. Those could shine! But they don't. And his name is there as 'photographer'.

2. He has a certain style, much of which is applied in post-editing. You hired him for that style. Those unfinished raws don't have that.

Your point #1 is valid but the risk can be minimized by contract.

It can't, because the contract will not be adhered to, and there's no way to sue your clients without word getting out that you are 'that guy' who sues your clients.

Your point #2 is off-base - the only one hurt is the photographer's ego. I got all of the RAW files from my wedding shoot and applied MY style- far more to my liking as the client. I built my own printed book of my wedding after post-processing my way in my style - hundreds of frames. Fact is, there are a lot of clients with better post-processing skills than the hired photographer - a result of the democratizing of the craft.

I'm surprised you didn't ask the baker for the ingredients! After all, you have an oven!

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Michael Firstlight Veteran Member • Posts: 4,326
Re: I'm not a wedding photographer but...
2

Biggs23 wrote:

Michael Firstlight wrote:

By giving away this unfinished product a photographer gets hurt twice:

1. He will find poorly edited or unedited photos online under his name. Those could shine! But they don't. And his name is there as 'photographer'.

2. He has a certain style, much of which is applied in post-editing. You hired him for that style. Those unfinished raws don't have that.

Your point #1 is valid but the risk can be minimized by contract.

It can't, because the contract will not be adhered to, and there's no way to sue your clients without word getting out that you are 'that guy' who sues your clients.

Your point #2 is off-base - the only one hurt is the photographer's ego. I got all of the RAW files from my wedding shoot and applied MY style- far more to my liking as the client. I built my own printed book of my wedding after post-processing my way in my style - hundreds of frames. Fact is, there are a lot of clients with better post-processing skills than the hired photographer - a result of the democratizing of the craft.

I'm surprised you didn't ask the baker for the ingredients! After all, you have an oven!

Me thinks you need to get over yourself - you are living in the past (a bit ironic for me to say as I'm in my 60's with 50 years of experience). Every consumer DSLR can produce RAW files and anyone that can edit a JPEG can edit a RAW file using a slew of free and paid software. Editing RAW is not significantly more difficult than editing JPEGs - they can take edited JPEGs, further edit those and make them even worse - you can't lock down the files. Today's photographers are much better off selling the value of their post-processing skills and other benefits of having their images professionally processed.

If you don't want to change then there will be a dozen other competitors right behind you that will take your place and eat your lunch. The world is changing - change with it or perish.

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MOD Biggs23 Veteran Member • Posts: 5,440
Re: I'm not a wedding photographer but...
1

Michael Firstlight wrote:

Biggs23 wrote:

Michael Firstlight wrote:

By giving away this unfinished product a photographer gets hurt twice:

1. He will find poorly edited or unedited photos online under his name. Those could shine! But they don't. And his name is there as 'photographer'.

2. He has a certain style, much of which is applied in post-editing. You hired him for that style. Those unfinished raws don't have that.

Your point #1 is valid but the risk can be minimized by contract.

It can't, because the contract will not be adhered to, and there's no way to sue your clients without word getting out that you are 'that guy' who sues your clients.

Your point #2 is off-base - the only one hurt is the photographer's ego. I got all of the RAW files from my wedding shoot and applied MY style- far more to my liking as the client. I built my own printed book of my wedding after post-processing my way in my style - hundreds of frames. Fact is, there are a lot of clients with better post-processing skills than the hired photographer - a result of the democratizing of the craft.

I'm surprised you didn't ask the baker for the ingredients! After all, you have an oven!

Me thinks you need to get over yourself - you are living in the past (a bit ironic for me to say as I'm in my 60's with 50 years of experience). Every consumer DSLR can produce RAW files and anyone that can edit a JPEG can edit a RAW file using a slew of free and paid software. Editing RAW is not significantly more difficult than editing JPEGs - they can take edited JPEGs, further edit those and make them even worse - you can't lock down the files. Today's photographers are much better off selling the value of their post-processing skills and other benefits of having their images professionally processed.

If you don't want to change then there will be a dozen other competitors right behind you that will take your place and eat your lunch. The world is changing - change with it or perish.

Methinks you are the one who is accusing me of that which you yourself are guilty. I don't think you know nearly as much about the profession as you believe you do and probably need to 'get over yourself.'

Is there intense competition at the bottom where RAW files may well be a make or break? Absolutely. Does that same environment exist at the higher end? Not at all. When I was charging significantly less, I was asked about RAW files on occasion. Now that I'm on the other end of the market, I haven't been asked in years.

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(unknown member) Forum Pro • Posts: 12,611
Do wedding photographers actually still shoot raw?
3

I say this because the client base needs have changed so much since I first started some 34 years ago with film …

even the two photographers actually doing my wedding don’t waste time with raw and simply shoot jpeg just the same I was doing for the last few years..

The main reason is .. the clients need.

The main reason we can safety shoot jpegs with confidence is that cameras have become that good . Dynamic range ( even from jpeg) , high iso more reliable wb colour options etc .

The clients now want a flash drive with a nice selection of images set up as a slide show for their smart TVs . A flash drive with all images on in a ready view format. A downloadable album for their phones and tablets as more and more are ditching pc and laptops .
A few want some prints frame but most clients now love the photo book for the coffee table.

tbcass
tbcass Forum Pro • Posts: 51,755
Re: Wedding Photographer and Raw
1

Aaron801 wrote:

tbcass wrote:

I want to add one more thing. Wedding photographers where I live get $2000-$4000 and, while their work is technically good, it's the same old stock poses I've been seeing for over 50 years. For that much money, I would expect something more, something original and artistic. What they do takes little in real talent. If they are going to give the same unoriginal work then the least they should do is give up the RAW files to the customer.

I don't know what average prices are, and I'm sure that this varies greatly according to the area, but I have seen wedding photography work that's a lot more thoughtful than what you're talking about. I've seen plenty of work that to my eyes is incredibly good, that few people are capable of, though however great the work it still might not be worth the sort of investment that this kind of work tends to cost. The best wedding photography that I've seen goes beyond well lit, perfectly color balanced shots that have sufficiently blurry non-distracting backgrounds to work that is able to make folks look really glamorous and isn't simply a collection of posed looking photos, but is has a documentary element that shows the event from many different perspectives... shows all different kinds of aspects.

Those talented ones are famous, charge huge fees, and are used by wealthy celebrities. I'm talking about the hundreds to thousands of wedding photographers used by us common folk.

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Tom

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tbcass
tbcass Forum Pro • Posts: 51,755
Re: Because
1

Biggs23 wrote:

tbcass wrote:

See my previous sentences which address those issues. One of the most important things in any business is good customer relations. If the client feels the photographer is being unfair or ripping them off they will make sure they tell everybody they know not to hire them.

And yet, that's not what happens with the higher end of the market. The higher end wants an experience; they don't want to get their hands dirty with 'raw' files.

It should be obvious I am not talking about the higher-end market. I'm talking about us slobs who have to go into debt to pay for overpriced weddings.

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Tom

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tbcass
tbcass Forum Pro • Posts: 51,755
Re: Clarity
1

In a previous post, I said I would make the RAW files part of the agreement when the contract was signed or not use that photographer.

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Tom

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Siobhan_K Regular Member • Posts: 298
No RAW = Normal and Preferable
4

rainydiary wrote:

Hi all

Is it normal wedding photographer haven't give Raw files to their clients ?

Thank

It's both normal and preferable for all legit clients. For the most part, only certified bridezillas and/or groomzillas ask for RAW files.

Reasonable people hire wedding photographers to deliver a finished and final product, not gigabytes of mid-process data requiring specialized software and time-consuming interpretive work to even see.

Which means: clients who ask for RAW files are a bright-red-flashing-warning "do not serve" sign for anyone who's a serious, legit wedding pro. 99.999% of those who'd ask for RAW files have no idea what they would actually do with them on receipt. Worse, those few who do think they understand RAW files are essentially telling the photographer, via their request, that they don't trust or like the photographer's color and finishing work.

Why hire a photographer whose work you don't trust or even like?

This question really takes us to the heart of the matter. A client who requests RAW files is very likely a person who'll be impossible to please and thoroughly horrid to work for. It's the sort of client who hires "any photographer" believing that they're all interchangeable and fungible, not the sort of client who hired you because they respect good photography as a form of original art and they like your art, particularly. A client who asks for RAW files is also the sort who'll be keen to toss up nonsense hoops for his / her wedding vendors to jump through just for the sake it--the "I 'own' these 'servants' for a day" sort of jerkwad. One can be certain that requesting RAW files will not be the only "nonsense hoop" that this sort of person will require his or her wedding vendors to jump through over the course of the event.

Great wedding photography is consuming and emotionally-charged work even for dream clients, even under the very best imaginable circumstances. As a wedding photographer, you have to devote yourself, profoundly, to your client's day and moment. And let me tell you--speaking from experience--there are very few fates in this world worse than finding your creative heart contractually devoted to a demeaning a-s-s-h-o-l-e.

A prospective client requests RAW files? Danger, Will Robinson. Steer clear. Let them waste someone else's time.

Have a good one!

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Aaron801 Veteran Member • Posts: 7,201
Re: Wedding Photographer and Raw

tbcass wrote:

Aaron801 wrote:

tbcass wrote:

I want to add one more thing. Wedding photographers where I live get $2000-$4000 and, while their work is technically good, it's the same old stock poses I've been seeing for over 50 years. For that much money, I would expect something more, something original and artistic. What they do takes little in real talent. If they are going to give the same unoriginal work then the least they should do is give up the RAW files to the customer.

I don't know what average prices are, and I'm sure that this varies greatly according to the area, but I have seen wedding photography work that's a lot more thoughtful than what you're talking about. I've seen plenty of work that to my eyes is incredibly good, that few people are capable of, though however great the work it still might not be worth the sort of investment that this kind of work tends to cost. The best wedding photography that I've seen goes beyond well lit, perfectly color balanced shots that have sufficiently blurry non-distracting backgrounds to work that is able to make folks look really glamorous and isn't simply a collection of posed looking photos, but is has a documentary element that shows the event from many different perspectives... shows all different kinds of aspects.

Those talented ones are famous, charge huge fees, and are used by wealthy celebrities. I'm talking about the hundreds to thousands of wedding photographers used by us common folk.

I'm talking about that too.... There are plenty of of great photographers who aren't famous. My friend's wedding was shot by a guy who made a really fantastic set of images. I don't really know the guy but I suspect that he makes a very good living in photography. He doesn't need to be on the famous level to do that and I would guess that he's happy with where he is. It's hard enough to make a living in something like photography...

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Michael Piziak
Michael Piziak Contributing Member • Posts: 794
Re: I'm not a wedding photographer but...

Gee, I'm glad photography is just my hobby....

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