What is a RAW File and will we receive access to our RAW files? | Wedding Planning

Happy wedding planning, friend! Today, I wanted to touch on a quick question that I get every now and then… it’s something that makes photographers cringe a little, but honestly, there is NO shame in asking your photographer this question! I actually don’t mind when I get this question because it gives me a chance to educate potential clients! After all, how should someone that is not a photographer be expected to know what exactly this technical term means?! Now… before I get too far ahead of myself, what exactly are we talking about here?

Whether you’ve heard the term, or not, we’re going to dive into RAW FILES today, specifically… what they are and why you definitely don’t want them over your final, edited photos. (From a photographer that has processed hundreds of thousands of RAW files, trust me here) So, go ahead, grab a little something to sip on, and keep scrolling! I’m going to keep today brief!

So… what is a RAW file?

A RAW file is an image as seen by the camera’s sensor! In short, it is a HUGE image-like file that contains tons of uncompressed and unprocessed data. It has to be read by compatible software and has to be processed through to a file format that is compatible with everyday computers and smartphones. Aesthetics-wise, compared to your final images, RAW files are often a little dingier than what you can expect in your final gallery and take up a lot more storage space.

Do you share RAW files?

Nope! I do not share RAW files and plan to keep this as a business policy. There are SO many technical reasons why I do not share RAW files (Storage, and long upload/download times being a few!), but more than that, the reason I don’t share RAW files comes back to the client experience. You spent months planning your wedding day! The last thing you want to do is spend months processing and perfecting your wedding photos before you can even share them. I would never want you to receive an unfinished product from me which is why I edit and process images before turning them over to clients. In fact, my people hire me for that finished product!

Let’s break it down in terms of baking. I want you to picture your wedding cake… what’s it made of? Cake batter, icing, maybe some fruit or filling, maybe a little fondant and flowers if we’re getting fancy? It would be SO weird and disappointing if you showed up on your wedding day to a giant bowl of cake batter! Seriously, what would you do?! You would be left scrambling with an unfinished product and would have to take time to fix the issue.

So… if I were to share RAW files with you, it would be ALMOST the same thing… just flip the cake batter to image files. You would receive an unfinished product and would have hours of work ahead of you when it comes to sorting and processing images while running the risk that your editing may not look like the images you fell in love with in my portfolio! What a disappointment! In the final editing process, my RAW images get their finishing touch, so they look like what you would expect from reviewing my portfolio, just like your cake gets baked and frosted before heading to your reception!

What will we get instead of RAW files?

I’m so glad you asked! Instead of receiving RAW files, you’ll receive your final, edited gallery within 4 weeks of both your engagement session and wedding. Right now, I use a program called Shootproof to deliver client galleries. The galleries are as easy to use as they are beautiful! I include an unlimited digital download of your high-resolution images with all of my wedding packages, which means that you and your loved ones are more than welcome to download and save all of the images you want however many times you want during the 6 months your gallery is online. Additionally, you’ll also receive a print release for personal usage, meaning you are more than welcome to print your images through a lab of your choosing or can order prints through your gallery— the choice is yours! Most of all though, you’ll receive a finished product. You’ll receive beautiful images that tell your story and that can be sent and shared and loved right away. The only sorting you’ll be doing is selecting your favorite images! You’ll be able to put your images to use right away… share with friends, family, set it as your phone background, share to social, or even order some prints!

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