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Why Won’t My Photographer Give Me All My Images / RAW Files?

Panama City Beach Sunset Photos

I get this question a lot so I figured it was time for a blog post!  There are certainly plenty of photographers out there who will give you everything under the sun, copyrights, print releases, every image they took, etc…. but there comes a point in a photographer’s career that their outlook changes.  It becomes less about giving everything away and more about the art itself. It becomes important to keep strict control over the work that is associated with your name, your business, your brand.  In my opinion, this is when a photographer really starts to “arrive” and if you are looking for great professional images, someone who maintains a high level of quality standards is someone who is certainly worth your consideration.

When we have a session together, I will undoubtedly take hundreds of pictures and you may wonder why when you get the link to download your images, you have less. I get it! People blink, you look away, wind blows hair in your face, you move your mouth, a cloud rolls in and I have to adjust the settings on my camera, kids sneeze- just to name a few of the millions of things that happen!

My job (and what you hired me for) after our session is to go through your images, one-by-one, and choose the very best and also make a photo editor comparison for the softwares you’ve used. These are the images I want you to have to remember your session. These images are the ones I am most proud of and what I want to show the rest of the world. These are the images that I feel best represent my business, my brand, my artwork and your time with me.

The RAW file that comes out of the camera is like a rough draft. My camera will apply basic edits to a photo automatically so that when I turn my camera and show you a picture at our session, you get a rough idea of what I have in my mind for the shot. When I pull images into my editing software, the sharpening the camera applied disappears, the colors are muted, and the edges are softer. The images are, in essence, asleep, and what I do to them is wake them up. I am now bringing each image to life as I saw it in my mind when I shot it.

Releasing the RAW files (unedited images) to others is like going to a gourmet restaurant and asking the chef to just bring the ingredients to your table and you’ll do the rest. It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to prepare and present that meal the way they would. No chef would do that and they certainly wouldn’t claim your food as their creation! When I put it like that, it sounds crazy, doesn’t it?

You have chosen me because you like the work you see on my website and therefore you need to trust me! You need to trust that when you hire me (or any photographer), you’ll get the same quality that is in the rest of my portfolio.

RAW files are for my eyes only. The photos that I provide clients and include in my portfolio need to accurately represent who I am as a photographer, after all, that is why people hire me. If I allow others to edit my photos, it won’t be my work, it will be theirs. I don’t want to risk having edits made by others potentially being presented as my work to prospective clients. It is also a violation of copyright law to edit or alter any images that were taken by someone else. These violations come with hefty fines.

The final images I deliver to my clients are the result of what I saw in the moment, in my artist’s mind, and they are what you hired me to provide.

All My Best,


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