Why Don’t Photographers Give Out RAW Photos?

If you ask a photographer if they can give you the entire set of unedited RAW photos from a shoot, there’s a very good chance they’re going to say no. No, it’s not because they don’t want you to have all your memories — it’s because they only want to deliver their very best finished work.

This is a question that’s been weighing on photographer Jessica Kobeissi‘s mind, so she decided to make the 5.5-minute video above to share her explanation.

Clients often feel that not receiving all the photos taken by the photographer is a waste and that the photographer wouldn’t lose anything by simply handing over all the RAW shots. Here are Kobeissi arguments against that:

1. RAW files are not the final product

“It’s like asking an artist for their unfinished painting.”

2. Prospective clients may get the wrong impression

“Hey, is this really their work?”

3. Special tools and processing are needed for RAW files

“You really don’t want to try to work around Photoshop. You’ll start crying.”

4. It allows editing and manipulation without our consent

“It’s like giving someone a rough draft of your script and then having them edit and add things in there and then release a final version.”

5. Sometimes editing IS necessary

“Sometimes we don’t want people to see how it looks before processing.”

6. Many clients are unhappy with unedited photos

People aren’t happy to see unfiltered work, outtakes and all.

7. Quality over quantity

“Would you rather have 150 beautiful retouched photos, or would you rather have 2,000 unedited, dimly lit, average-looking photos?”

8. We aren’t out to get you! Talk to us about it

“It’s not like we’re on Facebook like ‘hey, I’m not giving you the RAW files because we don’t want you to be happy.'”

9. We don’t want judgement from unfinished work

“We want to make sure that whatever people see in public is an accurate representation of both ourselves and our skills.”

10. Loss of potential clients

“We could lose clients who see those images and think, ‘hey I don’t want my images to look like that.'”

You can find more of Kobeissi’s videos on her YouTube channel and more of her photography on her website, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

(via Jessica Kobeissi via ISO 1200)

P.S. Photographer Daniela Bowker weighed in on this same issue here back in 2014. Give that article a read if you haven’t already.