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What do you do when asked: Will you shoot our wedding but supply the 'Originals'?

TrevTrev Moderator
edited August 2013 in wedding photography
So, here I am at a Wedding Expo/Showcase with my photography work and am surrounded by prospective brides asking the usual questions when this young lady asks:

"Will you shoot our wedding and supply all the original files?"

I asked her precisely what she meant by original files, as in will I supply all the images shot and edited for her or do you mean the files straight out of the camera, because I shoot in RAW which is completely different.

"Oh, the RAW files, my boyfriend is into photography and wants to edit our images himself"

Really!! How long has he been doing that?

"He just got Photoshop and said something that all you need to do is put in . . . what do you call it, something about 'Curves', is that it?"

Well, what can I say to that? Ask her how long has he been using it. "1 month." OK!!
(1 month versus 17+ years AND I am still learning something new almost daily).

Luckily, I had 3 sample images, one as a jpeg shooter would shoot, compressed shadows and no good details in the highlights, one directly from a RAW, flat and no life, then my edited version.

So I hear a few gasps go up from the 4-5 other girls there, amazed at the differences.

[btw, after the girl left I got 2 bookings on that alone, I normally do not show that, since the final work alone should stand up, but had them in my bag as I was going to friend's place later on to show him the differences since he's so stuck on jpeg shooting]

I explained the differences, and it's not 'just about curves' it's a myriad of things, and I would charge her $2000 just to shoot anyway, but, I would not want to supply the RAWs simply because I had no control over the final end product.

Had to outline the scenario of the boyfriend editing some files, printing them thinking he did a marvellous job, but showing people his version and if they point out something wrong, would quickly say, oh, "my photographer did not shoot the file properly" response.

So, she left disappointed, but for me personally, no, could not do that. Gave up a possible quick and easy shoot [like the good old film days -not-] and then have further down the track possibly lose more than 1 client because of shoddy editing as done by the boyfriend.

Anyone else have the same experience, this was a first for me.


  • It hasn't happened to me because I haven't shot a wedding... yet... - but I can see that creeping in more and more if there is a perception it will save a buck and you're on a budget.

    I'm still trying to get past the supply of the final images for free!
  • I did a large birthday party last year and the person who hired me asked if she could have copies of all the photos I had taken. I did inform her that with the release forms signed I had sole rights to the photographs and that if anyone needed copies, they would have to go through me. Granted I put it much more tactfully. I explained that if I did that for everyone I'd be losing a lot of money. After a brief time she finally understood, but i can see how some people would never quite get the concept of how much time is spent on editing photographs to get the best possible results for every client. Not quite the same Trev, but along the same lines.
  • I'm with Trev on that one. No way will they get RAW files. I have let jobs go in the past rather than supply a client finished product which does not come up to the standards of presentation i have set for my business.
    I will not lower my standards just to get a cut price client because that is all you will ever get.
  • RubyRuby Member
    Yes Trev, I have been asked the same question. I didn't give them the raw files but I did up some Tiff"s for them.
  • I offer a CD of edited high res jpegs but for a price of course. Right now it's $1,500 for chosen photos (not the outtakes that I delete) from a family portrait session or senior session. I don't do weddings. I only get takers on this occasionally. I use to get more takers but my price was much much lower and that was crazy given the print sales I was losing and the time it takes to edit them.

    I also offer 12 edited high-res images for $500.

    Never would I give out the RAW files.
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    I now have an update to that story.

    Yesterday, I received an email from the girl (she said in email if I 'remembered the girl asking for the RAWs) now requesting I shoot the wedding for them, but to give them just the edited jpegs files, happy for me to edit and forgo the RAWs request.

    I think she must have had a hard long think about it and come to the realisation that the 'boyfriend' editing would not be in the best interests for her wedding photos.

    So, I now have the job without compromise and they will get top notch editing on their photos.

    Both her and I now happy campers.
  • Excellent. Way to go Trev.
  • You can call it a "Digital Archive" and sell it to them.

  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    Because of my Tangents blog and my books, I often get to photograph weddings of other photographers and people with a keen interest in photography. So for them, I do include the RAW files of the selected images.
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    Thanks Skipperlange.

    Lou, I had thought of that but initially they wanted just the RAWs, all of them, shoot, burn RAWs and forget.

    Therefore totally no control whatsoever, if she had wanted me to do the wedding normally, then 'buy the Digital Archive' for posterity I would have considered that down the track. I know of a top photographer who shoots, edits, prints/albums, and will sell the RAWs for $1000 but with a timeframe of 12 months after the wedding, negating any instant rubbish editing.

    Neil: I certainly can see that point for sure, as the people you know are either already pretty adept at editing or know how the process works, therefore the selected RAWs would be good practice, and they have them for safe keeping.

    But, it's all a moot point (for me) now that she decided to go the 'normal' route.

    Still, been an exercise for future cases if they come up. Maybe I would handle it slightly differently and offer them the RAWs for a price down the track after I have edited my version of course.
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