A widely debated topic in photographer circles, today we weigh in with our own thoughts concerning the controversial matter:
Should You Or Shouldn’t You Give Clients Access To Your Raw Images?
Our Answer? Probably Not.
Below are 3 good reasons why:
#1 – Unedited images are Unfinished products
In general, the delivery of unrefined goods in any field, is considered unprofessional; and photography is no exception. Just like you wouldn’t demand to hear a musician’s first audio mix, a photographer’s RAW files are privy to the content originator alone until he/she deems it ready for viewing by others. The only exception to this, is if you have pre-agreed to the provision of RAWs in a unique contract with your clients. But in all other circumstances, you should never feel any pressure to show them anything that is less than fully edited. Clear and concise pre-wedding communication is key in helping your clients understand and appreciate that editing is a big part of what will ultimately make their wedding collection as beautiful as it can be.
#2 – Trade Secrets are not for the public eye
It’s an accepted courtesy, that we don’t go barging into the kitchen of a renowned chef and demand to taste all the raw ingredients before they have been masterfully combined into the delectable menu item we ordered. Because quite simply, we don’t have the right – neither to garner the specific condiments that are used, nor to view the precise manner in which they are prepared. To breach our boundaries as a customer, could, if we dare to admit it, be theft of intellectual property. What if the chef has a secret recipe lying on the bench that had been passed down from generations? In a similar way, a photographer’s workstation is sacred. Why should it matter, what camera setting is used, what presets are applied, and what clever implements are employed? At the end of the day, we as photographers are hired to capture our clients’ most special of days in our own stylistic way. So nudge them to choose wisely, and should they decide to commit, invite them to entrust the best possible conveyance of their wedding memories to you and your capable skill.
#3 – Misrepresentation of your work
In an age where online presence is becoming more important by the day, it is imperative that you seek to maintain the highest standard you can for your brand through actively regulating the quality of work that is released to the world wide web. But how can you do this, if you are giving away RAW image files left, right, and center, to clients who may or may not know how to properly bring out their potential? Of course, there is no guarantee that clients won’t try to re-edit your already polished images after delivery, but at the very least, you’ll know that what was provided, was what you intended – and hopefully your clients will be as rightfully satisfied with them as you are.