Every once in a while, us photographers get a client who insists on getting the “RAW images” with their session. Often enough, this clients doesn’t even know what they are asking for..

First of all, what is a RAW image? To photographers, correctly written ‘raw’, is the un-processed (and therefore raw) file they achieve by adjusting the dials and settings on their camera, changing the zoom factor, and clicking the shutter.  Not always, if ever, is it perfect. Just to open these files, special programs are required that about 98% of consumers do not own. Photographers spend hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars on special programs to open and edit these image files to their interpretation of perfect (what you hire that specific photographer for).  This should be in fact be a very large part of the decision making process for choosing a photographer. The author of In Beauty & Chaos did a great job of showcasing the drastic or subtle differences between some straight out of camera (SOOC) shots and finished products (after). Here is a classic example from a family portrait session that shows the behind the scenes and why all of our sessions seem to be all smiles and giggles, when in reality..not so much.

gatineau family photographer before and after child portraits

Another example that proves the raw file, straight out of camera is NOT what you really want.. The finished product in this case is much more of a statement portrait; a masterpiece, if you will.

In my experience, when a client asks for “raw files” they want the completed masterpiece in the form of jpeg files so they can print at home/retail stores. The problem with that, or rather the many problems with that, are important game-changing ones. Photographers spend hundreds of dollars to have their monitors calibrated to the professional print labs they use for their products to make sure your white wedding dress stays white, and those bright red heels stay red, and those baby blues stay blue. The moment you take that perfectly calibrated image and send it to a low-quality printer like at a retail store, your image loses it’s quality. The colours ALWAYS change, some more drastically than others. The paper and ink quality are almost never up to par with a professional lab. And those consumer photo-books you see advertised at retail locations are nowhere near the quality of that from a professional photographer.. Honestly, you need to go into stores like Walmart and Blacks to see and feel the difference in quality between the two. Now imagine another book, at least 10 times better; that’s what you get from a professional.

The key words to remember here are PROFESSIONAL versus CONSUMER. Today’s consumers have been almost brainwashed into thinking “okay” is good enough, and that “good enough” is a valid standard..but is it really? You’ve paid hundreds or thousands of dollars to have your portraits taken professionally, beautifully edited by a professional, and then you want to go get sub-par prints done at a retail lab? And that’s if you even decide to do something with them, most just keep their disc or flash-drive in a drawer and do thing with them..

Think of it this way.. It’s like buying the most expensive car you can find but getting all the accessories from a replica depot or warehouse making it look fake or cheap, or leaving it in the garage because you don’t want to buy the premium gas, and only every once in a while using it with cheap gas even though you know it damages your engine. And for those of you who don’t know cars.. Imagine buying a fantastic dry-clean-only dress or suit for a special occasion. You decide to wear it a few times and then you realize it needs to be washed. You either let it hang in your closet for years until it no longer fits, OR you decide that you can save money by washing it at home, but by doing that you know it will damage it and it will never be the same as when you bought it. But, spend a little more to have it dry-cleaned at a professional dry-cleaner and it looks and feels just as nice as the day you brought it home. Same goes for your portraits; if you invest in the experience, why not invest in the products too.

Clients want digital images to share with friends and family? No problem, we include watermarked files for our clients to post online or email out with every session. We very much discourage our clients from purchasing digital files for printing-use, however if they are that set on having the files for safe-keeping, we donate the disk after a minimum print order has been made so we can assure our clients have the best print products AND their files. For this reason, we have our print products available at affordable rates, so new parents and families can get what they truly want from their portrait session: their memories captured and preserved forever..

To book a session with Stephanie’s Photographs, email contact@stephaniesphotographs.com or call 613-371-4594.