Photographs: A Two Fold Item

Imagine you are planning an anniversary party.  You find a baker who has AMAZING cakes. You ooh and aw over them, and your stomach grumbles. You check their price and, oh wow, they are right in your budget! You can work with that, for the quality you’ll be getting from them!

So you meet them, and you love their personality. You discuss what you want the cake to look like (3 tiers, no columns, yes we would like red velvet, marble, and chocolate please). They begin to ask you about the icing, and you smile and declare “Oh no, we just need you to bake the cake. We’ll finish it ourselves.”

If you just said “Wait, what?” You are not alone.

It just plain doesn’t make sense to ask a baker to only do part of their job. You are hiring them based not only on how good the cake tastes, but also the presentation. That was one of the key points in wanting them to do that job for you.

And yet you wouldn’t imagine how many people just want a photographer to hand over their unretouched images. They want to see every image. They want you to provide every image, even if it might be a test shot or one where the subject sneezed or cough. I’ve seen people on craigslist saying “You don’t even have to have a camera, you can use mine”. 

Yeah, needless to say I didn’t contact them.

Let me say now, that all photographers have varying opinions on this. Some insist on never giving out or showing the untouched files, some will happily fork them over for free, some will ask for compensation. All of this also depends on the wording you choose: if you ask for the RAW files, the negatives, all images, and so on. Misunderstandings are so easy to happen when terminology doesn’t match up, and both photographer and client must be on the same page to have a fun and informative conversation.

creative model photography

Model close up

First, let’s discuss the practical reasons I don’t hand out the files
without editing them: most people wouldn’t be able to view them.

I shoot
in RAW format, which is basically another file format. Most people are
only familiar with .gif or .jpg (or .jpeg). RAW files are larger, which
means more memory taken up, and also require a special program to view
them, which would slightly negate the whole reason of having them.

Not every picture turns out. Someone is blinking, making a goofy face, the light isn’t right, etc. That’s why I ensure options. Out of 200 pictures, perhaps 50 are keepers and will be retouched. Those other 150 are duplicates: same pose, perhaps an inch to the left or right or a bit darker or lighter, etc.

I understand the desire to see everything. A lot of my clients are
convinced they are not photogenic, or they aren’t used to having their
picture taken, and they get self conscious. And they want to see all the images because they are so convinced that they to look absolutely perfect at all times lest they be judged. 

When I compose an image, I don’t just see what is in front of me, I see what it can be. I know that I’ll arrange the settings on the camera and angle myself just so and get the perfect black and white image. Or the perfect silhoutte. Or a super awesome fairy tale photo.

The camera can get really, really close to what I see, but it doesn’t
always get it exactly right in terms of shadowing, coloring, and
composition. The final product is the important part.

Be sure to ask your photographer’s stance on image delivery and
retouching before you book them to make sure you get exactly what you
want! I tend to not give out images, but I also retouch 90% of the images I take, and I make sure my clients have a huge variety in their finished photographs.

If you hire someone, you should be able to trust them. You should trust your baker to make a spectacular delicious and appealing cake. You should trust your housekeeper to not pry into your valuable. You should trust your hair stylist to work on your hair. And you can trust me to provide you beautiful images that showcase your personality and tell your stories.

Using Format