When it comes to wedding photography there are some common questions and thoughts you hear, ‘why is wedding photography so expensive?‘ ‘all they do is take photos’ ‘I only want a few photos at the ceremony’ and ‘why can’t I have all the photos?’.
With wedding photography you have to understand what you are paying for, but more importantly you need to understand the value in this. Before we delve into the reasons why photographers won’t give you all the photos taken it is firstly important to understand the reason why you are hiring a wedding photographer in the first place.
All of us here place a high importance on it and have many articles about this, such as 5 Reasons why you should hire a professional wedding photographer. However, the key things about wedding photography is that it captures your day, it captures moments you may not have seen, it captures emotion on your parents faces.
It captured that cute little smile you make as you walk down the aisle and see your husband to be, it is about capturing you getting ready on your wedding day with your bridesmaids, that moment you travel to the church with your proud dad, it goes on. The point is a wedding photographer doesn’t just take and capture photos, a wedding photographer tells a story.
Why Won’t My Photographer Give Me all the Photos
When you hire a wedding photographer you are not just hiring them to provide a service, yes they will be there all day taking photos, however for a wedding photographer that is just a small part of the job and what you are paying for. Once they day is over your photographer will go away and edit your photos, over the course of the day they will have taken hundreds if not thousands of photos.
Do you really want your photographer to just go and print all these photos off and give them to you? Wedding photographers are not hiding anything from you, however what they are doing is putting together a beautiful story.
If you go and watch a film you know it has been edited, on DVD’s you can watch different ending sometimes and you can also see deleted scenes, some of the scenes are not needed for the film or the storyline, when it comes to the end there are different scenes, however there maybe only one ending that truly reflects the story and that is what is used.
Again the same can be said to a book, it would be like asking a photographer to hand over a memory card, USB, or DVD of raw images is akin to asking an author to present you with their book in manuscript format, unedited, unformatted, and including the paragraphs and chapters that didn’t make the cut.
How many photos should a wedding photographer give you?
Your wedding photographer could take a number of photos at any one moment, do you want 200 photos as you walk down the aisle. Some maybe out of focus, some may have someone stood up with the phone in view, some may have you and your father both with your eyes closed.
Do you want these photos? Really? This is only part of the process, photos are also processed and adjusted to get the colour balance just right, also some photos are adjusted to be black and white where they are more suited and also look better.
As well as paying your photographer to take the pictures, you are also paying them to edit them, ensure each photo is the best is can be, ensure it is beautifully cropped and adjusted, the colour and exposure is just right, to ensure that each photos that goes into your album shares a beautiful moment and as a collection tells a magical and romantic story.
You are paying for your photographer to use their knowledge and years of experience to get this just right, to make sure that they don’t just present you with a folder full of hundreds of photos, but a single album of a beautiful story that you can’t wait to relive.
Remember you are not just paying your wedding photographer to take photos, you are hiring them to capture and and tell a story, not just any old story, but your very own unique story of your beautiful wedding day.
Why Won’t My Wedding Photographer Provide RAW Files?
When it comes to photography there are a couple of common questions that come up quite a bit, can I have the unedited photos and can I have the raw files? Both of these questions have similar answers, in terms of firstly why would you want them, and secondly understanding the reasons why you are not given unedited photos, or the raw files.
Firstly what are RAW Files?
RAW refers to a file format which can secure all the image data taken by a camera sensor, image scanner, or motion picture scanner. It is referred to as RAW because of its unprocessed nature, hence not ready for printing. To produce high-resolution images it is of utmost importance to understand RAW files functionality.
Lets take a step back, I am sure your phone has a camera on it and you also may have a small compact digital camera, now when you take a photo with these and it will create a JPEG file where your image is saved. The beauty of JPEG format is that the file and image can be compressed selectively, removing unnecessary image data (information not generally perceived by the viewer of a reproduced image) which helps to make the file smaller. On your camera phone you will have apps, music, emails, messages, and photos, all taking up space, so here you save space by making these files as small as possible so you can get more photos on your phone. Now for the typical person out and about taking photos this is great.
Now if you are a professional photographer you won’t be using a camera phone to captured someones wedding day, you will be using a high spec SLR camera to capture with, however there are huge benefits to shooting in Raw, and it benefits you as the client and the person who will receive these photos.
What are the benefits to your photographer shooting in RAW?
High-quality resolution images – RAW file format guarantees high-quality pictures, as well as the ability to correct problematic images before processing. This means that you can take control of such vital elements in shooting as color space, and proper color balance.
Efficient workflow – RAW file format combines very well with professional photography programs such as Aperture and Lightroom, thereby processing large batches of picture images very fast.
Better Prints – RAW files format can attain the best print due to the finer shade of colors, and tones engaged.
Non-destructive edit mode – Making adjustments on an RAW file is possible without interfering, or altering anything to the original file. This means that one can always reset the changes and save again, without the fear of ruining the image. This is contrary to JPEG files which lose quality every time they are saved as it goes through its compression function each time.
Details – Shooting in RAW facilitates access to noise and sharpening algorithms contained in such programs like Lightroom, which are way stronger than those inbuilt in your camera. This means that one can always take advantage of upcoming technology, to make improvements on RAW files saved.
Flexible White Balance adjustment – With the RAW file format capacity to accommodate more data, adjustment of the White Balance is easily attained. Perfect coloring and great balance are essential ingredients for a splendid image. This combination comes inbuilt in RAW file format, thereby enabling easier and faster adjustments with tremendous effects on the pictures.
Best exposure – Sometimes images can get out underexposed, or overly done, something that needs correction before final print is handed to the consumer. RAW file format makes the requisite correction and editing, without interfering with the quality. At the same time, it is possible to recover clipped shadows and blown highlights.
Excellent levels of brightness – The higher the level of light, the better the outcome of the images captured. RAW format files record the highest standards of light compared to JPEG files.
What the hell does that all mean?
You may have read through the last bit wondering what it all meant and why do you need to know that. The point is you don’t need to understand this or know what any of it means, however what you do need to understand is that when a photo is taken, that is not just it, the taking of the photo is a stage in a longer process.
If you took a picture on your phone and wanted to upload to Instagram, you will take a photo, you may then adjust the brightness, you may crop it, you may add a filter, change the contrast, and then upload. The image you upload may look completely different to the original photo you took. Why did you make these changes? You wanted the photo to look better, you wanted the photo to have a style to it to match your other photos on Instagram.
So what did all the above mean? By shooting in raw a wedding photographer can make lots of complex adjustments to photos to make them look the best they can, they can do this by using professional software where things in the photo could be corrected, like underexposing for the sky.
It is also important to understand that the RAW files are huge in file size, and even if you had the files you cannot just print the images off, you also need special editing software to even open the files. There is certainly more to photography than meets the eye.
Why Photographers Don’t Give Away Raw Files To Clients
The raw files are a bit like an authors first draft, the core story is there but each chapter needs little changes, tweaking, bits removing, bits editing or a little sparkle adding. Do you want to read the first draft that isn’t perfect and has bits that will be changed or removed to make it better, or do you want to read the final edited version which is complete and perfected? The author will want you to read the finished and completed version that’s for sure.
A professional photography doesn’t want to give you the raw files because they are not the final images, they may not look great, they won’t have been edited to match the photographers style, remember you have picked a wedding photographer because you also like their style of photography, you like the way the photos are edited and look, so let your photographer give you the images you hired them for.
You are paying a wedding photographer to capture the story of your wedding day through photos, each photo will be part of that story, a moment of your day, so why would you not want each photo and moment to be the best photo it can be? You are paying for a finished product, a finished story, your story.
The raw files are not important, what is important is that you get the best wedding photos you can of your special day so ensure you hire the best wedding photographer you can afford, take time to check out different photographers and their different styles, look through lots of completed albums and find a style that you love.