The reason why photographers do not give RAW or Unedited files to their clients is that the RAW files are a form of negatives owned by them. Even when a photograph is being commissioned, the client always pays for the final product such as JPG, and not the original image itself.
Reasons why I’m not delivering Unedited images:
They are Unfinished Images. RAW files are unedited and therefore are not an accurate representation of my work and my brand. If you are taking on clients, it is vital that you deliver to them only your very best work. If you ordered a cake from the best bakery in town, would you expect the baker to deliver you a tray full of the ingredients? I wouldn’t. I hired the baker for a cake. Not an unfinished product.
It Removes My Standard of Excellence. As a professional, I must set the standard for my business. This is why I cull images and remove those that aren’t up to my standard. This is also why it is important to only deliver products that meet my standard of excellence. An unedited file does not meet my standard of excellence. If I decided to deliver these files to my clients, it removes my discretion from the process, and that doesn’t sound like a smart way to run a business.
Editing is a part of my Service. Clients hire me based on my portfolio and my finished work. Editing the images is part of that process and is a major factor in the process of creating a final image. I won’t deliver a half-finished product because editing is part of the service I provide, to ensure that my clients are fully happy with their final images.
The Way I Run my Photography Business. Sometimes the client feels entitled to everything that I shoot because that’s what their other photographer did. This is 2 ways where I need to make sure to avoid miscommunication: 1) Managing your client’s expectations while being clear about what is included in the package they purchase ahead of time, and 2) Utilizing a contract. When all else fails, I refer to the contract. If the client is not on board with my business process, perhaps they aren’t my clients.
Before coming to the photo session, each client should read and sign the contract which mentioned: “Photographic Materials: All photographic materials, including but not limited to negatives, transparencies, proofs, and previews, RAW files shall be the exclusive property of the Photographer and will not be provided to the client.”
*Unedited files are not provided to the client. They are Unfinished Images. RAW files are unedited and therefore are not an accurate representation of my work or my brand.