"Can I get ALL the raw photographs? "

If you're looking at getting some photographs of your Wedding, Family or Company event done, this might be a question that pops up in your head. It's a genuine question photographers hear often and you might get slightly confused when this benign request gets persuaded against or rejected by your photographer.

So why don't professional photographers just hand over all the raw files?

Of course, I'm not referring to photographs you specifically requested for. What I'm referring to here is why photographers won't give you every single photograph they took during your session. I get it, you want all the pictures you paid for, right? But trust me, it's not because we want to hoard all the good stuff to ourselves.

Raw files are a different beast of it's own ...

First and foremost, we take A LOT of photographs and raw files aren't exactly what you'd call "user-friendly." They're basically the digital equivalent of a blank canvas that is also painfully huge. They take up a ton of space on a hard drive and can be a pain to transfer. And unless you have the right software and know-how, they're not going to look like much on their own (You might not even be able to open it!). Sure, they contain all the data from your shoot, but that data needs to be processed in order to turn it into the beautiful, polished images you see in your photographer's portfolio. Think of it like baking a cake. Sure, you could give someone a bag of flour, a few eggs, and some sugar, but that doesn't mean they're going to end up with a delicious dessert. They need the recipe, the technique, the equipment and the experience to turn those raw ingredients into something truly special.

Beautiful bride with bridesmaids in sage green gowns walking in front of a white chapel, CHIJMES , Singapore

I'm absilutely in love with Eunice the beautiful bride and her wedding party! One of the funnest bunch!

It's takes up tonnes of space and frankly, it's overwhelming ...

Photographers consistently photographs THOUSANDS of images in one gig. No joke, I photographed a 2.5 hours Birthday Party recently and walked away with nearly 2000 photographs. For weddings, it's 4000+ photographs and I don't even consider myself an overshooter (someone who photographs too much). But in order to ensure I capture the most beautiful and candid moments, it's imperative I keep the shutter down. So we inadvertently walk away with tonnes of photographs.

Photographers allocate time and effort to go through each photographs to select the best of the best to be baked and delivered - it is priced into our package because we KNOW it has to be done. It's a running joke amongst photographers that culling (the process of selecting) is the LEAST favourite part of this job and I assure you it's far from a joke haha. Sure, you can do it yourself but I have a feeling it'd start to lose it's novelty after a while.

And let's not forget the amount of disk space you'd have to allocate since each raw file is roughy 6 to 13 Megabytes each. It makes me tired just to think about it, and I do this for a living haha.

Brewing the magic ...

Thirdly, post-processing is a huge part of the photography process. It’s where the magic happens! Part of what you're paying for when you hire a professional photographer is their expertise in editing and post-processing. They know how to take a raw file (that sometimes might be taken in subpar scenarios - think terribly orange light and weird shadows) and turn it into a work of art. By giving you all the raw files, they're essentially giving you half-finished products. It's like ordering a cake and getting a bag of flour and some eggs instead. Sure, you could try to bake it yourself, but it's not going to turn out as good as if the baker did it.

Consistent branding is important ...

Another reason we don’t give out raw files is to protect our brand and reputation. If we were to give out unedited photos, it could potentially harm our business as they are not up to our standards. JacqAndTheCamera brands itself on achieving bright and dreamy photographs and that is what my clients want when they come to me. They are hoping to achieve those bright and glowy photographs they see in my portfolio and that is what I strive to give them. Photographers work hard to develop our own unique editing style and we want our clients to experience that magic, not just a bunch of uninspiring unedited files.

And there will be A LOT of (unflattering) duplicates ...

Lastly, let’s be real, some of those raw files may not be the most flattering. We take a lot of shots to get the perfect one, and not all of them are winners. Google "Celebrities Bad Photos" and we can see how even the most perfect looking humans are not safe from a bad photo.

This is especially true when young children, fur children or big groups of people are involved. We snap a lot of photographs to get the perfect shot where everyone is looking at the camera. Tell me if I'm wrong but I have the feeling you don't want 30 photographs with various half closed eyelids of your bridal party in the same pose right?

How do I make sure I get those important milestones captured?

So we've gone through all the reasons why your photographs won't give you all the pictures. But you're still worried your photographer won't deliver what you want and you'll miss those important milestones. Here's how to make sure you get the pictures you want.

Find the right photographer

Finding a photographer who's style matches your ideal is important. Another thing that's important which many people might not consider is whether the personality and working style of the photographer fits you. Which is why it's important to peruse the photographer's portfolio and maybe interview them prior.

For wedding clients, as our engagement can go on for up to 8 hours or more and it is SUCH an important milestone in life where you only get one chance. I always recommend having a Phone or Zoom Call to determine if we are a good fit for each other. If you have no time for these calls, you can also check out your photographer's Social Media accounts to get an idea of who they are. I'm most active on Instagram and you will find my most updated works there.

Let them know your requirements beforehand

Let your photographers know exactly what you want out of the session. If you're hoping to get canvas worthy photographs of your young family to hang in your new BTO flat, let the photographer know so they can advise you accordingly. If you want more candid photographs of your guests during your wedding over bridal details (think rings, shoes, wedding invites etc), let your photographer know so they can prioritise their time. If there is a particular set of photographs that you want and know is happening somewhere at your event, let the photographer know. The photographer will take note and make time to be there to capture it the best they can.

This is why for Wedding engagements, I always request my couples to fill in a questionnaire to help me understand their needs better. By knowing where their expectations are, I can not just capture exactly what they want but I can also advise realistically how much time to allocate in their timeline.

Communicate openly ...

I cannot stress enough how important open communication is. If you want a particular photograph to look a particular way, share your vision with your photographer and they will figure out how to make it happen. It might not happen exactly how you think it is supposed to becausethere are many technical aspect that makes up a photograph. But share your vision with your photographer and trust them to deliver it to the best of the scenario.

And if you're worried about missing photos, it's always perfectly fine to reiterate your requirements again during the session itself. As long as you are polite and respectful about it, the photographer should have absolutely no problem with it and will in fact, appreciate your reminder.

So there you have it, folks. Raw files are like the photographer's secret sauce, and they're just not as tasty on their own. At the end of the day, your photographer wants nothing more than for you to be happy with your images. Trust your photographer to show you their best work, and let them do what they do best - creating beautiful images for you to cherish for years to come. The next time your photographer tells you that they're not going to give you the raw files, just remember: they're doing it for your own good.