Saravanan & Bama

Saravanan & Bama | February 6, 2022 | Holy Tree Sri Balasubramaniar Temple, Singapore


Ever wondered why photographers give only the final, edited images and not the RAW files? While there is no specific rule, they aren’t sent to clients due to several reasons. Let’s look into 4 major contributing factors:

1| Ownership

There is always the possibility of getting one’s work stolen and RAW files are proof that the photographer took the photograph. Even for paid commissions, the client is owed only the final product and not the RAW files unless it is specifically mentioned in the contract.

2| Brand value

If the RAW files are given to clients, anyone can digitally alter and upload them online. Those who view the “edited” photos may mistake it as the photographer’s calibre, which can then possibly hamper his/her reputation and brand value as well.

3| Size and accessibility

Unlike JPGs, which are a universal file format, you can’t upload and share RAW files easily as they take up a lot of space (more like insufficient space!) and can only be accessed or opened by a few selected software programs.

4| Making ‘Magic’

RAW files are almost always very unappealing to look at because the magic happens in the editing process. Every photographer has a unique way of editing their images and that specific style may be what defines them. By giving the RAW files, their work will no longer have the ‘wow’ factor. Furthermore, clients may not be able to interpret the photographer’s thought process and ultimately fail to understand the concept behind the RAW files.

Nevertheless, if clients decide they want the RAW files as well, it is important to discuss it with the photographer upfront. However, clients do have to take note that gaining ownership of all the commissioned photos may cost them more money as the photographer may have to renounce their professional rights.

Here’s food for your thought: Photographers don’t serve RAW files for the same reason that Chefs don’t serve RAW meat.