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Trust Me - You Don't Want Your "RAW" Images: Insight from a Southern California Photog

As a photographer, the subject of "RAW" images comes up fairly often. Sometimes it has come from clients fearing that there may have been some special image left out of their gallery. Also, I've had many potential clients request a discounted rate in exchange for accepting my RAW files instead of completed, edited images, making the argument that if I am doing half the work, I can charge them half the price.

No matter the reason behind the question, the answer to this from most photographers, including me, is always a loud, firm, absolutely NOT. That response is often met by a lot of other questions and confusion. I have heard brides express fear that they were somehow missing out on some super special image that they just weren't given. Some people think that good images can come straight out of the camera and that editing isn't really needed. Others even think that it's ok to have a professional shoot the images for them, but want to take on the editing themselves, to save money, thinking that they will be able to turn the raw images into the same style of images that their photographer has on their website.

Trust me, your photographer is not withholding that amazing image you fear is missing. Raw images are non-printable sources of data, similar to a film negative, that can be manipulated into a beautiful image worthy of hanging on your wall. Post-production (editing) is where the creative magic happens, and you don't want your images without that. And everyone has a different style of editing. You selected your photographer because you loved their work - let them do it! That's what you are paying us for.

If an image wasn't given to you, edited, there is a reason why - someone had their eyes closed, wasn't looking at the camera, or was making a weird face. When you get your photos from me, I want you to revel in the joy and beauty of that moment. I want you to be mesmerized by the images and glow when you see them. Those "not-so- great" images will just take away from that. The images out of the camera are not what you want to see. And no matter how adept you are with Photoshop, duplicating another photographer's work is just not a realistic goal. Trust me, that's what you hired me for.

In case you still don't believe me, I am going to break my own rule about publicly displaying RAW images. I dug into my archives and found some before and after images to share with you. Can you figure out which are the raw images?

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