Wedding Q+A - Raw files

Should you be asking your wedding photographer for RAW files?


10/20/20234 min read


SO! You’ve found your wedding photographer, you’ve paid your invoices, and the day is approaching fast!
And you’re starting to wonder how your photos will turn out, how many you’ll get and what they will look like. Also how are you going to pose, will your bridal party look ok in different colours, and what the heck do you do with your hands?!!

All very normal question to be asking ahead of your wedding day.

This Wedding Q&A series is going to be me (a photographer) answering some of your burning questions about wedding photography. All things going well I’ll bring on some special guests to write about other aspects of the wedding industry. Hopefully we can answer all your burning questions, and have you feeling wedding ready in no time!

RAW photos - and should you be asking your photographer for copies of them?

So, what are RAW photos?
RAW photos are the unprocessed images captured by the camera, and they usually require editing to correct issues such as exposure and colour balance. Think of these as “unfinished” or “unfiltered”. These may contain technical issues such as poor lighting, weird colours, or blurry shots. These are the base for a photographers editing process, and after a shoot we normally have a LOT of them to cull through, and edit.

RAW files hold a lot of information, more than a standard JPEG. This allows us to edit in a really non-destructive way, and also push the editing further - things like bringing up shadows or reducing highlights. We can also go back and easily change things as and when we need to. Shooting in RAW is a profesional standard nowadays.
It's also worth noting that its not a universal file type, and not every editing, or photo viewing software can open RAW photos.

RAW files have been a hot topic recently, with a lot of photographers taking to Instagram to show RAW vs edited photos. The question of should you ask for RAW files from your wedding photographer is not a new one, and I find it super interesting. It's one of those questions that can really divide the photography community.

A quick note - delivering RAW files is very photographer specific, with some photographers happy to give you RAW files, and others not interested at all. If one of your must-haves is copies of RAW files, then make sure your photographer is ok with it before booking, as not every one will be.

Where do I sit? Im 50/50.

My Raw files look bad, like all the time (I've included some here for you to see) and I never want those to end up on Instagram, or Facebook with my name attached. And while I know that’s never the intent when people ask for RAW files, as a wedding photographer, and small business owner I have to think about things that could potentially harm my reputation, or ability to work.
Unedited RAW photos on Instagram could do that.

So for me, its a conversation around WHY you want the RAW files, what you plan to do with them, how they will be used, and will they ever be shared?

Are you learning photoshop and want to try some editing styles?
Or maybe you want to play with AI and see what you can create?
Do you just want Raw files as a back up in case you ever lose your images, or the editing goes out of style? (Hey - it can happen. Anyone remember spot colouring?).

Im always happy to have a conversation around RAW photos, and in any of the instances above, I would be more than happy to give out files. I would never give EVERY RAW photo I take, since I'm an over shooter and that would be overkill.
But if you want to play with photoshop on a few images sure - let me know you’re top 10 and you can have those files.
Want to back them up for a rainy day? No dramas - here’s all the photos I delivered in RAW Format for you to save somewhere.

Again after we have a conversation, I will normally build this into your wedding contract - that way we can all be on the same page as to what I'll deliver, how you can use them, and making sure that only the edited versions are shared.

There are times I wouldn’t deliver RAW files, and normally my rule is if we haven’t talked about it before the session, then its not something Ill consider after the shoot. Again, I build it all into my contracts (which we can cover in another post) and those are all done very early into the booking process.

But I would love to know your thoughts.

Are you a photographer who offers RAW files? Are you looking for a wedding photographer, and not sure if you should be asking or not?
Let me know in the comments, or jump onto Threads and join the conversation over there! (Im loving Threads at the moment)

Until next time lovers -
Have a great week.

Catherine xx