Why I don’t give unedited RAW files to clients

Why I don’t give unedited RAW files to clients

Ottawa Portrait Photographer

To begin, I don’t give unedited RAW files to clients. Once in a while I get a request from a client who either wants all of the photos from their portrait session or wedding.  They usually also ask to have their unedited RAW files (which most non-photographers can’t even open because they don’t have the proper software).  Or worse: they want everything (photos with their eyes closed, out of focus, under exposed, etc.)  You name it, they want it.  I don’t give my clients every single photo that my camera snapped of them.  And I don’t let them see every single photo that I shot in order to choose the final picks for their gallery.  Imagine if they had their hearts set on a photo that was out of focus?  What a disappointment that would be for them. That’s why I cull through the photos myself and get rid of ones that don’t match up to my standards.

If you’re wondering why my clients don’t get to see every single photo that I shoot of them, let me explain.  I have an eye for what makes a great photo, so I only choose the best photos and delete all photos that are not up to my standards (ie. eyes closed, out of focus, under or over exposed).  My clients hire me based on my work and style of editing–not unedited photos or quantity over quality.

An Artist Wants to Give you the Masterpiece

I’m a professionally trained photographer.  I’m an artist, so I work in the creative realm.  For a creative person, giving unedited photos to a client is like a baker giving the bride and groom just the freshly baked cake without decorating it, or an artist selling a painting without the paint–just the rough sketch.  To a professional photographer, giving a client the unedited RAWs is essentially giving the client the rough sketch, or an unfinished painting.  It’s not quite the masterpiece we’re capable of creating in post production.  Going that route doesn’t show our polished skills and makes us look sub par when displayed to everyone to view.  I won’t risk my reputation on that, so I (and other professional photographers) don’t give unedited photos to clients.  Period.


Would you ask a baker to give you just the baked cake without the icing & then do it yourself? No? It really is the same thing when you ask a photographer for the unedited photos.


I tweak my photos and remove things that are distracting. In this instance, I needed mom to make sure baby was safe, but I also needed her out of the photo. That’s where multiple images & Photoshop come into play.

Professionals Don’t Give out the RAW Files

Honestly, I think the only photographers who give unedited photos are students or others starting out in the business who either don’t have the proper software to edit their photos or just don’t know how to edit.  We refer to them as “shoot and burn” photographers because they literally upload their photos onto their computer then burn straight to CD to hand over to the client.  However, I spend 5-6 hours of post production time by going through each photo meticulously to not only choose which photos make the cut, but to edit out things like blemishes and dark circles under the eyes, sometimes head-swapping or face-swapping, etc.
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Removing dark circles under eyes & adding pop of colour.

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I sometimes head swap to get better smiles for group portraits.


The RAWs are flat and bland if you don’t do anything to them. I make the colours POP in post production.

Photoshop is Usually Necessary:

When it comes to getting rid of blemishes, I’m a Photoshop wizard.  I know how I’d want my own photos to look.  Thus, I certainly wouldn’t want to have the dark circles under my eyes showing.  Or if I had a zit, I wouldn’t want it to be in the photo that’s for darn sure.  So, I extend the same courtesy to my clients by removing undesirable blemishes.  This includes newborn photography since many newborns will get baby acne.  I can’t give them photos of themselves or their family members where they don’t look their best.  My clients appreciate the extra effort I put into tweaking their photos.

I remove all baby acne and make sure that baby’s skin looks smooth.

My clients have enough faith in my ability as a professional to choose the very best photos for them.  I stand by my policies in order to protect my business brand and reputation.  If you have faith in my photography abilities, like the rest of my clients, I would love to hear from you.  Contact me today to book your portrait session.

You can view more of my fully edited portrait photography and my fully edited wedding photography.

My portrait and wedding photography has been featured on various photography blogs, including: How He Asked, I Heart Faces, Melissa Hearts Weddings, Life + Lens, Toddler Friends, Beauty & Lifestyle Mommy Magazine, Ottawa Wedding Magazine, Your Theme Party, Bridebox, Daydreaming Bride, SnapKnot, Champagne Sweets, Equal and Forever, Kara’s Party Ideas, Plans and Presents, The Westchester Wedding Planner, Wedding Thingz, Brown Sparrow and Weddabroad.

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