Hannah and I recently got married. It was a beautiful ceremony that we got to share with our family and friends. Now that it’s over the two of us are taking some time out to write Thank You cards, get copies of our wedding photos printed off and mailing them out to people.
It’s the photos I wanted to spend a little time talking about today because finding a photographer to shoot my wedding the way I wanted it shot was one of the most stressful aspects of our wedding. There was no reason for it to have been that way.
In setting out to find a photographer I had some requirements.
- I wanted the photographer for 8 hours on the day of our wedding.
- I wanted photos taken the whole time.
- I wanted digital copies of all the processed photos.
- I wanted digital copies of all the RAW photos.
I have no need for prints. I have no need for them to be posted on a website for family to view. I just wanted their time, a lot of photos taken, and digital copies of everything.
It was my last request. The one for the digital RAW files that hung me up with most “photographers” (and I am using that term very loosely). The general responce I got from “photographers” regarding my desire to have copies of the RAW image was something like this:
As far as photography, I’m sorry, but I do not give out my RAW files to clients. I am comfortable providing only a finished product of edited JPG files to my clients. I am sure you have reasons you would like RAW files, but I do not work that way.
That was a copy of an actual e-mail I got from a “photographer”! Can you believe it? It says to me that “I am not comfortable with my talent enough to give you the digital RAW images. Only until I have processed and manipulated the photos will I give a digital copy to my clients.” As a result this “photographer” did not get my business. I don’t feel like I lost anything either. It’s not like the photographs this person displayed on their website where any better or worse than any other wedding photographers website I saw. This person just happened to be the first result on my google search, so I e-mailed them. Maybe they should change careers to SEO consulting than stay in photography. At lest they are good at SEO.
Next we have an e-mail where the “Photographer” treats me as if I don’t understand what I am requesting from them. It’s insulting to me and it makes them look stupid. By the way, belittling your possible clients is a great first impression to make! Because nothing says “I am a great photographer” than insulting the one you are hoping is going to hire you.
I need a bit of clarification on the RAW files you requested. By RAW do you mean full resolution? Because RAW is totally unedited and looks worse than a jpg for a point and shoot as the basic adjustments that many cameras do to jpg files, isn’t done. They aren’t a pretty image. And honestly, I don’t release RAW files.
This “Photographer” has already lost my business just for writing me this way. This e-mail is just an insult that feels like a slap in the face. What on earth happen to ‘the customer is always right’? Good luck finding work in the future with that attitude you camera monkey.
Next, we have an e-mail response where the “photographer” is trying to justify their lack of accommodating my request with pure bullshit.
I’m afraid that I cannot accommodate your request for RAW files. It is akin to handing over undeveloped rolls of film to a client. Even in the days of film, which lab one chose to develop and print your film made a difference in the image quality. I don’t honestly see a benefit to the client having them, so if I’m missing something or maybe we are speaking of two different things, please feel free to clarify what benefit you wish to gain from them.
In this e-mail the “photographer” is trying to justify to me why they will not hand over the RAW images. My favorit line is: “I don’t honestly see a benefit to the client having them”. If this person can’t understand why a client would benefit from having the original RAW files, then it astonishes me that they are even still in business. In fact, this person should be required to give up all of their cameras until they do understand how a client could benefit from RAW images. These excuses, in my opinion, just don’t hold water. Based on this email I can only assume that:
- This “photographer” does not believe enough in their own talent to hand over the RAW images. So, why would I even bother hiring them in the first place?
- They probably don’t even shoot in RAW to begin with.
- Their ego is so big that they can’t accept that the customer might know how to use photo editing software better than they do or the customer has someone else in mind to do the photo editing.
The next e-mail came to me as meaningful advice from a friend when I was ready to pull out my own hair in frustration looking for a photographer.
…a word of warning would be that no good photographer will give you the RAW images. It is their art. They will want to be able to edit and perfect the image and doing so will force it to be converted into a JPEG format (or possible other format) making it no longer RAW…
This is just annoying. My friend has only the best intentions for me. That part is clear to see, but the whole thing comes down to my needs. I am requesting the services of a “photographer” to shoot my wedding. These people are not Ansel Adams nor will they be the next Ansel Adams. They just happen (I presume) to own an expensive camera and they think they can shoot better pictures than other people.
I come from a 15 year background of graphic arts and photo manipulation. I am expertly versed in (but not limited to) Aperture, Photoshop, and Lightroom, I am also an amateur photographer myself. I have no doubt about my ability to work with RAW images. I just didn’t want to take photos at my own wedding. I have had friends and family offer to shoot my wedding free of charge. I would be just as happy with their photos as I would be with someone who claims to be a pro and wants to charge me a couple of grand. I just don’t want my friends and family taking photos when they are supposed to be at our wedding enjoying themselves.
What I have learned from this is that most “photographers” are control freaks who, if they gave me the RAW digital files, they won’t be able to modify them to cover what a shitty job they did in the first place. This is why 99% of all wedding photos have that blur/haze effect.
The real problem is that there are a LOT of really, really bad photographers out there. In today’s world, people think equipment equals skill, but in actuality, better equipment just creates a false sense of one’s own abilities. It seems like weddings attract the worst of the worst in photography.
I did eventually find a very polite photographer who was more than accommodating of my requirements. He even advertised them on his website. He shot my whole wedding and reception. He gave me digital copies of the processed photos and the RAW images. As a result this person will get my repeat business and I will recommend him to anyone looking for a photographer in the future.