Why Can’t I Have All the Unedited Files?


September 12, 2022

Because you just can’t. 

Okay, that’s a bit blunt, but let me explain why nearly all professional photographers will not give you unedited and/or RAW images.

I’m going to stress the word “professional” here because not all photographers who take money in exchange for shoots are running a professional business. They are not paying taxes. They are not insured. They are doing a hobby for profit. That’s the truth. Even then though, many will not give unedited/RAW images.

What are RAW images? 

I’m going to give the simplest answer here possible. RAW format is a file type that allows a photographer to capture an image with as much digital information as possible. This is very helpful in the editing process as it gives us more information to work with to bring the photo to life. Imagine playing in a sandbox. Do you want a sandbox with 1 inch of sand or a sandbox with 10 inches? That’s the difference. 

In order to open a RAW file, you must have rights to a software called Lightroom which enables you to upload and open RAW files. Part of a photographer’s job is to upload these images to Lightroom, make necessary edits, and then export them as jpegs. The jpegs are the files that clients are able to open and print from. In a nutshell, you don’t want RAW files because you likely can’t access them.

Well what about unedited images? Why can’t I have those?

A lot of work is done to photos after they are captured in the camera. Unedited images don’t represent a photographer’s work. Honestly, most of them aren’t very good otherwise the photographer would have chosen them for your final gallery. You hire a photographer for their creative eye. You’ve got to trust them to capture and choose the best images from your time together. Of course, it’s important to let the photographer know your goals for the shoot ahead of time, but after the shoot is complete, it’s their job to go through the images and chose the best ones. If you don’t trust that they are capable of this, then you might want to rethink why you choose that photographer in the first place. Believe me, if a photo didn’t make the cut into your final gallery, there’s a good reason. Not every photo captured at a session ends up being flattering. 

Look at it this way, if you order a cake, you don’t ask for just the cake. You expect it to come iced and decorated. We don’t want to give you “just the cake” – it doesn’t represent our best work and it just won’t “taste” the same.



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