What Does RAW Mean?

The terminology and common practices

Much like any profession or industry, the photography world is chock full of terms and slang that most people wouldn't understand if you sprinkled into normal conversation. One that tends to come up more often than not is "RAW" photos. This week's post serves to educate and inform the non-photographer out there that is interested in learning.

What is a RAW photo?

A RAW photo is one that comes straight off of the camera as it was captured by the photographer, but it's also a file format in which the image is stored on the camera. Typically most photographers will refer to a RAW image it is straight off of the camera before any editing or manipulations are applied.

Do I need the RAW photo's?

That really depends on your needs more than anything. In some commercial work the RAW files are needed so they can be edited to adhere to branding guidelines or a specific style and so on. Modeling agencies may also require RAW photos as well for similar reasons, but it depends on the agency or the intended purpose of the images. More often than not, most portrait sessions (families, seniors or engagements etc) would not need nor be able to edit the RAW files. In order to even open, let alone work on, a RAW file you need photo editing software such as Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Lightroom, so your typical Microsoft Photo Viewer or Apple Preview won't let you even open the photos to see them.

Can I have the RAW files?

That's going to depend on the photographer you work with and their personal choice as an artist and the agreement you sign when you work with them. Speaking largely in general, most photographers do not like to give out the RAW files from their sessions. Speaking personally and for my own business, I typically will not give out the RAW files from a session but I do have a price for the RAW files (if a person is willing to pay for them). Often times when a photographer is willing to issue the RAW files you will also need to sign an agreement to represent the work as "Image by PHOTOGRAPHER, Edited by EDITOR" in which you credit the photographer for capturing the image, but also note that someone other than the photographer edited the image to avoid and brand confusion with their existing work and style.

That about covers the "need to know" when it comes to RAW files and dealing with photographers, but if you have any questions about specifics or anything else that may be confusing or unclear please feel free to shoot me a message here and I will be more than happy to get back to you as soon as I am able to!

Currently Listening To: Break Your Little Heart by All Time Low