FAQ: Why can't I have the unedited or original files?
Lately, clients have been asking if they can have the original or unedited files. I was going to wait to do an FAQ on this until I was done with my recap posts, but the question is being asked so frequently that I decided to do the post a little earlier.
Unedited files don't meet my quality standards. I'm very adamant about producing the highest quality work I can for my clients, and unedited files don't come anywhere close to those standards. The client might not care, and might just want the files, but if they share those files, it reflects poorly on me and makes me look like a bad photographer.
This won't come as a surprise to many of you, but I shoot manual. For those of you who don't know, that means I adjust my aperture, shutter speed, and ISO myself as oppose to having the camera do it. Often times, I'll intentionally underexpose the photos from a shoot so that the highlights aren't blown out, and I can retain as much information as possible. This means that if I were to give the client the unedited files, they would end up getting a large amount of dark photos.
Another reason why I don't give clients unedited or original files, is because it makes it easier for the client, or someone the client knows, to edit the photos in a way I might not necessarily approve of. This point really only applies if I were to give the client the RAW files, but I thought it was worth mentioning.
The final reason I don't give my clients the unedited/original file is because I use RAW files. If you aren't sure what a RAW file is, then chances are you use JPEGs, which is a much more popular file format. The biggest difference between RAW files and JPEG files, is that RAW files retain all of the information, while JPEGs get rid of all the information the camera decides it doesn't "need." Basically, a RAW file is a completely unedited file, while a JPEG has been adjusted (edited) by the camera. RAW files are often underexposed, and, most importantly for this point, flat looking. Since the camera hasn't done anything to a RAW file like it would with a JPEG, RAW files always need to be edited in post-production. To many of you, a JPEG probably sounds like the much better option, but RAW files are immensely easier to edit. Not to mention, not only do I know what I want the photo to look like more than my camera does, but adjusting things like white balance and the exposure in post production looks much better when using a RAW file.
In summary, I don't give my clients the unedited or original files because I use RAW files and the original/unedited files will most likely be underexposed, which all result in the original/unedited files not meeting my quality standards. Unedited/original files could also potentially be easier for someone besides me to edit in a way I don't approve of. There are absolutely no exceptions to this; I will not give a client the unedited/original file.
Below is an unedited file compared to the final edit of a family I recently worked with. Please feel free to try to make an argument as to why anyone would want the unedited file...
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Dan Pomykalski (PAWM-I-KALS-kee) is a portrait photographer based in Madison, WI. Dan works with both individual clients and larger organizations, such as the Wisconsin Alumni Foundation, the Janesville Jets, the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, and the University of Wisconsin-Rock County. Dan was also the photo editor for the student-run newspaper at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, the Royal Purple, for the 2013 Spring and 2013 Fall semesters. Although Dan's clients are mostly from the Dane County area, he is more than happy to travel wherever necessary.
Although Dan is primarily a portrait photographer, he has ample amounts of experience in other types of photography such as weddings, events, product photography, real estate, and sport photography.
In 2016, expertise.com ranked Dan Pomykalski Photography the 2nd best portrait photographer in Madison, WI out of 204 others in the area.
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