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  • Writer's pictureRobert Adcock

Why Photographers won’t give you unedited photos.

In my considerable time as a wedding photographer there are some common questions and thoughts which I hear “why is wedding photography so expensive? I have some beautiful photographs but not as many as I am sure the photographer took, why hasn’t the photographer given me all the photographs?”, and it’s not just me, every wedding photographer I have met and articles I have read say the same thing.

Before I delve into the intricacies of why photographers won't give you unedited photographs it is important to have an understanding of why you are hiring a wedding photographer in the first instance. I have written several blogs on this subject; The inconvenience of not hiring a professional wedding photographer and 5 simple steps to consider when choosing a wedding photographer are two very useful pieces which I recommend every perspective client to read whether they hire me or any other wedding photographer. However, some of the key things relating to wedding photography are that it captures your day, it captures moments you will have certainly missed, it captures moments of joy on family and friend’s faces and, most importantly I feel, it is the creation of a family heirloom to be looked back on in years to come.


When you hire a wedding photographer you are not just hiring them to take some photographs of your very special day, sure, that is a big part of it, they will be there for the day taking photographs but this is just the start of it and a small part of the wedding photographers work and what you are paying for. Once the day is over the photographer’s real work starts. You're paying them a not inconsiderable amount of money and why photographers won't give you unedited photographs is that editing, as previously altered is a necessity.

Don’t get me wrong, wedding photography is a skilled job that requires knowledge and experience gained over years but after the event the photographer will have hundreds of photographs to go through, evaluate and edit, do you really want the photographer simply to pass these to you? Wedding photographers are not hiding anything they are putting together a beautiful story. Think of it this way; Any film, tv programme or even news report is edited to tell the story, some parts are tweaked and others deleted entirely but in the end there is the perfect story, that is what photographers are doing. Asking the photographer for every photograph is like asking an author to give you the entire manuscript for their test book.

I cannot stress enough how essential the editing process is and advise clients to read my blog; photo editing, it’s a necessity rarely considered by clients, for most it is a real eye opener. Look at the quick example below, it demonstrates how a photograph can look when it comes out of the camera (left) and the results of editing (right). I am pretty sure that, looking at this example, you would rather the photographs were edited.


One of the most common questions I come across regarding photographs already taken is “can I have the unedited photographs?” or “can I have the RAW files?”. both questions elicit a similar answer, firstly, why would you want them? secondly, what can you do with them?


RAW refers to a file format which can secure all the image data taken by a camera sensor, image scanner, or motion picture scanner. It is referred to as RAW because of its unprocessed nature, hence not ready for printing. To produce high-resolution images it is of utmost importance to understand RAW files functionality.
Let’s take a step back, I am sure your phone has a camera on it and you also may have a small compact digital camera, now when you take a photo with these and it will create a JPEG file where your image is saved. The beauty of JPEG format is that the file and image can be compressed selectively, removing unnecessary image data (information not generally perceived by the viewer of a reproduced image) which helps to make the file smaller. On your camera phone you will have apps, music, emails, messages, and photos, all taking up space, so here you save space by making these files as small as possible so you can get more photos on your phone. Now for the typical person out and about taking photos this is great.

Now if you are a professional photographer you won’t be using a camera phone to captured someones wedding day, you will be using a high spec SLR camera to capture with, however there are huge benefits to shooting in Raw, and it benefits you as the client and the person who will receive these photos.


High quality resolution imagery - Raw file format combines very well with professional photography programs such as Photoshop, Aperture and Lightroom, thereby processing large batches of picture images very fast.
Better prints - Raw files produce the best prints because of the finer shades and tones they contain.

Non-destructive editing - Image editing on a Raw file is possible without any detriment to the original photo. This means that one can revert back to the original image at any stage without any loss of quality.

More - Details in the image like noise (graining caused by low light) sharpening, white balance, exposure levels are all changeable in editing programmes such as Photoshop. Although the camera can effect some of these the power of editing programmes is far stronger than that of any camera.

In Summary:

So, why photographers won't give you unedited photographs is quite clear and acceptable. You are paying a wedding photographer to capture the story of your wedding day through photos, each photo will be part of that story, a moment of your day, so why would you not want each photo and moment to be the best photo it can be? You are paying for a finished product, a finished story, your story.

The raw files are not important, what is important is that you get the best wedding photos you can of your special day so ensure you hire the best wedding photographer you can afford, take time to check out different photographers and their different styles, look through lots of completed albums and find a style that you love.

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