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Every once in a while, I will get an email from a potential client who is asking me if I would be willing to either
A) Deliver all the unedited photos so they can look through them, or
B) Give them the unedited RAW files so that they can edit them themselves (they have Photoshop, so why not save on those editing costs?)
Let me tell you why that’s a terrible idea. And I’ll explain it with a story. And it’ll be a cake story, because I’m kind of hungry right now. ;)
Imagine this scenario… You’re engaged!! Your man just popped the question, and your mind is spinning with all the wedding planning that needs to be done! First on your list is a cake tasting, because, HELLO, cake. You and your new fiancé go to the best cake baker in town, and you flip through their magazine showing their incredible cake designs! Then you’re brought out some samples to try, and oh my word you’ve never tasted anything better. You know that no other cake will make you as happy as this cake will. And the cakes in that magazine? Flawless. But there’s one little problem… You and your fiancé are on a pretty tight budget, and you know that you can’t afford this cake.
So you tell the baker “Listen, we are absolutely in love with you and your cakes! Everything looks perfect! We need you to be a part of our wedding. But would you be willing to just bake us this delicious red velvet cake? My Aunt Betsy has some cake decorating tools, and she can decorate it for us. In fact, she uses Wilton tools, just like you do!”. The cake baker agrees, and you are ecstatic, because you just got this amazing wedding cake, for half the price! Go you!
It’s a few days before the wedding, and you show your Aunt Betsy some pictures from the cake baker’s magazine. “This is exactly what I want!!” Aunt Betsy says “No problem! This is going to look gorgeous!”. You leave Aunt Betsy’s house absolutely glowing… why doesn’t everybody do it this way?? Save all the money!!
It’s the day of your wedding, and you just said “I Do”!! You and your new husband walk hand in hand into the reception area to get a sneak peek of it before all the guests arrive. Of course, you make a bee-line for the cake table, because you haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since your cake tasting. As soon as you see it, your heart drops. This is not what you wanted. It doesn’t look anything like the magazines. The icing is drooping and the gum paste flowers look a little more like big blobs of goo.
How could this happen?? You ordered your cake from the best baker in town!! Aunt Betsy even had the same tools as Mr. Cake Baker. How did this go so wrong?
I realize that is a very dramatic story. But this is exactly what happens when brides ask for unedited photos. Sure, you’re getting the photographer’s years of knowledge and expertise, and you’ll be receiving the photos that you want. But I cannot stress this enough. Unedited photos are not the finished product. In fact, that’s so important, I’m going to say it again.
UNEDITED PHOTOS ARE NOT THE FINISHED PRODUCT.
Buying the undecorated red velvet cake from the baker isn’t the finished product. Receiving unedited wedding photos is not the finished product.
You see the photographs on our websites, and the images we post to Instagram, and you’re in love with them! You think we will be a perfect fit for your wedding day, but you’re just not quite sure you can fit it in your budget (just so we’re clear, I’m not at all knocking a bride’s budget! Budgets are super important to have!!). So you think “maybe if she doesn’t edit the photos, we’ll get a chunk of change knocked off the package price! My BFF has Photoshop and Lightroom, I’m sure they’ll turn out the same”.
This kind of thinking makes sense. And that is exactly why I make posts like these! I am not angry at anybody that asks me this! Instead I try my best to educate them as to why that is not a good idea.
If I were to give you the unedited images, you would not be receiving what you see on my website. And isn’t that the whole point of hiring me? You like the finished product, so why would you want something completely different from that?
It’s almost like having hair that reaches your belly button and taking a photo of a pixie cut to your hair stylist and saying “I absolutely love this style!! I want my hair to look just like it. But whatever you do, don’t cut my hair!!” That makes no sense!
I am going to show you a few before and afters of my photos. Are these photos technically good photos because of the composition and focus? Yes! But I wouldn’t deliver them to the client this way, because it does not fit my style. When you book me (or anyone!) as your photographer, you are not just paying for my time. I have spent years developing my style and editing process, so taking that away is just not an option. It’s a HUGE part of the process when you book a wedding photographer. Just like you wouldn’t say “Hey! We really want you as our wedding photographer. But can we get a discount if you don’t bring your camera along?” ;)
The photos that you see on blogs and websites don’t originally look like that. It takes years of editing knowledge to be able to get them to look like that! Case in point:
As a photographer, editing photos does not mean that you are a bad photographer. The point of editing is to enhance the photo. Like Keaton’s suit here! In person, it was a gorgeous blue, but it photographed almost grey. I was able to bring that blue back later in editing, and also make the golden hour light POP, just like it was when we were taking the photos!
My goal when I’m editing photos is always to make it look like it looked when I was standing there! And the cold hard truth is that no matter how amazing of a photographer you are, the camera still never perfectly translates that into an image. You can get very close, but it still isn’t how I like it! Editing allows me to enhance the photo to it’s real, and natural state.
Wouldn’t you rather receive the bright, warm, properly exposed photo on the right?
I hope that this was helpful for all future brides out there! In case you haven’t gotten my point, editing is so important ;) Please don’t ask your photographer to give up something that is essential to your happily ever after Wedding Experience.