Should you ever give a client raw files? One portrait photographer says “no!”


posted Monday, February 8, 2016 at 8:24 PM EDT

If you've ever been asked by a client for raw image files, you perhaps found yourself hesitant. Photographer Jessica Kobeissi has published a video in which she discusses various reasons why photographers should not give out their raw files.

Jessica says that "Asking for raw photos from us [photographers], it's like asking an artist for their unfinished painting. You're essentially asking us for a product that isn't even finished." This leads into her first reason for not giving out raw files, that they're not the final product, and are basically the materials that a photographer uses to create the final products that they sell to the client.

Another reason for not wanting to give clients raw files is that another prospective client could conceivably see the raw files rather than the finished product, perhaps getting the wrong idea about the quality of your work. We all know that a raw file straight from the camera can sometimes look soft and dull, but a prospective client might not know this about raw files, leading to a potentially poor first impression. If you have a signature post-processing style or look that make your images unique to you, this will be lost on anyone who sees only raw files.

Photographers rightfully take ownership of their work. It's not easy to make good images, so the idea of giving someone a raw image file that they can edit and manipulate without your consent is a troubling prospect. Sure, someone can edit JPEG files if you provide them to a client, but giving someone a raw file is opening up the door for much more pervasive editing and manipulation.

Photographers are judged by their publicly-available work. By giving out raw files, you risk people judging you based on your unfinished work rather than the final product that you actually want to share or sell.

To see Jessica Kobeissi's work, visit her website and follow her on Instagram.

Ultimately, it's up to each of us to determine what works best. Being up front with your clients about how you handle digital files is ideal, you can avoid some messy discussions if you take a clear stance right from the get-go. Readers, do you ever share raw files with clients? If so, we'd like to hear from you in the comments section down below!

(Seen via ISO 1200