I’m Being Asked for My RAW Files. What Do I Do?

In the world of photography, you will probably encounter a time when someone asks for your RAW files.

RAW files are the digital negatives of your photos, and they contain all of the data captured when you took the photo.

This can be a little daunting if you don’t know what to do with them, but thankfully, there are some things you can do to protect yourself and your work. 

We’ll discuss what it means when someone requests your RAW files and how you can respond in a way that protects your work while still being professional.

I’m Being Asked for My RAW Files. What Do I Do?

What to do when a client asks for RAW files

It’s critical to educate clients that the photographs belong to you.

They also don’t have to feel bad about wanting more photos since they paid for them, so it’s only natural that they’re going to want the best experience possible.

What Does It Mean When Someone Asks for Your RAW Files?

When someone asks for your RAW files, they ask to see the unedited photos you took before you made any adjustments to them in post-processing.

They may want these files for several reasons, but the most common is to make their edits.

When asked for your RAW files, it’s important to understand what they mean by ‘raw photos.’ 

  1. They might be asking if they can have access to all of the images from the shoot to go through on their own and edit them. 
  2. They may be asking for a single image to make changes on.

When Someone Asks for Your RAW Files, How Should You Respond?

What to say when someone asks for RAW photos

It’s important when you are asked for your RAW files that you respond appropriately so as not to offend the person who is asking while also protecting yourself and your work.

There are some steps to follow someone requests your RAW files:

  1. Politely explain that the photos belong to you and were not paid to take them. You can even refer them to your copyright information if they are curious about it.
  2. Explain that post-processing is an important part of your creative process and that you would be happy to share some edited versions of the photos instead.
  3. If they are insistent on getting the RAW files, try to negotiate a price for them. This can help protect your work while still providing the client with what they want.
  4. Ask what their intentions are with the files and why they need them. If they can’t provide a clear answer, don’t give them the files.
  5. Please give them a selection of edited photos instead of the RAW files. This will show that you have put in time and effort into your work, and they won’t be able to make any changes without your permission.

Reasons For Not Giving Out RAW Files

While some clients will be understanding and respectful about your decision not to give out RAW files, others may try to push the issue. 

Many people want full control over their photos and won’t feel like they’re getting what they paid for if you don’t provide the RAW versions of them.

You must understand why someone might want your RAW files before deciding whether to give them to them.

If they can’t provide a clear answer, don’t give them the files.

Some reasons for not giving out RAW files include:

  • You spent time editing the photos, and you don’t want someone to make changes without your permission.
  • The person may be asking for the files to use commercially without your consent.
  • If you give someone RAW files, they could share photos online that weren’t meant to be shared, and this will damage both of your reputations.
  • Giving people access to these images is a risk that not everyone should take.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I charge for giving out RAW files?

This depends on the situation and relationship you have with your client.

However, most professional photographers would not charge for RAW files unless a specific agreement was in place beforehand stating that this would be the case.

Is it disrespectful if I ask for RAW files in return?

It’s not disrespectful to ask for RAW files in return if you are clear about what they are and why you need them.

However, it’s important to understand that you should not ask for your clients’ RAW files without a good reason.

Final Thoughts

No matter what you decide to do when someone asks for your RAW files, it’s important to stay professional and courteous.

By responding in a way that shows you respect their request while also protecting your work, you can maintain good relations with the person who asked for them.