Blog | Knoxville Maternity & Newborn Photographer

Why Your Photographer Won’t Give You Her RAW Files :: Karen Stone Photography

So…’ve interviewed several photographers.  Maybe for your wedding, or just a family photo session.  And you want to know, “Can we have the RAW files?”

Let me take a wild guess…you’ve been met with a frustratingly hard “No…”?

Well, I would love to take a few minutes to explain, and hopefully provide a little understanding of why that is, and why your photographer is not a terrible person.  😉


A little Vocabulary Lesson…

So, when you ask for RAW files, you are also asking for unedited files.  A little education on a few different file types:

  • RAW files – these come in a few different types – could be .raw, .crw, .cr2, .nef, and a whole host of other versions.  Most importantly, this is the largest image file type that can come out of a camera, and it contains the most amount of data from each pixel photographed, uncompressed AND unedited.  
  • TIFF files – these are typically uncompressed files, but typically readable by most computers/softwares (however, not all).  These are great for printing, but honestly, a lot of printers these days don’t even take TIFF files…only JPEGs.
  • JPEG files – these are compressed files, and readable by 99.9% of computers/softwares.  Don’t worry.  Your “high-res” jpeg files are still completely fine for printing!


And did you know that photographers spend more time editing their images than shooting a session?  It’s true!  So, editing is literally half of their work!  It’s part of what adds their style and artistic flare to your images.  If you look through Pinterest, you’ll see several styles of images…”dark and moody”, “light and airy”, and everything in between!  Part of that is how the photographer shoots and chooses their settings (on purpose), but the other part is how they edit.  And in fact…photographers will shoot with a specific editing style in mind!  It alllllll goes together.


Ingredients + Preparation & Cooking = Masterpiece!

Let me explain it this way:  You have found the most FANTASTIC restaurant in Knox Vegas.  Everyone RAVES about this one dish they serve.  You’re having a party at your house, so you ask the chef if he would give you the uncooked ingredients so you could take it home and just do it yourself.  I mean, it will really impress your friends, right?

{UNLIKELY, but…read on…}  You start trying to cook the meal, but you don’t know when to cook the vegetables, or how long…you don’t know when to add the meat tenderizer, and you don’t know a thing about the seasonings and when to apply them so that they “blacken” the meat just right.  {I’m clearly making up stuff that chefs do…I have no idea…I’M NOT THE CHEF!  HA!}

Your friends come over to your party, and most of them have been to that same restaurant, so they’re expecting fireworks in their mouth when they taste this popular dish!

Oops.  They don’t like it, and everyone’s looking at each other, wondering what happened.  You tell them you don’t know what happened – you got everything straight from the chef.  He must’ve “screwed everything up”, or “doesn’t actually know what he’s doing”.  Your friends believe you, and tell all their friends…and now you’ve put a chef out of business.


{CLEARLY, that would never happen…but do you see where I’m going?}


Asking a photographer for the RAW photos is asking them to give you an unfinished piece of art.

Just like the chef, your photographer has spent years working on and perfecting his or her craft.  This is their livelihood.  She has taken into consideration every angle, the way the light falls on her subjects, and posing.  All those things are like the raw ingredients the chef has taken into consideration for your meal.  Your photographer then fine tunes her work by adding her own editing style, correcting the colors just right, doing her own retouching (whether she takes out all the wrinkles, or leaves every single one because she appreciates them), etc.  Those things are the same as how a chef preps and cooks all the ingredients!


If a photo gets re-edited or edited differently than intended, it misrepresents our work…

We also want to protect our business that we’ve worked so hard to build!  When someone wants to edit or have someone else edit our photos, we have no idea how those photos will be represented in the end.


Have you ever been on Instagram and seen someone’s photo, and thought, “They could have picked a much better filter than that!”?


Well, think about when a photographer’s work gets a bad filter slapped on it, and then they are tagged as the photographer in the photo!  Thousands of people may view that photo and will make a split second judgment of that photographer.  Those viewers are all theoretically a photographer’s potential clients.


…and they could assume the photographer is terrible at their job, and probably won’t use them.  Thus, the photographer has lost a potential client.  🙁


Unintentional Insult…

So, when you ask your photographer for the RAW files, you are asking them for the unedited photos.  You may not have intended to, but this is kind of an insult to a photographer.

Since editing plays such a huge part in the style of the photos you see in a photographer’s portfolio, you may be unintentionally telling them you don’t like their portfolio…which leads me to ask…

If you don’t like a photographer’s portfolio, then why are you hiring them?


guarantee most seasoned and established photographers would rather you be honest with them and tell them their editing style is not your cup of tea, than to find out you don’t trust them with what they do best.


I hope that clears up some things for you!  I promise we’re not being selfish or pretentious.  Yes, we take pride and value our work, but we also want to make sure that every client is treated well and given the best possible experience we can give, and that includes the full experience!


Hey photographers!  If you’ve heard this question a lot, it may be time to educate your clients!  Help them understand some of the questions they may have!  🙂  Feel free to share this if you would like! 


And if you would like to book a session, or if you just have questions or comments about this post, I would love to answer them!  Just leave a message below, and we’ll be in touch very shortly!

Blog Post Categories

Thank you so much for stopping by! I am a Knoxville-based photographer, specializing in maternity, newborn, and baby photography. And I love the family photography that I get to do as your family grows! I want to make sure these times in your life are remembered fondly for YEARS to come!


Feel free to browse the blog for session examples, location examples, or even to answer some of your frequently asked questions! And if you don't see what you're looking for, please reach out! I would love to answer any questions you have. I'm so excited to meet you and your little crew, and can't wait to learn about what makes those genuine smiles come to life!



Thank you! You will receive an email from us very shortly! **PLEASE be sure to check spam or promotions folders if you haven't seen anything from us within 24 hours! :)Error submitting form, please try again.


Thank you! You will receive an email from us very shortly! **PLEASE be sure to check spam or promotions folders if you haven't seen anything from us within 24 hours! :)Error submitting form, please try again.

Maternity Photography

Newborn Photography

Baby Photography

Studio Location:
Knoxville/Powell, TN 37849



Knoxville Newborn, Maternity & Baby Photographer

Business Headshots Photographer

Knoxville, TN