Wedding Couple wants RAW images

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by david myles photography, Sep 4, 2008.

  1. I have wedding couple that will not pay the balance they owe until they receive the RAW images of the wedding. I
    usually give the B&G the processed High Res JPG images (which I already did. The groom states he wants to print
    the images larger than 8x10 and thus wants the RAW images. He is an amatuer photographer and I think he wants to
    play around with the files.

    What are your thoughts? Should I charge him a fee? State to him again that I do not give out the RAW images and
    that it is not in the contract.

    Your thoughts and suggestions would be appreciated.
  2. were RAW files in your contract? On what grounds are they refusing to pay?
  3. I think you owe them the RAW files..if they have paid for everthing why not...
  4. I seems improbable that an amateur photographer (of almost any level of skill or interest) would have arranged for the services of a professional photographer... and that this issue didn't come up. Your contract may not say that you'll hand them over, but does it also say that you will not?
  5. My wife and I were your B&G two years ago during our own wedding.

    My advice? Happily give him the RAW with a big smile on your face.

    If he is a photographer and getting married, all his friends are going to ask who the photographer was. What do you want him to say about you?

    1) You are a great photographer who made him (the groom) very happy.
    2) You are holding *his* RAW photos hostage.
  6. My contract states that I will give them high resolution JPG images. This was a destination wedding, they came to NYC so it was only the 3 of us for most of the day. They state along with the prints that are in the contract they want all the RAW images and then will send the balance of the photography payment.

    I am not hugely against sending them the RAW images. I wanted to know if others have encountered this and what your thoughts on it are.
  7. First, fix the hole in your contract. For instance, specify a price for RAW. That will avoid repeating this headache.

    Then, what will you lose if you give them the RAWs ?

    If you lose nothing, well, then give them. A happy customer is always good for business. End of headache.

    Unlike negs you can give your RAWs and still keep them... so it is only a matter of money loss... that's up to you to decide...

    But if they want to make a huge print that means they like your pics. So be nice to them. Their friends will perhaps need a photog sometime in the future.
  8. If your contract says thatthey get JPEGs then that's what they get. However, if it doesn't matter to you either way, then give up the RAWs. I would charge extra since they weren't in the initial agreement.
  9. Do you want to continue doing business with them? You have a contract that they seem to be willing to ignore. That would suggest that any subsequent licensing agreement you reach over use of copies of RAW files may not mean much to them.

    I suppose a note that you would consider discussing licensing additional files and use after they have fulfilled their current contract obligations wouldn't hurt but discuss with your attorney what impact negotiating changes and new business might have on the ability to collect existing obligations or if it might change everything.
  10. I'm confused. How does giving them RAW files make it any easier to print large than giving them the full size high rez Jpegs? Its the same number of pixells right? If your printing at 300 DPI, and you have a 10mp camera, then your pretty much stuck at 9x13 or so (based off my 40D files). To print larger would mean that they would sacrifice DPI. but at what cost? At 250 dpi you could print up to 10.5 x 16 or so. At 200 dpi 13.3 x 20. The math is the same, Jpeg, RAW, Tiff, Jpeg2000, or any other format. A pixel is a pixel. And what printers will print from a RAW file? Maybe you could explain this to them, and reinforce that they are getting full sized Jpegs, and that the RAW files have just as many pixels.

    Unless your contract says that you WILL give them RAW files, I wouldnt. Possibly give a few as a bonus, but giving away your RAW files just seems wrong to me. He wants to try editting on his own, does he have the proper programs to do this? Is his monitor calibrated? Is he going to get it printed at the local drugstore? If the prints come out looking... odd is he going to tell the ones that see it that its because he editted it wrong or is he going to just say 'DM was my photographer, why do you ask'?

    Maybe I'm reading too much into this, but I wouldnt even offer RAW files. And if I were asked for them, I would charge so much that either they would say no thanks or I could buy quite a few lenses with what they paid.

    But those are just my thoughts, feel free to ignore if I'm off base on this one.
  11. I have on rare occasions delivered RAW files to commerical clients as agreed to in the contract, however my preference is to make raw & PS adjustments myself ending with TIFF & JPEG images for my clients and this never has been an issue. Even great photographers need to tweak and adjust their images before they are proud of them.
    If this is not an issue for you than I would give them the raw images with a smile.
  12. If they had made their final payment and asked if they could also please have the RAW files since the groom is a photorapher and wants to play with them I would be inclined to say yes, or at least sell them. But when they come in and try to play the bully and say you're not getting paid unless you hand over something you never contracted for, it gets my back up. If they said they wouldn't make final payment until you threw in a free 16x20 or an extra album, how would you respond? If you want to play nice and give them the RAW files instead of the JPG files or in addition, go ahead. I would be nice to the guy and say you'd be glad to give him the files but first you have to finish off everything that's been agreed to in the contract, including his payment to you. Say as soon as you get the final payment from him you'll be glad to send the RAW files. If you don't get the money first, you still don't have your final payment and have no leverage for getting it.
  13. We always include the RAWs ......less responsibility on the studio > for storage. With the large California fires this year >> we would be glad to have them store the RAWS. Since we do mainly destination coverages >>> a note for the wise ~~~ never have a BALANCE DUE. When they leave the ceremony site get payment in full.
    <p> I for one, do not like the fact they can now alter the contract ....demanding their RAWs or no payment. Although the sales would most likely be small, with only the couple attending the wedding, I still see them holding you hostage. Should you conclude to send the RAWs >> make sure they arrive COD ! In future, draw up a secure contract & full payment at the ceremony required. We still like our package for small weddings :::: shoot film and hand them the unprocessed rolls...
  14. My contract states Hi Res JPG's. Raw files will ont be provided to clients.

    Do you want someone taking your images screwing with them, printing them and people saying EWwwwww. horrible?

    I don't.
  15. I would give them what they want and consider it a lesson learned for future income opportunities. I don't think you have anything to lose. It was only the three of you and more then likely their not going to purchase anything additional from you. Any prints they do make should be the best possible quality and a raw file may be beneficial. They will be showing and giving your work to friends and it would be in your interest to look its best. My only concern would be if they will actually send the balance after getting RAWs. Should have been paid in full before they got the JPEGs, or better yet before shooting the job. Thanks for sharing your experience; it's something that I will consider in the future.
  16. It's up to you and what's important to you David. It appears however as if you've fulfilled your contract and i'll be darn if i'd let a client TELL me what to do before they send in final payment when it is contrary to the contract. That in itself would ruffle my feathers. In which case, i would point out the legalities of the contract and set a deadline for final payment due. If final payment wasn't received, i would follow through with the legalities. Matter of fact, i'm in the process of that now with my first non-paying client. We don't put that verbage in our contract for just a scare tatic; is there to be acted upon. My advice is simple....act upon your contract :)

    People worry too much about the effects of their referral base. My thoughts are....i don't want a non-payment client and the possibility is very hight that i wouldn't want their freinds :)

    As a side note...the attorney that i'll be using is a past wedding client of mine.
  17. "You are holding *his* RAW photos hostage."
    They are NOT his, they are yours. However if your contract is unclear you may have to fork them over. Consider this: There is considerable skill and professional control of the image in the conversion from RAW. You have the right to edit and retouch your work based on hard won knowledge and experience so the client gets the best results. Do you want to turn that, and your reputation, over to a novice? NO! Additionally, I know it's common for B&G's to get a set of Jpegs for sharing and posting and such. That is fine. But high resolution files? Of course he wants the big files to make big prints. For all the years I shot weddings large prints were a MAJOR source of revenue. If your pricing model does not include prints you are cutting yourself off of a primary income stream.

    "Do you want to continue doing business with them?"
    By giving away your RAW files (or negs in film days) you are virtually assured you will not be doing any more business with these clients and without your practiced eye in RAW conversion, retouching and printing (or at least quality controlling the print output) your creative work will not be seen in the best light. Fix your contract, act like a professional that cares about his work and your reputation and bank account will be the better for it.
  18. The RAW files without post processing are probably not going to look too good. I wouldn't want that to represent my
  19. In my opinion, RAW images are an unfinished product and I practically never give them away. All the fixes and adjustments that you make later to get the perfect photos are not in the RAW files and you may get criticized based on your RAW files.

    That said, I shot some tabletops for company ads not so long ago and the graphic artist wanted the RAWs for further tweaking as he worked on the final assembly. I gave them to him but with all the adjustments to exposure and suggested crops included (this can get saved in RAW file (or DNG)). But still, nobody else got to see the RAWs, only the printed ad.

    Regarding the "we'll pay you when we get the RAWs" approach, well that depends on what's in the contract (written or verbal).
  20. The check first and then deliver the raw files, or exchange simultaneously.
  21. You could tell him you only shot large hi-res JPEG.. -jeffl.
  22. I offer hi-res files on disc in my contract it states jpegs. On occasion I've had clients (most are either amateur photogs or graphic designers) ask for RAW files. As long as they're paying for the hi-res it doesn't bother me to give them RAW files. However, prior to RAW file delivery I have them sign the following:

    Transfer of Files Agreement
    In exchange for valuable consideration, XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX hereby
    transfers non-exclusive rights to images made by XXXXXXXXX and other agents of XXXXXXXXXXXXX at the wedding of XXXXXXXX and XXXXXXXXXXX on XXXXXXXXXX to XXXXXXXXXXXXX (client). Both parties agree to the following terms:
    1. Client acknowledges that the copyright to the above referred images remain under the
    ownership of XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX. Client may not transfer copyright to any other person or entity.
    2. Client may reproduce images for personal use only.
    3. In case of delivery of RAW digital photographic files, client acknowledges that the files
    are delivered “as is” and no digital photographic post-processing has been done to the
    files and that the files “as is” may not make the desired quality of reproduction.
    4. Upon acceptance of this agreement, client agrees that XXXXXXXXXXXXXX may choose to no longer archive these files and images from the above referred wedding may no longer be available.
    5. Client agrees that upon acceptance of this agreement, any consideration paid to XXXXXXXXXXXXX is considered non-refundable for any reason.

    To me, #3 and #5 are the most important. This is signed before I hand over a disc.
  23. I've never had anyone ask for RAW (most of my clients don't even know what they are or have the appropriate software to convert them), but you won't lose anything if you charge them a small handling fee for burning the disc. If he's digital-savvy, surely he'll know that it's an easy procedure to just burn them to disc, so I would not charge much. The 15 minutes tops that it might take you is worth something, though.

    This is probably the rare exception, not the rule these days, so burn 'em to disc and hand 'em over.
  24. Burn 'em the disc and send it COD ^^^^^^^^
  25. I'd give them the files. Happy customers make for good marketing.
    I'd also make a habit of not delivering ANY files to customers until the balance is paid in full. that's just
    asking for headaches...
  26. If they want the RAW files, you should give them to them. However, since they are getting images that have not been edited, you should make it clear to them that they are not allowed to selectively use any of your images to make negative publicity against your photography business.

    My wedding photographer kindly gave me all the RAW files even though it was not in the contract. JPEG files are worthless to serious amateur photographers. Information is lost every time you edit or save them.
  27. Even better for you, give them the DNG file version of the images. In that way you can give them the files that you have already edited and that mostly represent your work.
  28. I do not think you should give them the RAW files. Yes it was not specifically clear in your contract that the RAW files are not available, however it was clear that you would give them the JPEG files. If they are so adamant about printing larger, then tell them you will adjust them so that they can do so. I would never give anyone RAW files, its my image and personally I don't really want people messing around with the unedited file, actually I never really show images unless I have done some adjustments to them first. Also I would assume that there are a lot of people who unless they have photography experience don't really know the importance that RAW files offer to a photographer, let alone actually know what RAW means. Therefore I too would assume he is wanting to play with the images in which case I would not be very happy because in my opinion he is then creating his own "art" off of your work.
  29. Hi David,

    It seems that you have plenty of advice on this already, but I'll still add my two cents:

    I have been in your position before. It's not fun. It is important to undertsand WHY they want the RAW images so badly.
    Maybe they think they can get larger prints from them. If that's not the issue, and then your rep is at stake here and I would
    hand them over with a thorough delivery memo (stating the usage).
  30. David -

    I've only had one couple (actually just the groom) ask for a format other than JPG. He wanted tiff due to data loss when saving jpg's. (I didn't mention to him that since the images were on dvd, there'd be no loss anyway, since it's pretty much a Write Once, Read Many storage device.)

    I put that in my contract and haven't had a question since...

    Also - for those that think you can't manipulate a JPG file and that by not giving out the raw files, you're somehow protected from people modifying the image...Wrong! The only thing about raw files is that the software you use to edit / read them has to match the format of the raw file. 99% of the print kiosks at Pro-Ex, CostCo, etc... Won't read / recognize raw format, so even if the client has the raw, they won't be able to edit / print (unless they have specific photo editing software)

    For me the thing that's more important than the file format is that I've gone through the images and gotten rid of the misfires, done the basics - white balance and exposure, perhaps some cropping, then resaved the image... That's what the client gets if they want images.

  31. [[My contract states Hi Res JPG's. Raw files will ont be provided to clients.
    Do you want someone taking your images screwing with them, printing them and people saying EWwwwww. horrible?
    I don't.]]

    I find it difficult to believe that you're not aware people (can) use the JPG files to do the same thing.
  32. There is no reason to hand over RAW files unless your contract specifically says that's what you will provide.
    I've only been asked twice whether I'd be prepared to do this, but both times have refused. I do so on the grounds that conceptually they're equivalent to the negatives (which in the film days very few photographers would ever part with) and that they're subject to my copyright. I do not hand over any property rights to the images I supply. My contract offers the client perpetual rights to reproduce and share the images at no-cost for personal use only. But it's deliberately constructed as a licensing agreement; there is no concept of the client having ownership.
    If the stated problem is that the files you supplied are too small then why not negotiate a list of preferred enlargements, and then supply files to the necessary size? This will demonstrate professionalism and a reasonable willingness to satisfy on your part.
    And if that's not acceptable to them then you need to find out why. Not least because your next recourse is to treat them as a defaulted customer, and you should have evidence that you've taken reasonable measures to understand their position and explain yours.
    Bottom line, I wouldn't allow a client to walk away with the RAW images any more than I'd let them walk away with my camera.</p
  33. The statement that you can not work on JPGs is total hogwash. He can take your full-quality JPGs, save them as PSDs, and manipulate them to his heart's content without losing anything that wasn't already lost originally. They can do everything they want with the JPGs, they do not need the RAWs. It was not in the contract, and they can not refuse to pay you over this. Tell them they need to fulfill their part of the contract before you have any further discussions about delivering additional product. DNGs similarly aren't on the table simply because of the extra time it would take to do the exports and get them packaged for transport.

    To those saying "just give it to them", would you work an extra 12 hours at a wedding simply because the client wanted you to? Would "give me 12 extra 8x10's or I won't pay you" be an acceptable thing to you?

    This boils down to one thing. The other party is attempting to breach the contract and not pay you as per your agreement. Stop any and all deliveries of any additional contracted product you may still have until they have fulfilled their end of the bargain. This kind of behavior on the side of the client is simply not acceptable or legal, and pandering to it by giving in and agreeing to their terms is not going to be good for you in the end - you may never be paid. If they're willing to hold your payment hostage for more services and you give in, what's to stop them from demanding something else?

    This is a no brainer folks.
  34. Josh - your contract makes sense. I think anyone giving RAW files should take a look at Josh Laronge's response above.
  35. "You have the right to edit and retouch your work based on hard won knowledge and experience so the client gets the best results. Do you want to turn that, and your reputation, over to a novice? NO!"

    I tend to agree.

    Maybe I am way off base, but back in the day, was it common for negatives to be handed over?

    Also, if the contract does not specifically say that RAW files are to be given to the customer, I don't see how this can be used as leverage against full payment.

    Does the contract SPECIFICALLY say that the B&G are not entitled to the camera and memory cards? Surely you won't be offering these too?

    If you supplied what was specifically mentioned in the agreement, then you should be getting FULL payment. If you want to hand over the RAW files, that's your business.
  36. "Maybe I am way off base, but back in the day, was it common for negatives to be handed over? "

    Wasn't it? I thought it was fairly standard practice. I received all of my negatives, 60 odd frames of 6x7 and a few 4x5. I'm sure the thinking was that a couple of referrals was worth much more than the remote possibility of a few more print sales.

    Frankly, what could the average customer do with a handful of MF and LF negatives (or RAW these days) anyways.
  37. "Frankly, what could the average customer do with a handful of MF and LF negatives (or RAW these days) anyways."

    I couldn't do anything with negatives, but plenty with RAW.

    Somehow, unless signed over in the contract, doesn't a photographer have a right to retain the definitive "original", giving full size "final product" JPEGs that the photographer feels represent their best?
  38. Give them Tiff files and charge them - a lot. He's killing your reorders so figure in what the reorders are worth. $1000 seems like the minimun fee to me.

    The reason for tiff files instead of RAW is he may not be able to open the RAW files. For example, with the 1DS Mark 3 you really need Photoshop CS3. CS2 won't open the RAW files. Actually CS2 will, but you need to open as a digital negative file.
  39. This jerk is holding your money hostage hopping to renegotiate the terms of your contract. You have three choices, try to get him to back down and pay you, give him what he wants, or seek a legal remedy. I would remind him that he contracted to buy jpgs. If he wants to "upgrade" to raw files then it will cost him an additional $$$, and that you will mail them once his balance has been paid in full including the additional "raw upgrade" fee. If he declines, seek a legal remedy.
  40. I wonder if the client really wants the RAW or needs to wiggle out of paying the balance. Not to rub salt but don't most of us
    get payment in full before the wedding. Perhaps a entirely different discussion thread. After reading this I am going to amend my contract.
  41. You've already got plenty of opinions of what others think so I won't add mine. However, I would suggest though that there might be a potential "trap" in all this.

    Let's suppose you hand over all the RAW files and wait for the check.....your next reply could be something along the lines of: "Thank you for the RAW files but I'm sure that there are several images missing.....please forward all of the RAW files and I'll send you the balance."

    BTW, even if you didn't edit and you were to send every single file you took, it's likely that in the customer's mind that he might still accuse of holding back. Be careful, be very careful.
  42. I agree with David Schilling. Thery may not pay you once they receive the images. Also, I only give hi res JPEGS as I only want my best, edited work out in the public. My clients will NEVER see the images that don't make the cut.
  43. David:

    You've already received quite a few responses to your question. So I'm going to throw in some
    unsolicited advice. I would change when I collect payment if I were you. My final payment is due 30
    days before the wedding. That still gives me time to collect the final payment if anything unforeseen

    At a minimum, I would not turn over any images before payment is received in full. I would probably
    insist on a money order at this point. Or waiting a few weeks after the check clears. I would be
    hesitant to accept a credit card payment based on your side of the events.

  44. This is the kind of thing that happens when you let a client have or even see images before they pay the ENTIRE bill. You are in a game of chicken now with someone who has the money AND usable images. You can play your hand in small claims court but it would suck for many reasons even if you win.

    Plug the holes in the contract for future use. Namely, the payment scheme and what the client will actually be entitled to.
  45. Trade the money for the Raws, it not worth a fight over and your at the disadvantage right now. Which would you rather have, some RAW files of someone else's wedding who will never ever do business with you again, or your money and a good reputation for being a generous person and a good wedding photographer.
  46. Don't give em your RAW files! You dont know what they are going to do with them.......
  47. In the "old days" people wanted negatives. The new, inexperienced photographer would give them to the B&G because they'd never land a gig otherwise. The same is true nowadays for the novice pro, with digital files, be they JGP or RAW. In a perfect world there would be no negatives or files handed over. At least not within the reasonable reprint-buying time of say, five years.

    It really doesn't matter what you do. If you give them the files you add to the demand for giving such files away, and if you don't, you anger this couple and might lose payment. There is a loss here either way.

    Not that it matters, but I'd tell them (politely) that the contract does not call for RAW files but the RAW files may be purchased once the initial obligation (payment) is met. Make note that the RAW files are not in any way necessary to make large prints, and that the JPG files are of the same resolution.
  48. "Don't give em your RAW files! You dont know what they are going to do with them......."

    As though they can't "do" things with the the files they already have.
  49. I haven't read any of this except your initial post, but if it were me, I'd just give the guy his RAW files and collect the check.
    Make your client happy, collect your payment....
    what's the issue here?
    Hey, I've had clients print my RAW files too, without knowing what they're doing. They wind up with these huge 40x60"
    prints with dust spots and bad color balance. But they're totally thrilled, and I got paid. Fine by me. Making my clients
    happy is the main thing.
  50. I think the RAW image debate stems from the old days when the photographers would give you prints but not the negatives, so you'd be forced to go back to them for reprints for the rest of your natural life, and in the case of some wedding photographers, they charge thousands for the shoot and then thousands again for reprints. It's a good racket for them, but IMHO I think it's a scam.

    I also think your client could lighten up a bit since the JPG files aren't any worse in resolution relative to RAW or anything. That said, if it were me and since I can edit the exposure and color balance with more latitude in RAW, I'd probably want them as well.

    As for your specific problem, if it were me I'd tell them you hadn't intended to include RAW images initially but you'd give them the benefit of the doubt this time. Frankly, this time it was your fault since you never covered it with enough specifics in the contract about format, resolution, etc. In that case, its a good business practice to give the client the benefit of the doubt but also to make sure you don't run in to the problem next time... so fix your contract.

    If you give him the RAW images and he doesn't pay, you have a ligit legal case against him. If you don't fork them over, he might not be able to force you to give them up, but then you'd have one unhappy camper for a customer with a potentially valid beef with you. Word of mouth means a lot in wedding photography.
  51. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    On matters peripheral to the main question:

    I would like to reiterate and add to the comments of David S and John H (I had similar thoughts):

    1. Be Careful:

    I`d require payment at exchange or beforehand, and I am not too keen on a cheque.

    2. I think you need to revisit your payment structure:

    I, like you, have (mostly always) employed a final payment upon completion and delivery of all goods and services. That is not the issue IMO.

    What is in debate is how much is left owing. At present, our structure, has the last payment being only 10% of the total, i.e. 90% is paid BEFORE the Wedding Date: (that might be in 2 or 3 stages).

  52. David,

    Your troublesome client is doing you a favor. He hasn't paid in full yet, but has all the photographs in high res jpeg. Now that he wants the
    RAW files, you can just explain that it's a very unusual request, but that you'd be happy to provide them so that he can fully enjoy his
    wedding photographs in his own way. Explain that you'll burn a disc for him this week and mail it out upon receipt of the full payment that
    he's contracted for. When the check clears, mail the dvd and I nice note wishing the bride and groom many years of happiness.

    At least you'll have your money, and maybe a happy client.
  53. Maybe you should give them camera too if they ask for it... after all, you used it to make the photos, and your contract doesnt clearly state you dont provide the camera when you're done. I'm being snarky, but do we really have to say what is NOT included? a RAW file is a tool used to create a finished image, its not the finished product itself. So I would lump it together with all other tools needed to create a final product. You dont get my camera, computer, copies of my software, or RAW files. You get the end product. American consumers are somthin else.

    Personally, I like the answer "I shoot in JPEG, sorry"
  54. "It's a good racket for them, but IMHO I think it's a scam".
    That "racket" consists of a very large consortium of hard working professionals that make their living from the sale of their photographic work. Most are extremely creative individuals with astute business skills. If you think getting paid well for your creative efforts is a "scam" that is fine and you are free to hire any of the mass of hacks, novices, and duffers who would be more than happy to blast several thousand digital images for you and turn over the whole mess to you for a few hundred dollars. They would jump at the chance. Incidentally, there were plenty of them around in the "old" days as well.
  55. 1. Never underestimate the value of a happy client. <br>
    2. There's a reason for the uncomplicated business principle that the client is always right, even if he isn't.<br>
    3. He already has the high rez jpg files, so if he is indeed skilled at photoshop then those RAW files are not so
    important to him. I'm not sure if he knows that, and I suspect he may not be so skilled. If he isn't, he will admire you
    even more for what you were able to get out of the unmodified images. <br>
    4. There's a pretty good chance that he doesn't even have the dng converting software to open your RAW files. So,
    you are effectively giving him something he doesn't need and won't necessarily be able to use.<br>
    5. Those RAW files are not very useful for you, but they evidently mean a lot to him, more than they are worth. If you
    don't give them to him, his wedding photos will be a longlasting symbol of an angry conflict he once had with a
    photographer. You will look so much better if this is worked out to your client's satisfaction.<br><br>

    With the above points in mind, I agree with those above who say, be sure you are paid before you give up anything
    more, let him know you are doing something more for him than you would a normal client. Do it with a friendly smile
    and thank him for the business. He will pay you back in spades, in the most important arena, behind your
    back.Winners have a way of turning conflicts into winning resolutions.
  56. I agree with William W on the payment. Give some time for the check to clear. Require to get the payment a week or days before you hand your photos in that way they can't cancel the check after they received it.

    Since you mentioned that you agreed to give them the raw files, then I think you should.
  57. Folks,

    Unless David Myles has omitted some key facts, this is a simple case of EXTORTION! According to David, he was
    only obligated to furnish to his clients high resolution jpegs which he said that he did. Therefore he had lived up to his
    end of the contract. Now the couple needs to live up to theirs and PAY HIM IN FULL.

    David, don't let that couple walk over you. Remind them politely that the contract specified ONLY high resolution JPEG
    files and that you expect them to fulfill their end of the contract by giving you the final payment.

    Now, if you don't have a problem with sending them your RAW files after receiving the final payment for the wedding, you
    can inform them that AFTER you received the last payment for the wedding that you would be willing to send them the
    RAW files for a nominal charge. But first, they must fulfill the terms of the original contract.

    A deal is a deal and if the couple cannot be trusted to fulfill the terms of the first one, don't expect them to fulfill the terms of
    any subsequent contracts.

    If they still refuse to pay, do what's necessary to collect the debt that they owe you.
  58. David, Earlier when film was only the medium for shooting, photographers used to give all the negatives of the wedding or other occassion shoots to clients so whats wrong here. So the same should be here, even without asked by the clients, If we think through client's point of view.

    Can you guarantee to keep safe those RAWs for lifetime...? You can feel free by giving all the RAWs to your clients, which require so much storage.
  59. Film was completely different. People didn't have a full color lab in their house ... it had to go to someone that knew what
    they were doing to process and print the images.

    RAW files can be viewed and processed by anyone with a computer and cheap printer ... whether they are skilled at it or

    Bad processing by an amateur can impact the perception of the original photographer's work. Processing is a part of the
    creative process exercised by the photographer and a key aspect of their vision.
  60. Really, how much harm against you or monetary gain will they get from those files?

    Just hand them the files and get over it ;)
  61. David there are a few aspects here.

    Firstly your client and yourself have a legally binding agreement to provide a service. You need to tactfully remind them of that fact. Should they fail to pay (check with a Lawyer, I'm not up on US civil/contract law) you are entitiled to persue them for the money due plus costs. A letter from a lawyer stating this may bring them to thier senses should the matter become protracted. The RAW's can be used as a Carrot but certainly do not hand them over until you have your cash!

    The RAW files, given they are not mentioned in your contract (right??) they do not form part of the bargain you made, ergo these can be included as an amendment to the contract, it is up to you if you wish to do this and if you wish to charge.

    Personally and I think this echos several respondants to your thread, you need to retain control of your artistic output. Were I in the position of building up a business with Wedding photos as a part of the workflow, I would be looking to limit any chances of the business earning a negative reputation. That said the client could still with even the most basic of editing software make a complete hash out of the Hi res Jpegs so is there an issue in giving over the RAW files too.

    To protect yourself in the future ensure you establish a price for the RAW's in advance or Limit thier availability in the contract, i.e. RAW files and copyright of all images remain the property of 'David Myles' also ensure a model release forms part of the contract.
    If you can any output should always be prints only, they have to come to you for more, unless you establish a price for compressed file formats on top. You may want to look at your pricing structure to stimulate repeat business from your clients, it is a very fine balancing act.

    Wedding images have a finite life so it's down to you if you can be bothered with trying to get (limited) repeat business or focus on turn over of Big days!

    Payment, the majority of Photographers I have encountered here, take a booking fee (10-25% non-refundable) depending on the package to be delivered with final payment due the week before the wedding. Most also offer a satisfaction guarantee though personally I think this leaves you open to abuse...if you have the confidence in your work go for it...but you'll get the odd chancer who trys it on.

    Hope it works out Bud and good luck with your future shoots!

    Personally I try and avoid commercial work, done some and it bugged my happyness no end, it kept me in film and beer through college but it would have been heaven without the clients!

    To close, I'm currently looking for a photographer for my Fiance and my own weddingnext summer, knowing several photographers I'm stuck between keeping friends happy and getting the best images we can aford without other photographers feeling put down...can here it now...why did you not ask me..are my images not good enough? And as an amature I'd never dream of asking a Pro/Career Photog for RAWs so I could play...I have enough images of my own to keep me busy!

    If you client is wanting to play I suggest you give him a very select few RAW's and run (once you have the balance owing...)he has too much time on his hands...
  62. Has anyone ever used Genuine Fractals software? (I have not) If the groom's main reason for wanting RAW files is to make
    enlargements not possible with JPEGs, this might be a solution. He would be able to enlarge the JPEGs and you would be
    able to keep the RAW files.
  63. Marc Williams, David has already given the processed JPEGs, and now those are more easy to print with a computer-printer setup than RAWs, and you also say : "Bad processing by an amateur can impact the perception of the original photographer's work. Processing is a part of the creative process exercised by the photographer and a key aspect of their vision.", than RAWs are also behaving somwhat films and not easy for everyone to process.
  64. 1. If the RAW files are not in the contract do not give them up.

    2. You are probably at the point now where they would not refer their friends to you anyway. If you do give them the RAW files, then their friends that a referred to you might expect the same treatment. Stand firm.

    3. If you provided them the files they needed and they refuse to pay I would begin the legal process of getting your money. Usually, they have to pay all fees. RAW files are not the end product.

    Example: If you went down and bought a painting from a good artist, you could not demand the initial sketches and process sketches of the painting and refuse to finish paying for the painting because of it. You might do this because "Hey, I know how to paint too. Maybe if I had his sketches I could repaint it exactly like he did.

    Don't lower your profession or yourself. You do not have to give them the RAW files and you will win in court (they get to pay your fees too if you win) unless the RAW files are in the contract. As long as you provided the standard in digital images (the .jpgs) that should be all you do. Do not give up the RAW files.

    I would begin by just saying that you will not give them the RAW files. Also, I would send an additional written letter stating that they must cease the use of your wedding pictures and destroy them unless you receive your money. You own the copyrights to your images and if they default on the contract, it is illegal for them to display them, print them or anything. Or, you can just go after the money. You might want to look at the process on this. You might not need a lawyer to start the process.

    Okay. I don't want to sound like a bad guy because I have only had to resort to beginning this process once for only $100. Since that time, I expect to be paid in full before my shutter even opens. I have never done a wedding, but I do events, portraits and sports (for little league and stuff). I have had trouble with them but when you state that the copyright to those images is yours and that they legally cannot display them or even have copies of them (unless they paid you). I don't even like to give digital files and it is in my contract that digital files are 72dpi screen resolution images.

    Sorry if I come off like a prude or an a$@hole but we have a profession and an art to protect and contracts protect them. So, kindly refuse to give them the RAW images. Explain why. Then if they refuse to pay, politely ask them to no longer use the images because they did not fulfill their end of the contract. I don't know if they can display them on the mantle but they can no longer display them online and it is pretty easy to shut their site down for displaying copyrighted materials. This is about a wedding, a wonderful time and it is sad that sometimes it comes to you saying no, you cannot have my product for free.

    Now, you can give them the RAW files after the initial contract has been settled by drafting a new contract for the RAW files.
  65. Haven't read the entire thread but agree with those that say settle the contract first then negotiate the RAW files.

    I simply don't understand the argument that somehow giving the RAW files will result in bad publicity if the editing doesn't turn out good. They already have the high res JPG's. If they wanted to mangle your photographs, not having the RAW files isn't going to stop them from doing so. Since the groom is a photographer himself, if anything he will be able to get a better final result for what he wants from the RAW than with the JPG's (which is why he want's the RAW files). So if anything the end result will most likely be worse looking photographs if he doesn't have the RAW files.
  66. Well, the assumption is that the jpgs have been processed the way the photographer wants his images to look ... which are not necessarily what the RAW files
    look like.

    So, the question is ... does the photographer want the client to see how the sauage is made? That depends on one's approach to their work. IMO,
    editing/processing is 50% of the creative task ... cropping, straightening, contrast/levels, saturation. B&W conversions, application of actions, and so on ... is all
    part of the magic. It's easy to see that many shooters work this way ... I seriously doubt many of the top wedding shooters work looks like it does straight out of
    the camera.

    Yes, the client could well work on the jpgs and do all sorts of things to them ... so that point is well taken ... but at least it isn't the RAW, unvarnished shots.
  67. Didn't read all the responses, but I like Robert Wheater's recommendations. A contract is a contract - in my line of work if you start doing out of scope items you're working for free. Lesson learned, be wary if shooting another wedding if bride or groom are photographer.
  68. Keith, and OP, the negative archival thing had several areas.

    First, almost no one would ever place an order after the first order, but I used to have a schedule of prices for
    packages, and I would very often book a wedding for a modest package, and being so wonderful as I am, my work
    would more than likely encourage them to upgrade to higher packages, plus prints ordered with the original package
    were discounted, well, anything making me look through negatives, drive to the lab, etc. was significantly higher. If I
    gave up the negatives, I would have had to restructure my prices and possibly lose business.

    Weddings in general were much lower cost when I was shooting MF at a wedding, today it seems $25K is a budget
    affair, so $3K is in the ball park for photos. Last MF film wedding package was a gift to a friend in Paris, without
    hotel and gas, (service was in the Loire), my cost was $600, ($1 was higher than a Euro) plus incidentals.

    Second, after getting burned, I always collected the full original package price, ASAP. Normally with delivery of
    previews. I would think today the bill would be due at the very latest with delivery of any photos or disk.

    Third, I shot MF and processing was done by a pro lab, with hand retouching when needed, not CVS, and I did not
    want prints that were poorly processed representing my work.

    Fourth, Times have changed, and people can scan anything, and do almost anything to your work.

    Fifth, People generally pay almost nothing to a GWC who downloads his images and burns a disk at the reception,
    or a lot of money for wedding photos, easily running in to thousands of dollars. Many photos will be distributed and
    only viewed on a screen.

    And Probably most important today,

    While this is a lively discussion,

    Choose your battles, this one is not worth fighting, as the money was not collected with delivery of the work, there is
    really no winning strategy other than giving them what they want. I would include a copyright notice burned on the

    And in future either fix the contract, or tell them you have the right to edit anything you shoot or do not tell them, and
    look for warning flags -----if they ask if you shoot raw, explore the real situation and concerns. I would delete shots
    that caught people looking bad, have any wardrobe malfunctions, or are technically poor. On a good day, it should
    not be too many, but over the years I remember the camera somehow making some poor images, especially the
    service person in the back ground bending over ladies falling out ------ waste basket time. (I know, now you can fix it,
    but do you want the original file displayed?)

    If you have objections to what they want, have your reasons ready.

    You are not going to have the total control of your work without a great deal of effort, which is at least one reason
    why you charge more these days, and word of mouth is everything.

    Regards, John
  69. It amazes me how some do business.

    The conflict here is a client not paying and demanding things contrary to the contract. There are many here that feels as if a client can demand this request and see it as being perfectly fine. Ok, fine with me for you to feel that way. However, in doing so, you are not in control of your business and i would say that your ability to grow a succesful buisness will be time limited. Your choice.

    On the other hand, you have the option of being in control of your work, reptutation, business, and you will be able in substain your buisness growth through good principles and a little common sense. Letting clients tell you what to do through demands contrary to a legal contract is a very fragile buisness foundation. I see photographers in this industry with awsome talent but lacking business sense. They will never be able to break through by gaining enough pride and self respect to stand firm in situations like this.

    Bottom line is.....are you running your business or are you letting clients run it for you? Which one of these two do you think will grow your business to the next financial level?
  70. Wow! Always a huge topic with huge responses. I cant say or offer anything other than whats been said. I do learn
    everytime I read these though. I always learn what "Not" to do and hwo to handle these situations and what "Could"
    happen. Its helped me alot in the past.

    I learned something else today. I always thought I was an odd one for never wanting anyone to see my RAW
    images. I thought I was the only one who felt this way and it was because I was a sh$*#y photographer. Now I see
    that its all Pro's. I always felt like post production in PS was different from photography and that if I was any kind of
    photog, I could get it right in camera and it wouldnt matter if someone viewed my RAW's.

    Quite comforting actually. Looking at it entirley different now. The RAWS are great untouched, but I am slightly
    tweaking to perfection. As I remember back in 98 when I got back my prints from my wedding(from film). I remember
    looking through them and going, "Oh thats good, thats good, thats good, ooh not so good, washed out, too dark,
    awesome shot, thats the best one yet etc. He basically unloaded his memory cards, clicked print and thats what I
    got. With these RAWS, we are making every image an "Awesome Shot". All of the customers prints are perfect
    leaving him feeling he got his money worth. Not bad photography, optimized business. BMW 3 series vs Chevy
    Cobalt. Both do the job, but one optimized for flawlessness. Is that a word? :)

    I feel great now. I'm glad I read this. I've now answered a question I've always had. Am I the only one who does this.
    Now that I think of it, it may be what he wants to do. Look at RAWS to compare his work. Maybe see how much
    post you did. I still wouldnt give them up. TIFFS are just as good and the Jpegs will print no different at larger sizes.
    Except 99% of printers wont read RAW.

    I once printed a shot of an Eagle 16x20. I realized it was a compressed
    version of a JPEG that I had done on accident and never deleted. It was 1.1MB and I paniced and reprinted the
    16x20 with the 52MB TIFF I originally intented to use. They came out and none of us could tell which was the TIFF.
    The printer had to look at his job number and look at the back to see which was which. As long as the Res. is the
    same, it doesnt matter. At least none of us could tell without a magnifying glass.

    I got home, pulled both up on monitor at 100% and switched quickly between them. You couldnt even tell I was
    changing the files. I mean nothing. And I use a 24" HD monitor set to 1920x1200. The TIFFS to me are only usefull
    while editing. Otherwise, finished JPEGS are just as good.
  71. In the past, wedding photographers made money by charging for prints. No one gave out the original film. If
    you've already given him the full-resolution JPEG files, you've forfeited the ability to stop him from making his
    own high-quality prints. If that's the case, there's no good reason to deprive him of the RAW files. If he wants
    to control the sharpening parameters for larger prints, let him. An amateur is perfectly
    capable of adjusting the sliders in ACR, and if he screws it up, that's his business. He could make a JPEG file
    look just as bad.

    By holding back, you look petty, and you'll look even more petty if you try to tack on charges that extend
    farther than the cost of burning a disk. Give up the RAW files as an act of good faith. If you want to charge for
    them with future clients, add a contract provision to that effect.
  72. I wouldn't give them the RAW files if the contract clearly states hi-res JPEGs. Hi-res JPEGs can be printed in
    large format and I know having a RAW image may not help him much. It's a lose-lose for you since he's could run
    your name in the mud because your holding the files and even if you give them up he could still bad mouth you.
    To get him off your back I'd give him he files, wipe my hands clean of him and add a "No RAW images." clause to
    your contract.

    I hope this works out for you,
  73. This mostly depends on the terms in the contract. If you use standard contracts, then you are the owner of the images. You are not required to provide the RAW images. As a matter of fact, he would be in violation of the copyright law to make additional copies or edit your work without your explicit permission. By him hiring you, you agreed to provide a certain amount of images but even then, he is not allowed to make additional copies or edit the ones he paid for. If he wants an enlargement or to make edits, he needs to come to you and tell you what he wants and you perform the work for a fee and provide him a print. Giving him the RAW images could negate your copyright claims in the future. The old edict, "He that owns the negatives, owns the copyright." can be modified to say, "He that owns the RAW images, owns the copyright." Do not give them up. You are surrendering more that you realize.
  74. Never. Never. Never give away your negatives. No photographer worth his salt would do such a thing. I have refused to do shoots for clients demanding the negatives. My work. Not theirs. RAW files are digital negatives.

    Put it in writing but do not give your work away unless you are going to do it for everyone and you can then expect everyone to want it for free.
  75. My 2 cents (and sorry if this was already mentioned) but I always consider the RAW files as the equivalent of negatives in that they prove that the photos are mine. I know that Raw files come with embeded info but I am sure that there are programs to change that. So, unless they contracted for and paid for FULL OWNERSHIP of the photos I never give out the RAW files. As far as having a happy customer, I would never consider a @#% that would not honor a contract as some one that I want to keep happy. I like the idea of sending a CD COD and just have tif files in it and tell him that he got more than he contracted for.
  76. It's a very interesting case. First I don't know how you come to the situation of shooting a wedding, especially a destination wedding
    before being paid in full.

    In my contract I require a deposit of 30% for the booking and the balance to be paid 3 weeks before the actual wedding day.
    As there are more and more people with camera and software, I keep think simple and try to be open minded as much as possible.
    I had a groom once who asked for the Raw files, of course it was before the shooting. I told him that I usually give edited hi-res JPEG,
    which, as mentioned by most people here, but if he still wants RAW files, they are available for purchase at $950 per file. I'll be happy to
    sit with him and slide show the files for him to choose.

    In regard of proving that the images are mine, I simply set my name, and the studio, in camera so it is embedded in the RAW files. This
    is not a really big deal (to prove that I am the owner of the images) as I can prove that I have the RAW files as well, and also that the
    serial number of the cameras is also embedded in the RAW files and I have the receipt proving that I own that cameras.
  77. Walton, we sometimes make exceptions, which become lessons.

    I gave prints to a performer, with whom I had a few drinks and conversations, met the wife and kids, and he truly was a great guy. He tragically died young, and I found out a few years ago I have now done an album cover, which does not have my name on it. Am I going to sue his widow or the record company, well, no, I sent them a note asking for credit, but hey, I gave him the print, and the proceeds go to his family.

    Maybe his manager forgot my name.

    I chose not to fight this battle, but I understand why people put their name on everything.

    Rodney Dangerfield would have appreciated the situation.

    I hear there are planned new laws further eroding copyright ownership, but with the ease of newer scanning technology, am not sure you are going to easily hold many copyright cards in event photography, that can be played.

    Printers should, I believe, technically, refuse to print files from a wedding without a copyright release?
    Have no idea why a major record label would use a photograph with no release.

    I have briefly looked at the data on RAW files, but have no idea if you can program your camera to add a copyright notice to the data, being the old guy on the block. Only digital wedding I did was scanned Tiff files from the negatives at processing.

    That may change when I hear what is available in newest equipment this fall, but I do not think I want to shoot a wedding with an M8, it took me a long time to let go of MF for wedding photography. ;-)

    Regards, John
  78. It is interesting to see the amount of folks who would willingly give up the RAW files despite a contract to the contrary.

    It's just bad business done for the sake of convenience.

    It's also just another indicator of photographers rights being eroded ... and the slope being made slipperier by laziness and apathy.

    "It's no big deal" ... "give it up and get over it." "Who cares, it's just photography."

    The work becomes more and more of a commodity when even the people who do the work don't seem to care, and think little of what they

    The less special it becomes, the less valuable it becomes.
  79. I got worn out reading responses, so forgive me if this was said, but I would tell them that you are not in principle opposed to providing them, but that that is a discussion that can only take place once the contracted transaction has been completed. You have performed per the contract, and now it's their turn to perform per the contract, i.e., pay up.

    If you're ok giving the RAWs for free, then commit to doing so once they have paid the contract amount. I'd even put it in writing. If you're not, try to find some examples of pricing that they can independently verify (and maybe even point them to the information) and stipulate you will provide them at that price, and haggle over payment terms (e.g., 50% up front if you still don't trust them).

    If they hold fast and say they won't pay until they actually have the files, then that just shows you'll never see the money either way. If you worry about damage reputation from people who violate your contract, you'll spend your whole life worrying. People that behave like that end up not being associated with or being listened to people by people who behave properly, so you won't really end up losing anything even if they try to trash you.

    Good luck.
  80. Louis, the "scam" part doesn't implicate photographers who shoot weddings (not lock stock and barrel anyway), so for the record I'd like to restate that there are some who appear to take advantage of the clients by promising a low fee with a terrible print package bundled in, but then overcharge for reprints or enlargements (or whatever else they ask for) that seems extremely unfair. My sister had such a photographer shoot her wedding and a $3000 bill turned into them requesting another $1500 for a few more prints than their package included, which was really really overpriced. The pros who shot my wedding charged a lot but the package included a very reasonable set of images printed, and then negatives delivered at the same time.

    It sounds like you're not one of the people who rip off clients so its not directed at you. But there are lots who aren't as fair as others and for them I stand by my statement that it's a scam.
  81. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    And my view on the philosophy of it, with respect to Wedding Photography:

    I do not sell negatives from a Wedding.

    As to other Wedding Photographers choosing to give away or sell the RAW files: when I started, there were those
    who shot a Wedding for $99 and that included all the negatives. Now I am NOT implying that anyone who supplies
    RAW files is a bargain basement photographer . . . this conversation has moved way beyond the original question:

    I am commenting upon the general practice of selling / giving the (digital) negatives, and also commenting, it is my
    opinion that many of the Bargain Basement and / or Rip and Burn Photographers have this practice . . . and I am
    saying that there were those who did that way back . . . and predominately they were also in the bargain basement

    In business, there is Reality and there is the Perception of Reality. And mostly the potential client categorises,
    (rightly or wrongly) when they are choosing product or service.

    Let`s look at this another way: Judging from many of the posts on this website, there are those who refer to
    themselves as ``Wedding Photographers`` and, from the work posted and the questions asked, they do not know
    how to flash fill or what DoF is, and how an aperture change might affect both.

    So moving out to the bigger fish bowl of Potential Clients (the General Public), we will always have the Advanced
    Amateur Groom, (or Bride), who has a wiz-bang 68microwatt camera and is has an A++ rating in Picasa. He (or she)
    will know heaps more than the Pro, and basically initially resents the fact that money has to be paid to a pro, in the
    first place.

    So to placate that, he wants that ``little bit more than everyone else gets``, so she can get that ``something for
    nothing`` . . . in the case of Wedding Photography, it might be the negs to print as many prints as he likes, for next
    to nothing in cost or, it might be just to stroke the ego and to play for hours on the computer.

    Is there harm in that? IMO: No.

    Am I in the business of having that type of customer? No.

    IMO, if it is in the Business`s Strategy to be: Particular, Elite and Special, and to command prices (not necessarily
    higher) and to attract a certain TYPE of client, because (some of) the differentiators are: Quality; Identity and
    Uniqueness, then it will really be a more difficult battle, firstly even win the client in the first instance; and secondly to
    command any higher prices, or to wear the mantle of elite, or artwork, if the ``negatives`` are part of the deal. I am not
    saying it is impossible, I am just
    saying IMO it is very much more difficult.

    Did the practice of selling all the negs for $99 erode Photographer`s rights 30 years ago? I do not think so.

    But, do I agree with the philosophy of Marc Williams when he wrote: if the work becomes less special and more of a
    commodity the work becomes less valuable: and, by inference the less that can be charged for it, and also it is
    perceived to be the ``norm`` for sale.

    And I also agree with his implication, (I assume), that some of that ``devaluation`` latches onto the whole profession.

    But I still think that there are many, many clients who realize, or are open enough to be shown, that devaluation and
    norm shifts might be peculiar to specific sectors or types of businesses, and that those businesses might not be the
    most suitable to Photograph their Wedding: even if that is only a perception and not reality, many prospects still
    make decisions upon initial categorizations / impressions.

    The bottom line is, IMO: The more Businesses which cluster or are identified with the norm and any subsequent
    devaluation in the norm, the easier it is in depressed times to make a living, if one`s business is not in those sectors.

  82. I don't see what you have to lose to be honest, the price of a blank dvd and a little time to copy the files over. I would not find this to be an issue. Anything for an easy life.

  83. don't see what you have to lose to be honest, the price of a blank dvd and a little time to copy the files over. I would not find this to be an issue. Anything for an easy life.
    And that is a perfect way to sum up what's wrong with wedding photography today. Plenty of people have cameras. Few know how to use them. Fewer still have have any inherent respect for themselves and their clients.
  84. I keep hearing that by giving away or selling RAW Images you're in effect parting with the digital "negative".

    IMO - Nothing could be further from the truth.


    1. For the uninitiated to film (yes, there are some) the negative was a one of a kind, unique piece of celluloid. Yes, I could have a copy of it made, but chances are, unless I had a pro lab setup at home (and not many of us did) it would be an expensive process to have a lab make copies of our negatives. Digital Raw: It takes me no more or less time relatively speaking to burn a raw file to cd then it does a high quality JPEG.

    2. A good PhotoShop user can do as much damage or good to a high res jpeg file as they can to a raw file. For the uninformed in CS3 / Elements 6.0 you can do an "Open As" on a JPEG and get the same window as if you had opened a raw image. What do you lose in the translation? A few bits of data, perhaps some range, and exposure lattatude, but for most it's really not going to matter.

    3. What about those who don't shoot in "RAW" in the first place? Yes, I know, I'm borderline hearsay here, but there are quite a few shooters, who for whatever reason shoot everything in JPEG (even in JPEG Normal - GASP!). So, what about them? Are they giving up their "Digital Negative" since the only file they have is a JPEG?

    4. Everyone here is making an assumption that RAW means "unprocessed", as is out of the camera. Last time I checked, I could open a RAW image in PS and edit it to my little heart's content, and then save it as a "RAW". What's to stop someone from doing this? By giving RAW in this case, are they still giving up their digital negatives?

    5. Somehow by giving up the RAW file as opposed to a high quality JPEG you're making photography a commodity and cheapening it? Please, folks.... Giving up or selling any image in any format other than print would put you into this category for reasons 1-4. There have been many threads here about the practice of selling or including digital image files of weddings at all. Bottom line is that when you give over ANY digital file, in any format, you lose all control over it.

    The bottom line is that giving up digital files is a business decision. Some customers want the digital images, some could care less about them. Some want prints, others want digital to be able to share quickly, easily and economically with their families and friends.

    Personally - I include a copy of the JPEG (hi-res) in my wedding package. As stated earlier in this thread, if a couple asks I will give them TIF. (the word JPEG is in my contract). I haven't yet had a couple ask for RAW. I also inform couples upfront why a print from me costs what it does. It costs more than going to the neighborhood store, since I color correct, crop, edit, etc... each print. The extra cost to them is time that they would have to spend doing this, if they wanted pro-quality prints.

  85. Never mind all the contractual stuff - I think people get way too tied up in what 'the contract' says. At the end of the
    day, if I engage an electrician or plumber to come and do some work for me, and they turn up a day late, they've
    technically voided the contract. Am I going to terminate the thing just because I can? Almost certainly not.

    There's been a lot of advice about going aggressive, or going passive - either way you're reacting to this guy who is
    being difficult. My 2 pence worth is to decide what you would have done if he had asked for the RAW files as part of
    the original contract. If you would have said 'yes' then hand them over with a smile, and reap the benefits from the
    goodwill & publicity saying "...I don't normally do this, but as I want you to remember your special day with nothing
    but great memories, yadda yadda yadda...". Perhaps he is being an a-hole right now, but the chances are the guy
    doesn't see it like this himself. If you would have said 'no' to a request like this in the first place, then decide if you're
    willing to do it anyway. If yes, then see solution one. If no then tell him/her to get stuffed and to pay up as they are
    obliged to.

    I haven't ever been in your exact position, but in any conflict situation, I generlly try to work out what's the best
    outcome for me, and I really try to keep any views on the behaviour of another individual out of that decision. When I
    forget to do this the result is nearly always worse (for me) - short-lived satisfaction has more than once meant a
    longer time reflecting that the smart thing to have done would have been to go the other way. This has applied
    equally to times when I gave in and felt I shouldn't have, as to times I was a hardball and regretted it later.

    Try to imagine dispassionately how you'll feel looking back on your actions in a year's time, and go with whatever
    makes you feel good. Remember you hold the whip hand here - you have made good on your contract, the B&G are
    seeking to change it post the event. It's YOUR choice, that ought to make you feel good if nothing else does!

    Take care and I hope it works out for the best

  86. Look, my friend, I have done a lot of weddings. I most always gave in in disagreements like this. No skin off my nose in the long run. However, just as I did recently, maybe it would be smart to withhold the commercial use rights to the pictures and specifically, and in writing, state that under current law you retain the copyright and release them for his personal use only and any other use had to be approved in writing by you. I had a busy season each year and did not want to get bogged down in disputes with the customer. I came from a tough military background and had to leave my macho behind when I started doing weddings. Aggravation is not good for the soul particularly when the worst case analysis shows little ultimate harm in giving in. Good luck to you.
  87. >>>many here that feels as if a client can demand this request and see it as being perfectly fine... doing so, you are not in control of your business and.. ...your ability to grow a succesful buisness will be time limited... have the option of being in control of your work, reptutation, business, and you will be able in substain your buisness growth through good principles and a little common sense. Letting clients tell you what to do through demands contrary to a legal contract is a very fragile buisness foundation.

    It is interesting to see the amount of folks who would willingly give up the RAW files despite a contract to the contrary. It's just bad business done for the sake of convenience. It's also just another indicator of photographers rights being eroded ... and the slope being made slipperier by laziness and apathy. "It's no big deal" ... "give it up and get over it." "Who cares, it's just photography."<<<

    Those who suggest letting the client obtain the raw files here are not generally recommending poor business practices or causing the erosion of the photography business. This is an isolated situation where standing firm on "principle" may not be worthwhile in this particular instance where most of the fee has been paid. Indeed, strict unwavering adherence to rights and principles can, at times, be bad business practice. A decision one way or another in this instance is a matter of practicality, not the ability to control a business overall.

    We can blame the client fully for the situation but there are many industries where the abundance of these at fault clients make it prudent for the provider to get paid fully before the client can get the benefit of fully delivered services. Wedding photography is one of them. Updating contracts and business practices to adress these things is key as well. Figuring out when practicality outweighs asserting rights for the mere sake of asserting rights is another attribute of sound business operation. So often a business owner will expend great wasted time and effort and double or triple the money there are owed because its sooo important that the wrong be made right. A folly when it comes to business. The original poster is in the best position to make a determination as to whether this one event will create or justify that amount of assertion of a particular right.
  88. David Hass ... there is a huge difference between a RAW file and a processed jpg or tiff.

    RAW files can be totally restored to the original "as shot" file ... and any post application of the photographer's vision and finesses is gone.
    Jpgs and tiffs cannot be reverted to the original, once
    closed and saved to a storage medium and provided to a client.

    I don't know many folks who don't do some post work on RAW files prior to converting to jpgs or tiffs. Some do it more than others, but the
    concept is the same ... part of the photographers vision
    is applied after the shoot. IMO, if you remove that, you are tampering with the work. Only the photographer has the right to do that unless
    they sign over that right to someone else.

    BTW, saving out a corrected file as a Photoshop RAW isn't the same as the original RAW file from the camera. In reality, it's not much
    different than saving as a tiff. Try opening a jpg saved as a PS-RAW file in Adobe Camera RAW.
  89. Marc -

    You are correct in saying that one can't get back to the original once it's saved in Tif or Jpg. But they can sure try and they can also do other things to the images.

    And by providing the client with images in any format, I'm in effect "signing over that right".

    In the end, it all comes down to a business model and a business decision. If I want to maintain 100% or as close to it control over my images, I don't provide them to the client in any format. If I assume good intent of the client and give them a copy of the images (in whatever format) then that's a decision (business) one.

  90. When I got married in 1985 I paid for the photos I wanted, and at the end I was offered the small proof's for an
    extra $100 of every shot. Getting the negatives was never an option. Today 23 years later I would love to have
    the negatives or even get some larger photos made. I am no longer just starting out in life and I can afford the
    cost of a better photo package. If the photographer was still alive and still had the negs I would pay for some
    more photos or offer money for the negs. As it is the photographer never made any more off these negs and I will
    never have the opportunity to get them or any new prints.

    My point is if you made your money off the wedding shoot, either give him the raws or sell them to him for a
    little extra. I don't know how your contract was written. It can go either way, it is not unreasonable for a
    photographer to want to make more money later by selling more photos down the line and if you give up the raws
    you are guaranteed to not make any more money so you expect a little extra cash.

    But you need to set these rules up in the contract before and not after the job. That way the couple knows what
    they signed up for.

    Now your decision is do want to get a reputation of being a really cool photographer to work with or a prick.

    The raw files mean nothing to you sentimentally, if you keep them you may take them to the grave with you and
    never make another cent or you can make your customers really happy and if nothing more, make good karma. This
    was one wedding job, not worth having someone bad mouth you for the next 25 years.

    In making up the rules for next time, consider different priced packages. Prices with several photo packages with
    and without raw files or they may buy the raw files at a later date. Make sure the couple is aware of the rules
    going into the agreement.

    Good luck and do the right thing.
  91. "In the past, wedding photographers made money by charging for prints. No one gave out the original film. If you've already given him the full-resolution JPEG files, you've forfeited the ability to stop him from making his own high-quality prints. If that's the case, there's no good reason to deprive him of the RAW files. If he wants to control the sharpening parameters for larger prints, let him. An amateur is perfectly capable of adjusting the sliders in ACR, and if he screws it up, that's his business. He could make a JPEG file look just as bad. "

    Yes, this is what I find interesting. In the old days, it was my understanding that a wedding, portrait or commercial photographer would NEVER release film negatives to a client. Now, it seems that digital files are released to clients. Once can do a lot even with high res JPEG. It seems contracts must cover all contingencies.
  92. Today 23 years later I would love to have the negatives or even get some larger photos made. I am no longer just starting out in life and I can afford the cost of a better photo package. If the photographer was still alive and still had the negs I would pay for some more photos or offer money for the negs. As it is the photographer never made any more off these negs and I will never have the opportunity to get them or any new prints.
    It's not the same argument. In the case of film photography you needed the negatives to get larger files made, or to get prints other than those you purchased. It's an irrelevant consideration in this case. The client already has all the digital images (in JPG format) at full resolution. Getting the raw files will not add value to the client - they won't have more pictures and they won't get bigger prints.
    What they will get, however, is the ability to reverse (not change) the photographer's interpretation of the image. In other words, to remove the value added by the photographer as a creative instrument, and reduce him to a mechanical extension of the camera. No more than a mere button presser. And once that happens (and is allowed to happen) then there won't be any concept of professional photography as a craft.
  93. If the couple is crafty a "raw" file allows one to make a better print than a jpeg; like when the wedding dress is overexposed and abit blocked up in the highlights.
  94. f the couple is crafty a "raw" file allows one to make a better print than a jpeg; like when the wedding dress is overexposed and abit blocked up in the highlights.
    I'd hope that would never happen. It would mean that the photographer was less skilled than the client.
  95. Mountains out of moe hills. Give them your normal edited JPEGs and then give them the RAWs as well. No risk of
    image misinterpretation/misrepresentation and a happy customer. And the fix your contract so there's no balance
    hanging out there after you've delivered images...yikes.
  96. If nothing else, this thread has been very educational. And nothing like making a mistake to learn to do things better from now on.

    This discussion may be moot, however. If you follow this link you'll discover that professional wedding photography is dead.
  97. If giving the RAW images is NOT in your contract, you are under no obligation to GIVE them and your client cannot use that as an excuse NOT to pay you......that's just plain ridiculous.

    I NEVER give the raw files........i provide edited hi res jpeg files.........never raw.........

    Do what you are contractually bound to do........and don't let this client pressure you to do what he wants........

    Saying he won't pay the balance until you provide the RAW files is black mail..............

    And, in the future, make sure you get fully paid 30 days prior to the event.........that's a standard industry practice, and it will prevent situations like this in the future.
  98. There are two separate issues here and they should be kept separate.

    Firstly it would appear that you have fulfilled your part of the contract. You must now get paid in full before any negotiations are made for extra services - unless of course you don't want to get paid for those as well. I would suggest that you write to them (everything from now on should be in writing) explaining that you have fulfilled the service they contracted you for and you must receive full and final payment before you are in a position to consider provision of the RAW files.

    Providing the RAW files is a business decision only. If you think they are of future financial value to you in the long term, having already provided them with high res jpgs then keep them. If you think that the client intends to work on them to obtain prints by creating new images that you could do for him, but he can do for free for himself then sell them to him. Personally I wouldn't give them away. That is your third option. Those RAW images are the essence of your profession and should not be considered worthless. If they didn't have some value the client wouldn't want them would he? Do not consider your skills and abilities as valueless. As a professional, dollars per hour is now only part of the consideration. So many people underestimate the time, expense and pure unremunerated sweat that went into you being as good as you are now. Now it's payday.

    I would also think about some of the advice given above regarding payment in full prior to the event. Ask yourself this, if you had got paid in full before the event would you now be giving away the RAW's on request. No of course not!

    As far as future referrals are concerned most people referred to you will be of a similar ilk to those that recommended you. Birds of a feather......etc. Your best referrals will always come from your best clients. You can and must still stay professional over this issue, and stand firm. There is a difference.

  99. I think it is worth to remember that the groom is a keen amature photographer. You can thank sites like this for educating people about the value of RAW files. Most of the keen amatures on here shoot their holiday snap in RAW . Most would never through away their RAW files and keep only their finnished JPGs because many will say that the quality of RAW converters is improving so the RAW file has the potentional to provide better quality with the next development of RAW converters. Some won't even convert to JPG they convert to 16 bit TIF because JPG is an 8 bit lossy format and they don't want to though away any precious image information. Lastly they print on expensive paper with pigment inks and look at the print with a loupe. They compare everything at 100% zoom in photoshop without ever thinking just how big the print would be to see those minute differences in details. Now when they pay a professional wedding photographer and are given JPG files you could imagine what they think they consider JPGs to be poor quality with lols of information just thrown away. Why would they want that from the most important day of their life when they would not use JPGs for snaps. You only need to look around some of the other forums to see that kind of thinking.
    My personal opinion is JPGs are just fine but once you have made the decision to give away image files does it really matter what format they are in. If they have high res JPG files I doubt they would really be ordering any prints.
  100. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    I think that Stuart Moxham`s makes good points and his suggested description of the Groom, is at the other end of the spectrum, to my suggested description.

    I thinks the real ``Groom``, (the one David photographed); and his skill levels; and what he does with the RAW files; will be somewhere between the description Stuart gave, and the description I gave.

    It would be very interesting to know the Groom`s actual motivation. There has been quite a lot of speculation on that subject. and David Myles has not made any comment in that regard.

    It is usually much easier to make correct / best decisions, when the ``why`` is known and understood.

    Why do you think the Groom is asking for the RAW files, David?

  101. Didn't Dave give us that information in his original post?
  102. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    ``He is an [amateur] photographer and I think he wants to play around with the files.``

    Hi John,

    Yes, I read that. I should have been more explicit.

    I meant more detail, in a general and profile sense.

    I was just interested in David`s gut feel of the Groom.

    For example, as two extremes:

    ``I think he wants to play around with the files because he just wants 86 B&W variations on a theme, and he is kinda a nice guy, I think he would get enjoyment out of fiddling with that type of thing``


    ``I think he really wants the RAW files so he has complete control over all the images, he will never be happy with any of the finished product I produce``


    I think the thread has been thrashed to death in all ways possible. I only asked because my curiosity was triggered about what ``type of guy`` the Groom was perceived as, in David`s eyes.

    That curiosity was triggered by Stuart`s post, and comparing it to my previous post.

  103. It looks as though the OP has left the building. There are now over one hundred posts in this thread and the OP only posted one followup comment (which was the 4th post). Out of curiosity I've returned to the thread just to see if there has been any update to the information. Without any updates this is all just speculation.
  104. It would be interesting tho ask on one of the gear forums here what files the particpants would prefer to have from their own wedding pictures. I am sure many would choose the RAW files if they could for the above reasons.
  105. William,

    I gather the client is more of the control freak you mention then the nice guy based on him making an ultimatum even though the prevailing wisdom is that the contract has been fulfilled on the photographers' part. Fleshing out the background may help guide how to respond although I will still reccommend letting this one time demand (unreasonable as I believe it is) be met for practical reasons and plugging the loophole in the future. I think the many posts illustrate the continuum of views on strict adherence to contracts in this case and in general and as to whether unedited (especially RAW) images should be closely held by the photographer. Seeing all this may help shape the reader's opinion in future events concerning these issues. I think the information you ask is useful but my sense is that the client's attitude and demeanor won't sway most people here very much. Maybe it will influence David decision.

    I might e-mail him and ask if he will be willing to tell us what his decision is.
  106. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    ``I gather the client is more of the control freak you mention then the nice guy`` (JH)

    That was my impression also, based upon the David`s post.

    ``I think the information you ask is useful but my sense is that the client's attitude and demeanor won't sway most people here very much`` (JH)

    I agree. . .

    On different slant on the topic, which might also add to the reason for my question: I work in Australia, we are far less (written) Contract Focussed in the W&P business here.

    It seems our Consumer Laws and the workings of our Department(s) of Fair Trading make for fewer litigious dealings, in the general day to day activities of running a small business: perhaps also, there is a cultural difference.

    Hence, I find these threads of personal interest, being an outsider, looking in.


    Just mentioning again: I do not sell or give away Wedding Negs (or RAW files), but that is a decision based upon business modelling, not because it is written into any contract, per se.

    Simply put: the Negatives and RAW files do not appear on the list of goods or services, offered for sale, from which the client chooses what they want to purchase.

  107. sounds like he's trying to simply get out of paying you if ya ask me.....
    the last customer that asked for the RAW files was back in June, when I told him I shot Jpeg, he had a cow.. he totally freaked out. After explaining (at length) that a raw file isn't needed to print a 30x40..... he calmed down. but in your case, if he really wants em'... let him have it..
    but they need to pay you first... send the disc COD
  108. "My contract states that I will give them high resolution JPG images. This was a destination wedding, they came
    to NYC so it was only the 3 of us for most of the day. They state along with the prints that are in the contract
    they want all the RAW images and then will send the balance of the photography payment. "

    I agree with other posts on the “send the CD COD”. They already have the photos and JPEGs and won't pay. That
    should already throw up a flag. There is no guarantee they will pay after they have the RAW files. Unfortunately
    some customers can be jerks.

    There was a fellow I ran into at work who was bragging that he took the smaller proof 5x7 photos of his wedding
    that the photographer loaned them so they could pick which shots they liked. He scanned them then gave the proofs
    back and said they didn't like any of them and don't want the photos and will not pay. I told him that was a
    scummy thing to do, that the photographer is trying to make a living. They basically stole the images. He looked
    at me like I was from another planet. He felt no guilt and some how justified this in his head that the
    photographer was stupid for letting him have the images. I got a good look at this persons ethics. Dealing with
    the public you run into all types.

    I don't know who the photographer is, but I hope they rethink how they handle their contract next time.
    They wasted time and money on this job.
  109. simple answer - you said "My contract states that I will give them high resolution JPG images" - If they don't pay their final payment you take them to small claims court - If I did a good job on the shoot and delivered what I stated in my CONTRACT !! that's all they get. There's no good will - it's business - contract LAW !! I've been a wedding photographer since 1973 (and an infantry sergeant in the Americal before that). Professional photography is a business like any other and should be conducted as such.
    NO they don't get the RAW files and none of you should be selling your RAW files, just like pro wedding photographers didn't sell their negatives before digital.
  110. Ok. I replied to this above but I wanted to add something to this now that I have experienced a friend go through something very similar.

    Do not give them the RAW images unless you are paid off. A friend of mine just recently shot a wedding and the customer wanted some RAW images before paying off the last of the wedding, she gave them to him via ftp and he still didn't pay.

    Ok. I would just write a certified letter (the kind the mailman makes you sign for verification), within this letter put a copy of the original contract he signed and put a letter detailing your next actions. My friend did this and about a week and a half later he worked out a payment plan. You should, in your letter, detail that you will work with them to create a payment plan in installments if they are having trouble. If he refuses, and you go to court, you will win easily and in some cases collect on damages for his actions.

    Now, this is extreme but honestly.... does a mechanic give his tools to some guy that wants to change his transmission. No, ok, maybe a good friend... but not a current customer. If he wants the raw images, give them to him... with a new contract and a price that reflects it.

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