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The Value of a Professional Photographer

During a recent family photography session, I was asked what I do with all the unedited photos and if the client could have them. The question sort of caught me by surprise. Once I had explained why they wouldn’t be able to get all of them, even if I didn’t have to spend time editing them, it made me realize that this is a really good question. I would say it would be a good question from two perspectives. One, as a client I could see why you would think that it isn’t a big deal to ask for them. Especially since all I did was press a button. Two, as the photographer, I strive to give my clients the very best photographs from our session. Each session I set out to deliver a minimum amount of digital images, but I often strive to give you more to make sure you feel like I didn’t hold something back.


The short answer to the question is no. For those of you who know me, you know that No is not something I find easy to say. However, in this case I do it for a number of reasons. Some of these reasons are not because I’m greedy and want find an opportunity to sell a couple of extra pictures at a high price tag. I also don’t say no to pull rank, or because I’m feeling too lazy to deal with the additional editing.


You Wouldn’t Want the Unedited Pictures Anyway

The most common form of an image file type is a JPEG file. This is often the file type used when you upload images to your social media, such as Facebook or Instagram. It is often used when you place an order to have images printed. Among professional photographers, the more commonly used image file format is known as RAW. These files contain significantly more information, such as more color information along with better texture details in the shadows and highlighted areas of the image. Due to the fact that these files contain that much more information, the file size is significantly larger and more complex. As a result of this, you will need specialized software, such as Photoshop or Lightroom to even be able to open them. Therefore, if I sent you the unprocessed files, you wouldn’t be able to do much with them.


I heard this analogy once, and I think it summarizes JPEG v RAW files quite well. The JPEG is buying a table at IKEA, you either like it or dont. A RAW image file is going to a carpenter and have them use all the different tools in their shop to create a custom table for you.


You Hired Me for My Style

Before you signed the session agreement, you were able to view my work on my website. It gave you a chance to see what my style of photography is, and it allowed you to get a certain expectation of what your final images should look like. I wouldn’t post work on my website if I didn’t think that it would represent me as a photographer. I could definitely post the unprocessed images on the website, but it’s extremely rare that those images line up with how I imagined the shot during our session. The pictures below will help showcase why I wouldn’t want to release an image that I wouldn’t want to put my name on.


My Experience Will Help You Obtain the Best Images

There is also one big reason that you never see a lot of the images from the session. You wouldn’t want to pay someone to give you blurry shots, outtakes, or duplicates. For each of the images that you receive, there is often dozens of slight variations of it. A few will lack focus, some will hair in your face, or you closed your eyes (we all have to blink sometimes), or your child all of a sudden wanted to inspect a twig on the ground. Following each session, I will spend a lot of time going through the images. I compare a lot of them side by side to ensure you receive the best one. If I find myself with two excellent photos, rest assured that you will receive both of them.


Professional Experience and Quality Control

Yes, I agree that the smartphones are the cameras that we always have with us. And yes, they can take good pictures. I can honestly say though, that I have never considered framing a picture taken with my iPhone. The quality of those pictures are best suited for social media posting, and not so much for enlarging and framing. They often end up looking grainy and like they lack something.


At the end of the day, you are expecting professional-quality images, and I was hired to do this. Professional-quality means that you receive photos that fit the mood of the shoot, be it warm, cold, crisp, soft, clear etc. I also think there is a common misconception with photography that professional-quality means very posed, no character, and no fun type images. The images that clients receive will often include the “in between” shots; where I was able to capture genuine laughter, casual postures and families being families.


Find Someone Whose Work You Like

My best advice for you would be to relay your ideas and questions as best you can during the planning stages. This way there shouldn’t be any sort of confusion once the session has been completed.

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