We’ve all been there … when a Client requests to get the Digital Files, whether RAW or edited. It can be difficult to refuse their request because, in the end, you just want to make them happy. There is a way to keep them happy and educate them as to why you don’t release your RAW images or give away edited images. Keep reading or watch the video below to learn how!

2 Reasons Not To Deliver RAW Files (Digital Negatives)

1. RAW files are unedited images straight out of the camera. Think of them as a homemade recipe. The images out of the camera are just the ingredients … unmixed and uncooked … hence, they are “Raw”. Because of this, they are not an accurate representation of your work or your brand. I am contracted based on the work seen on your website and your portfolio. What these images represent is your final “dish” (if you will), cooked and presented to you on a plate. I wouldn’t invite you to your home for dinner and present you with a tray of ingredients, expecting you to eat it and enjoy it. In the same way, I wouldn’t present you with incomplete images (digital negatives) and expect you to love it! It’s important for me to deliver images that I am not only proud of, but that you would also be excited about to share and display.

2. As an Artist, Business Owner and Professional, I set certain standards for yourself and your work. If I deliver RAW Files, it removes all discretion I may have in how I would want your work represented. It is both your responsibility and your prerogative to present your work at a certain level. This is why I take time to cull and enhance images that do not meet that standard of excellence I strive to achieve.

How to Respond to Clients Who Want the Digital Negatives

It’s a lot easier to respond to your Client when you understand why they’re requesting the RAW images. Is it because they want to edit the images themselves or are they’re concerned with missing out on great images? Whatever the reason, you want to know why, so you can respond to their specific need and not just offer a general response of, “I don’t give out my RAW files”. If they don’t understand why they can’t get the RAW images, it may leave them feeling unsatisfied with your Services. My responses to these requests and concerns are simply …

• “I am hired based on my portfolio and do not deliver unfinished work. Not only don’t the RAW files represent what the eye sees naturally, but the data requires special software to view, and is intended to be edited to make a final image. Because it only offers a general “unfinished” foundation for editing, the files can be edited in an unlimited number of ways (based on the editor’s vision). To protect my work and brand, my images are captured and intended to reflect my vision and standards.”

• “You don’t have to worry about missing out on great images. I only exclude images that are technically incorrect (exposure or focus), and unflattering images (closed eyes and unflattering expressions). All approved images are included.”

These responses educate the Client of what RAW files are, as well as helping to remind them why they hired you in the first place. It stresses the importance of protecting your brand, and of the Custom Service you provide to ensure they are excited about their final images.

When your Clients Want All the Edited Images From Their Session

Our work does not stop at the click of the shutter. If you don’t just “shoot and burn”, your Clients may not understand why they don’t get all the images from their Session.

I, for example, am a Boutique Studio, so I don’t shoot and burn. I offer a few edited images with their Package and any additional edited images with their print order. As a Boutique Studio, my Service includes the final product of prints and canvases to adorn the walls. Clients who just want the files to print themselves may get annoyed by this. In order to educate and reassure them, simply address their request with, again …

“I am hired based on my portfolio, and I do not deliver unfinished work. In addition to the overall preliminary edit I provide for your Gallery images, I also further enhance images to meet my brand standards and artistic vision. These additional enhancements require more valuable time to achieve the final product I can be proud of and you can be thrilled to display.”This response will educate the Client of the importance of your time and the value of your experience and skills.

When all is said and done, it’s your business and your prerogative as to whether you want to offer your digital negatives or not. If you choose not to, be prepared to respond clearly, concisely and confidently with your Clients as to why you do not make them available.

Do you have other ways that you respond when Clients request the Digital negative? Please feel free to share them in the comments below.

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