Sometimes, I am asked to provide just the unedited photos straight from the camera to a customer. I always decline. This post explains why.
Remember that the camera does not take the picture. I do. If all you want is whatever the camera (set by someone who has less experience than I do) can do and nothing more, there are a lot of “photographers” out there who will happily give you whatever their camera produces at a lower price than what I will charge. When you hire me, you are going to get a set of quality images that will display you at your best and you can be proud of.
How Raw is “raw”?
First, usually when people ask for unedited photos, they normally mean the camera-produced JPEG. However, they could also be talking about the RAW file, which is all of the camera’s sensor data. Starting with the JPEGs, I only use the camera-generated JPEG image for proofing—looking at photos to see which ones are good and which are the duds. The camera does an OK job of producing a JPEG file, but it does not really know the look I am after. There are some controls to guide it, but it never produces an image that is exactly what I want in a finished image.
For example, here are two versions of the same photo of Dakarra:
In order to best see the color differences, you need to be using a color-calibrated display for your computer. Notice that by adjusting the white balance, the image has better color. Her skin and hair nearly glow. The processed image has more detail in the shadows. I also slightly cropped the image to do a better job of making her the focus of the image.
The camera RAW data is not intended for human consumption. It has more data than will fit into a JPEG image, and few computer displays can even show all the data in it. The raw data is also uncorrected for white balance, which means that the colors can be (and probably are) incorrect. I have been using camera RAW format for years, and I have developed a skill at producing images from it that are what I (and my customers) like. Unless you are a professional photographer or very experienced amateur, I am probably better at producing final images from raw files than you are.
Producing “the look”
I have a certain look that you hired me for. Before you hired me, you saw examples of my work that convinced you that I produce photos like what you want. That look might or might not be what the camera produces. In my case, I work really hard to get images correct in the camera. However, I still adjust exposure. contrast, and white balance. I will have edited the photos so your skin looks great; zits and other skin flaws are temporary and easily removed. If you want, I will soften any wrinkles you have. The pose and lighting will highlight your best parts and minimize what you are less proud of. I know this, because we will have talked about it before we started the photo session. None of this is in the unedited photos.
I will start this section with a story. Several years ago, I was working for a geologist, taking photos of her research site and of her and her students performing the research. I gave her a camera dump of the JPEG images. Being very conscientious, when she used one of the photos, she put my name by it. Normally, this is a good thing, because having my name associated with the photo might bring in more business. However, in this case, she picked a photo with glaring photographic flaws and put it on the web. I asked her to either change photos or remove my name.
Every photo shoot has duds. In some cases, the problem is mine. I might have blown the focus, framing, or lighting. It could be that you were making a funny face or had an awkward pose. I remove all of these duds. The only reason to show someone the duds is when I am working with a new model who needs to understand what poses work and what poses do not work for her/his body type. Otherwise, nobody ever sees them. What I deliver to you is strictly the photos that I am happy to have my name associated with.
I work with a professional printing company to produce a photo that has correct color and looks as good as what I see on my color-calibrated monitor. Producing a print is not as simple as just sending the photo to your computer’s printer. I work with the printing company to make the absolute best print you can get. I select the paper; this controls whether it is glossy or matte. Also, because “white” is the absence of ink and all inks are on this background, any color in the paper affects the colors in the whole image. The printers that produce my prints use many different inks, more than consumer printers and low-end commercial printers. This means that the colors are richer and more accurate. The printers are also color calibrated, which means that the image on my display is what the print looks like, within technological limitations.
The result of all of this is that the print I deliver to you will look far better than what you will get from a local discount store, drug store, most web printing companies, or a cheap photo printing place. In other words, you are getting quality.
I want you to have photos that bring back memories of the photo shoot and your life at the time. The photos will capture your beauty and sexiness. They are a great ego boost for you to see yourself as I can show you in photos. They make a great gift for your spouse or partner to remember part of why the two of you are together. I will give you photos that are properly exposed, have good colors, and have no duds. The prints will be beautiful, and you will be proud to show them off. You will get quality.
Why not schedule a photo session today?