Would you give a client your raw image files?

Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by aprilm, Jan 25, 2009.

  1. aprilm
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    aprilm New Member

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    I have an unhappy client who is demanding the raw files of her images (I offer digital files of processed images as part of my base fee). I'm generally quite protective over my raw files, but I'm curious as to what others would do.

    (I'm April, btw...I lurk occasionally, but rarely have time to post. Hello, everybody!)
  2. tirediron
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    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member

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    I can't envision any circumstance I would turn over RAW files unless it was negotiated and agreed upon before hand. What are the circumstances of her dissatisfaction (generally)? Is it a case where she feels she could do a better job of post, or she just wants them to have them?
  3. ksmattfish
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    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    My contract specifically mentions that the files will be delivered as jpegs. My FAQ explains that tiffs are available for an extra charge, but that raw files are not available.

    I'd be willing to negotiate ahead of time for the raw files if the client had good reason. I've shot plenty of weddings of amateur and pro photographers, and even they don't ask for the raw files.

    I think you need to figure out why she wants them. Is it just because she heard they were better? Maybe it would be worth it to give them to her to get her off your back, and she can learn that jpegs are what the labs want on her own.
  4. aprilm
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    aprilm New Member

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    She had originally requested to have a mix of processing (some in color and some in black-and-white), but when I gave her the disk, she said she had misunderstood. She thought I would give them to her all in color and let her choose which ones she wants in black-and-white.

    I charge $10/image to do color conversions, but since there was a misunderstanding, I offered to do it (eta: reprocess the b&w in color) at a discount. She was upset and asked if I could just give her the raw files (which I declined) and let her do her own processing to save $$. Honestly, I just want her out of my hair, but I don't want badly edited pictures floating around with my name attached to them, you know?

    And, like I said, I'm pretty protective of them to begin with. I barely let my husband see an unedited image.


    (To clarify, she's not asking for RAW files...I meant "raw" as in unedited.)
  5. sarahp
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    sarahp New Member

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    No way. I don't sell digital files, although I do sometimes "gift" the clients with web-sized files if they place a large order and even then I make it very clear that any manipulation of the files is prohibited and a violation of copyright. The only logical reason for a person to ask for RAW files is b/c they want to change them - and if you allow that you're giving up creative control. It's a deal-breaker, I think.
  6. tirediron
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    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member

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    But aren't your unedited files RAW?
  7. RyanLilly
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    RyanLilly New Member

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    A little more background would help, but generally a raw file is an unfinished product, So I would never give it to anyone, plus the raw is the origin of any photo made from it so if any issues involving copyright were to ever come up, having the original could be important.

    If you wanted to buy a painting and told the painter, that's OK I'll finish up the last few strokes. What would the painter say?
  8. aprilm
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    aprilm New Member

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    :blushing: No, I shoot in jpeg for the time being.
  9. RyanLilly
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    RyanLilly New Member

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    I guess I type too slow. Thanks for the backgroung. If you feel that the misunderstanding was partialy your fault, I would consider providing both the b&w and color photo, and then revising your contract to clairify what product is to be delivered.

    Usualy I see people offer all inages in color, and then additional b&w conversions availible.

    If this was a good client, in general I would say fix the problem. If the client was the type always expecting something for nothing, then Do what you feel protects your interests and find New/Better clients.
  10. tirediron
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    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member

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    Okay, gotcha. I would still be very hesitant to give any unfinished files to a client, but it may be worth it to get her off your back. If you did, you'd have to spell out very strictly what the terms of use were.
  11. aprilm
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    aprilm New Member

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    That's a great way to put it.

    Background: On the appointment request form, I have a section for processing preferences. I give clients the following options: black-and-white, color, a little of each, or custom (sepia, bronze, special effects, what have you). She put "a little of each" on the form. So I processed some black-and-white and some color, as per her instructions. After the fact, she says that she wants all of them in color, with the option to choose which ones will be processed in black-and-white. And she wants this at no extra charge. On my list of custom services, I have color conversions priced at $10 per image. I offered her a discount since there was an obvious misunderstanding, but she will only be happy for me to either (1) go back and reprocess all of the black-and-white images at no charge or (2) give her the unedited files so she can edit them herself.
  12. aprilm
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    aprilm New Member

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    This is what I intend to start doing.

    Thanks so much for the input, guys! I feel pretty good about the way I handled it. But this was my first time dealing with a difficult client (I've been doing professional portrait photography since July). It's good to hear opinions from other photographers. :)
  13. LarissaPhotography
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    LarissaPhotography New Member

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    We give our customers cds with the images too, and this has never come up for us. If it were me, I'd try to keep the customer happy. It's a little extra work, but in the end a happy customer is a referring customer.
  14. ksmattfish
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    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    Did yo give her a price list or does the contract have the prices listed? If not do the BW conversion for free, get her out of your hair, and chalk it all up as a lesson learned. Next time you'll make sure this is all clear ahead of time. :)
  15. Sarah23
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    Sarah23 New Member

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    I never, ever, ever give raw files. Very few people even SEE my unedited files.

    I do sell Jpegs after a certain minimum is met from their print order, and after that each jpeg is $100 a piece. But I hate doing it, and so far no one has asked for a digital file. (even the ones who have gone far beyond the $600 minimum purchase)
  16. Christie Photo
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    Christie Photo New Member

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    Very good.

    Remember.... WE get to say what happens. WE get to control OUR OWN WORK. I don't know why we sometimes let our clients tell us what and how we work. Would anyone presume to tell a chef what recipe to use? Would anyone even WANT to tell any other professional how to do his/her job?

    It's OUR work. WE decide.

    BTW, Sarah.... NICE site!!!

    -Pete
  17. Lyncca
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    Lyncca New Member

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    No way would I give out unedited OR RAW files. I would eat the cost of conversion and give her both and revise your contract. If you use Photoshop, you could set up a quick action and do a batch process and be done with it.

    I'm also a freak about who prints my pictures too. I released CDs to friends two different times for a free shoot and they took it to Walmart or somewhere alike and they looked awful, but when I sent the same to my lab, they came out beautifully.

    Now, if I shoot friends pics for free, the deal is that I will load them to my client gallery and make it at cost and they can order what they like so that I have control of the files and the printer. If they don't like it, they can go pay someone to do it! I haven't had any problems since :)
  18. 93rdcurrent
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    93rdcurrent New Member

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    Yeah, there would be no way I would give up my original files. I do recommend that you start shooting RAW since JPEGs lose image quality every time they are opened and saved again.

    I would also recommend that you take a little more time making sure you know exactly what the client wants when they are ordering images. I would think that her answer on the form was ambiguous at best and would need to be clarified before I started working on the images. I do think that the mistake was a bit both of yours but as a respectable business owner I would just chalk it up to experience and make the conversions.
  19. Holy Ghosted
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    Holy Ghosted New Member

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    I have not read through every ones post. However, I do not feel my response will be far off. Never under any circumstance would I surrender Raw or unedited files to a client or any one for that matter the only one circumstance would be subpoenaed by a court of law and I would still try arguing it to a point. There are also very few circumstances that I would give or sell full size files.

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