Showing Clients Raw Files - Yay or Nay?
Some photographers frown upon sharing raw files with their clients. However, others will happily share raw images. Which is correct? It all depends on your preferences. There are no hard and fast rules about sharing (or not) raw images with a client. It could actually be a good thing.
Let's explore four reasons for sharing raw files with clients.
SAVE TIME WHILE MAKING MONEY
If a client asks for the raw images, what would be your objection to sharing those files? Why not sell the pictures just like you would sell the edited images? If a client is willing to pay for the raw images, and they're happy with raw files, then why not sell them? It can save you time because you won't need to enhance or edit the images.
GIVE THE CUSTOMER WHAT THEY WANT
A happy client is a return client and one more likely to refer you to their friends. This is a simple rule of thumb in business: give the customer what they want. If a client is willing to walk away with raw images, it's a win-win! You've given them what they want while saving time by not having to edit the photos.
KEEP THE EGO OUT OF IT
Some photographers don't want to show, let alone sell, raw images because it's not the "best" version of their work. Get over it. Clients are most likely hiring you because they've seen your work somewhere - usually your website. What they're seeing is the final product, usually enhanced to some degree, and likely the best you've got to give.
Still, that's not an argument against sharing raw files. There are two ways to go about this one. Show the raw images to the client explaining that what they're seeing are unenhanced images. Those would cost them less than enhanced/edit images. You could show them a few before and after shots so they can appreciate the difference between raw and enhanced.
They can then decide which version they would be willing to purchase. Obviously, enhanced/edited images cost more because you need to account for your time and talent editing. You can still go ahead and enhance the pictures to use on your website gallery!
Even if a client hasn't requested to see the raw images, sharing several of pictures before you've finished all of the edits can be a good idea. It helps builds excitement with the client for what's to come after editing. They'll be even more impressed - and more appreciative of your work - once they see the final product.
Not many clients, especially non-photographers, are even aware of just how much work goes into producing the final product. Most will assume that what you're shooting in a photo session is pretty close to the final images they will receive. Part of delivering the best images possible to a client is good, open communication. Understanding what their vision and expectations for their pictures go a long way toward providing an excellent customer experience and final product.
It's entirely up to a photographer whether or not they want to share raw images. The catalyst either way could be whether a client asks for them or how well they understand professional photography. While you are a photographer wanting to put forth your best work, you're also a business owner. Giving a client what they want goes a long way toward building developing a regular clientele eager to refer you to their friends.