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Photographers, clients, and digital negatives?


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#1 ScubaDiva

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Posted 14 April 2010 - 02:18 AM

I've been looking at getting a shoot for some family pictures and the issue of digital negatives from the shoot is bothering me. It seems that some photographers only want to give the client a selection of the photos taken in polished jpeg or tiff form on disc (although I don't really understand tiff) even though it will be shot in raw. This to me is the equivalent of old film photos and them not handing over the actual negatives.

I can understand some of the reasoning behind this but I do feel that as a client paying for her image to be shot that I want the 'originals' as well. What is your opinion as both clients and photographers on this?
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#2 scorpio_fish

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Posted 14 April 2010 - 02:52 AM

I can understand some of the reasoning behind this but I do feel that as a client paying for her image to be shot that I want the 'originals' as well. What is your opinion as both clients and photographers on this?


When one contracts a photographer, the contract usually states exactly what the deliverables will be. Back in the "old days", a wedding photographer didn't hand the client a package full of negatives. Negatives never left the photographer. Unless there is specific contract to provide the RAW files, it is not going to happen, nor should it. This is assuming that the RAW files and ownership are provided together.

Another perspective from the photographer is that the client then takes the raw, post processes a bad photograph into a worse photograph and then shows it as an example of the photographers work.

In summary, most photographers are contracted to provide a product (i.e. a group of finished photos) or they are contracted for their time. Even if they are contracted for their time, the work product from that time is also specified. It is possible to contract the photographer to provide the "negatives", but it not in the best interests of the photographer, unless it comes with appropriate compensation.
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#3 ScubaDiva

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Posted 14 April 2010 - 03:36 AM

I can understand why they might not have handed over physical negatives, but these days they can copy the raw files. Also I see how they might not do it if they were paying a model for a shoot or doing landscapes or art, etc. However, I'm not sure I see why I can't have a copy of the files if I am paying for my image to be taken.

I guess it is just something I never thought about before and it came as a bit of a surprise.
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#4 PRC

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Posted 14 April 2010 - 05:42 AM

Surely the final deliverable to the client is the processed jpg tiff or whatever file(s) that were agreed as part of the job.

The raw files are just an intermediate step toward the final product.

Unless specifically requested I would not provide the raw files - what about all of the outtakes poor exposures and the ones with a hand over the lens etc would you want them passed on as well?

If a client later requested a specific raw file for a reason then I see no problem in providing it if the reason for the request sounded valid.

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#5 james

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Posted 14 April 2010 - 05:53 AM

Basically the finished product delivered is what you specify in the contract. To obtain the RAW files is probably going to cost more.

My contract w/ my wedding photographer specified that he would deliver the RAW files and MF negatives. He quoted me a price for that and didn't have a problem w/ it. It was more than his usual wedding package, but then again he didn't have to spend any time doing post processing.

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#6 PRC

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Posted 14 April 2010 - 06:01 AM

Interesting that you got charged more for less work there James - neat trick if only I could figure out how to pull it off.

With a wedding (unless I can flog em to 'Hello' Magazine) then the images probably only have limited worth to any other party than the client and immediate family.

Most of the wedding shooters I know shoot jpg as the post is faster.

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#7 Paul Kay

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 12:02 AM

Depends on the shoot and client's requirements! Personally speaking, I'd be delighted to shoot some jobs and hand over the RAW files to the client so that someone else can sit in front of the computer for hours and carry out all the post processing! Unfortunately this doesn't happen as I've yet to find a client prepared to pay me first to take the images, and then someone else to post process them, so I have to post process the images and the client naturally enough gets final images, but not the RAW files. ScubaDiva, you are in a real minority in wanting the RAW files and as its outside the normal way images are supplied, you'll need to find a photographer actually prepared to supply the RAW files; anticipate that you'll be charged more in lieu of 'secondary' sales by the photographer (print reorders, etc.) and to compensate for any potential 'quality' issues with the final images. By the way, very, very few film photographers ever handed over the negatives either - this is nothing new.
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#8 ScubaDiva

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 08:54 AM

Depends on the shoot and client's requirements! Personally speaking, I'd be delighted to shoot some jobs and hand over the RAW files to the client so that someone else can sit in front of the computer for hours and carry out all the post processing! Unfortunately this doesn't happen as I've yet to find a client prepared to pay me first to take the images, and then someone else to post process them, so I have to post process the images and the client naturally enough gets final images, but not the RAW files. ScubaDiva, you are in a real minority in wanting the RAW files and as its outside the normal way images are supplied, you'll need to find a photographer actually prepared to supply the RAW files; anticipate that you'll be charged more in lieu of 'secondary' sales by the photographer (print reorders, etc.) and to compensate for any potential 'quality' issues with the final images. By the way, very, very few film photographers ever handed over the negatives either - this is nothing new.



Thinking about it I don't want to sit and post-process the photos - your absolutely right this is part of what I will pay for. I guess I just focused on the raw thing cos I'm used to chatting about that format with u/w photographers.

More the issue is how many of the photos actually shot do I get. So say 200 photos got taken and a selection were post-processed and then the client ends up with 50 that they choose from the proofs. What about getting the rest of the unprocessed ones? It only takes copying over and they are the ones that didn't have time spent on them. I guess the argument there would be that a professional photographer wouldn't want to hand over 'all' as some may not have turned out well and so they wouldn't want 'bad' photos by them being seen.
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#9 decosnapper

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 11:39 AM

................So say 200 photos got taken and a selection were post-processed and then the client ends up with 50 that they choose from the proofs. What about getting the rest of the unprocessed ones? It only takes copying over and they are the ones that didn't have time spent on them. I guess the argument there would be that a professional photographer wouldn't want to hand over 'all' as some may not have turned out well and so they wouldn't want 'bad' photos by them being seen.


Try thinking of the photographer being paid to "produce and provide" (say) 50 shots to select from. This is all privately commissioned photography boils down to. The rest are not relevant to your needs, or those of the photographer.

You get the images, he keeps copyright but can do nothing with them. (Note - this is UK copyright interpretation.....check local variations)
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#10 Natalie_S

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Posted 19 April 2010 - 09:48 AM

More the issue is how many of the photos actually shot do I get. So say 200 photos got taken and a selection were post-processed and then the client ends up with 50 that they choose from the proofs. What about getting the rest of the unprocessed ones? It only takes copying over and they are the ones that didn't have time spent on them. I guess the argument there would be that a professional photographer wouldn't want to hand over 'all' as some may not have turned out well and so they wouldn't want 'bad' photos by them being seen.


Most photographers will not show you all the photos they took. They choose X amount of the best photos, do basic post-processing, and show you only those photos. Later, when you choose the photos you want for your package, they will edit those ones (removing blemishes, etc.), which takes more time. Any photographer will tell you that the less time you spend in post, the better (otherwise you better be charging for all that time you spend on the computer, or have an assistant doing all the post work). Hence the reason many wedding photographers shoot strictly JPGs.

Edited by Natalie_S, 19 April 2010 - 09:50 AM.

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#11 John Bantin

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Posted 19 April 2010 - 10:29 AM

Our mag sometimes asks photographer's for a copy of the RAW file of a specific pic but only because the tif/jpeg supplied was poorly converted. They never ask me for RAW files 'cos I'm so BLOODY good at converting pics (and my original attempts in camera are crap!)

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