Friends and clients frequently tell me that they’d love to learn to use their cameras better and I want to help.
Welcome to a weekly series full of camera tips and behind the scenes tricks from a professional photographer.
Let’s take better pictures!
Today, let’s talk about camera files.
Did you ever wonder why it takes a while to get your pictures back after a photoshoot?
One reason is that many professional photographer shoot RAW files.
But why would they bother, if RAW files make photo delivery slower? What the heck is even the difference between a JPEG file and a RAW file?
And most importantly, what’s the right kind of file for you??
What is RAW?
A RAW file is kind of like the recipe for an image. It’s sometimes called a “digital negative.” RAW files contain a ton of information, but the information hasn’t been cleverly interpreted by a computer yet. That’s why the “Before” pictures in this post look kind of flat and grey or have strange tints. They aren’t pretty yet, but they have SO much potential!
Why shoot RAW?
In my opinion, there are three levels of creativity that go into making any image.
- Creating the shot: This includes things like choosing the setting, the posing, the angle, and the composition.
- Using your camera: This includes things like which lens you use and how you pick your settings.
- Interpreting the image: This is all about editing. This is where the RAW file come in. RAW files let you as the photographer control how the final image should look.
Shooting RAW gives you the most power to interpret your vision. It lets you take an image to another level — literally!
What about JPEG?
A JPEG file has already been “cooked” by your camera or your computer. It’s like buying a frozen meal from Trader Joe’s instead of making it from scratch.
But here’s the thing. I love Trader Joe’s. (Especially their frozen Mandarin Orange Chicken.) Trader Joe’s is not a bad place to be and neither is shooting JPEG files.
In fact, if you shoot JPEG, you’ll be in good company. Cameras have gotten so smart that, these days, there are plenty of pros who shoot in JPEG instead of RAW.
But if you ever reach a point where you wish for more control over the colors, contrast, and “punch” of your images, learning how to edit your files is probably a good place to start.
Bonus Tip: It’s a bit of a faux pas to ask a photographer for RAW files from your photo shoot. Editing is one of many choices they make as an artist.
If you don’t like how an image looks, you can as for a “re-edit,” but this may come at an additional cost. It’s always a better option to make sure you like the photographer’s style before you hire them.
Want to learn how to take better pictures? Follow me on Instagram for updates about my latest posts or come back on Thursdays for more tips!