Careers: Photography/Raw Photo Processing
I'm a part-time photographer shooting mostly weddings. A few months ago I began shooting raw and have been processing my own raw files. I'm finding this to be a time-consuming and tedious task. I was wondering if you shoot raw and do you process your own raw files? Why or why not? I appreciate your thoughts.
Thank you for your questions concerning the processing of raw camera files. As a self-employed portrait/wedding photographer, here is what I found works best for me. In the consistent light temperature & exposure of my studio flash, I shoot JPEGs. I am able to easily and quickly adjust and enhance every JPEG in photo shop to create almost technically flawless JPEG portraits. However, when shooting outside the studio in the ever changing and mixed light temperatures of the outdoors I shoot raw. For me personally, it is very important to shoot raw especially when shooting weddings which cannot be re-done and when shooting journalistically where I don't always have even a few seconds to change camera settings to create more technically accurate JPEGs. I know by shooting raw camera files I will be able to create more professional quality JPEGs later. Most brides who are serious about their wedding photography don't mind paying more for photographers who are able to provide them more images which are technically professional as well as obviously the style of photography these brides desire. Most photographers achieve this by shooting raw.
Shooting raw of course does require that someone sit down in front of a computer and make all the judgements necessary to create high quality JPEGs. Most photographers would rather be busy shooting. Especially if this is where we make most our money. But not all photographers are so busy shooting that they can't take the time to sit in front of their computers and process their own raw files. If you got time to do it you can save yourself the cost of having a lab tech do it for you. What do you pay yourself for processing your own raw files? I think the ultimately boils down to how much money you simply save when you do it yourself instead of paying someone else. Now, there are creative decisions which can be made when processing raw camera files. But creative & technical decisions like this have always been a discretion photographers have historically given to their lab techs - at least when it comes to printing proofs. Only when a film based or digital based lab tech created "bad" proofs for me would I request a different tech or go to another lab. I don't mind paying someone else to process my raw files and creating beautiful JPEGs of my work. Especially when it achieves this - it gives me more time to shoot the weddings of the brides wanting to hire me and gives me more time for customer service and other important business tasks. I make a LOT more money shooting than I would save paying a great lab tech to process my raw photo files. Sure, I may not always agree (at least not completely) with how my digital lab tech may have processed SOME of my raw files, but these "creative differences" aren't such that it made my wedding or portrait customers unhappy. "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder". Some images which I may strongly feel should have been done differently might NOT have pleased my customer as well as the interpretation my digital lab tech applied to those images. For these reasons and more, as a business person it makes economic sense for a BUSY photographer to have someone else process the raw image files. During the wedding season, I shoot as many as eight to ten weddings per month usually June through August. When you also have a lot of engagement and portrait sessions to be shot outside during the summer months resulting in hundreds of raw files needing processed and other business tasks to perform, this can easily be too much for any one person.
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