RAW vs. Processed vs. Edited Photos - What's the difference, and what to expect when working with a photographer
Photography is so much more than just taking a picture. The work doesn't stop at the end of the photoshoot, and the images are definitely not anywhere near ready to deliver to the client straight from the camera. And to make the process of photography even more drawn out than you may have previously thought, professional photographers have a variety of methods and styles in which they process your photos.
An experienced digital photographer will usually take your images in RAW format, unless you have requested otherwise. It's also common that they will share a few straight-from-camera shots with you either as the photoshoot is happening, or after which to either give you options to choose from or a sneak peak. The final look of your images will then depend on the photographer's personal post-processing and editing style.
Below I have explained what the difference is between these types of images, and what to expect when working with me.
RAW photos are large, uncompressed digital images that are minimally processes. Many photographers shoot in RAW because it allows the camera to capture greater amounts of image data, and allows for more creative control when it comes to post-production work. Unlike the JPEG format, which you may be more familiar with, RAW files retain more detail and information, so you're able to produce higher quality images, as well as correct problem images that would be unrecoverable if shot in the JPEG format.
Processed Photos - After uploading the RAW files taken during a photo shoot and selecting the best images for the client, they are then added to Lightroom for processing. Inside of Lightroom I clean up each image — I apply my custom created presets, crop the image, and adjust all of the elements within each photo to assure it looks polished, professional, and fits the brief I discussed with the client beforehand.
Edited Photos - Once the final processing is completed in Lightroom, images can then be added into Photoshop for further touch-ups. Photoshop offers greater creative control and allows the photographer to achieve more expansive edits than those offered by Lightroom. When it comes to removing intrusive objects, editing individual layers, and creating flawless imagery, Photoshop can give your pictured that extra little "pop" I find clients always asking for.
During every photo session I always shoot images in RAW. I'll take a wide variety of shots, including anything in particular the client might want, as well as some unplanned shots that come to me in the moment. Once I get home from the shoot, I upload all of the images onto my server, and then begin the editing process.
After selecting the best images from the photoshoot, I import them into Lightroom. I'll process each image with either my signature Darlin' presets, or a preset that I custom create based on the client's preferred aesthetic. Every one of my brand photography packages include fully processed images, but usually also includes edited photos as well.
Depending on the project and package selected, I'll edit further using Photoshop to add in extra layers of saturation and crispness, as well as to retouch the image as needed. Editing in Photoshop can be quite time-consuming, so I usually like to do a round of edits, and then give everything a final pass before exporting as high resolution JPEG files.
I hope this post helps demystify the post-processing of the images captures during your shoot. If you still have questions, don't be shy! Contact me and ask away!