What is a RAW Image?

Recently, I had a client ask about the RAW images. They were excited and just wanted everything I snapped. I figure I would explain some of these terms here, in case it comes up again. Also show you a little behind the scenes.

Depending on the session, I take about 150-350 images per session. Adult sessions are usually less. Extended families, and sessions with small kids and pets are more images. Sometimes I need a few of the same pose because odds are someone blinked and then I can swap heads so for example 3 pictures actually make one. Then there are those images where focus missed, I snapped the ground, the wind blew too hard, or a funny look is on dad’s face… whatever it is those are taken out in my first step… culling.

Now I am left with RAW images. Simply put, RAW images are huge files. They are unprocessed and cannot be opened easily. Usually they can only open in an editing software that can interpret the camera’s sensor information. They are not for print either. Here is a recent RAW of myself for an example. (In order to post this, I had to convert it to a compressed jpeg- so even this is ‘processed’). These are typically dark to preserve skies and highlights. Lackluster.

From there I will batch edit all the images that will have the same basic edits. Usually images taken in the same location during a part of the session. Batch edits are done using a Lightroom (the editing program I use) ‘preset’ I have developed myself or adjusted from a purchased preset, for my preferred look. Presets are not a one-click-wonder like a filter. They always require a few adjustments. White balance, shadows, tone curve, highlights to name a few. Here is the same image after a batch edit. Just off, right?

Lastly, I will individually ‘paint’ the final images. This is the nitty gritty. Starting with the crop and alignment. Next textures get popped. Skin tone perfected. Blemishes, boogers (not on me, but yes tots), booboos cleaned up. Sky boosted. Photoshop editing too. Distracting clutter removed like background people, park signs, etc. Each image is touched up individually and this where a majority of your session time is spent. Here is a final image. Tada!

Certain sessions require more clean up. Newborn skin, teenager skin, busy locations. My style is pretty natural, I don’t do overly painted skin or blue, desaturated skin. I don’t add fake skies, just enhance it. I love playing with natural shadows and texture. All a matter of style. That may change over time or if a session calls for it.

So for a quick analogy. If you were at a restaurant, you would not ask for your food RAW. The experience is enjoying the final dish. Without shopping for it, preparing it- adjusting recipes, cooking it, putting it on the plate and serving it. There is a lot that goes into each of my final images. I am so proud to deliver the very best from your session! Just like a chef’s signature dish.

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