What is the deal with the war between photographers who shoot RAW and those who shoot JPEG.
Why does this exist? If it works for you and works for your clients, then who cares? Right?
There is a new photographers group in my area. I have really enjoyed getting to know the girls and LOVE networking with other photographers in my area. One thing I have noticed in this group is that there is a stigma against RAW. I’m finding that many newer photographers are afraid of shooting in RAW. Here are their issues:
- File Storage. They’re huge files and that takes up a lot of storage.
- Can’t figure out the editing. The files look different and require more editing.
- Don’t know how to use it. What’s the point of shooting RAW if I can shoot in JPEG?
- Fear. Of messing something up with a shoot.
Here’s where I debunk all of those fears. I also want to throw this out there. I truly am NOT judging anyone who shoots in JPEG. I know plenty of super successful photographers who shoot in JPEG and produce amazing images. Basically, you do you. But don’t do you (ie. shoot in JPEG) because you’re scared. At least try it!
- File Storage. Yes, RAWs are big files. Guess what, external hard drives are NOT that expensive. I use about 4-6 tb of storage a year. That’s 35 weddings plus numerous family, senior, and engagement sessions. I spend about $200 or less on storage every year. That is nothing compared to what storage used to cost. Who remembers buying 250mb flash drives in high school for $100? GUYS. I am not the best at math, but even I know that means we would be spending thousands of dollars on terabytes if storage were still that expensive.
- Can’t figure out editing. There are a few things that you have to do differently when you edit a RAW image. One thing, is sharpening. Also, contrast/saturation (anything involving color). A JPEG already has had contrast added and has been sharpened. That’s why RAW images look a little more washed out in camera. But here’s what’s AWESOME about that. That means YOU have MORE control over the color. Not less. You have more control over sharpening your photos.
- Don’t know how to use it. A really big trend is having back lit images. You know, the pretty photos with gorgeous sunlight in the back? Those are possible to get with a JPEG, but you have to get exposure right pretty much in camera. If you have to mess with the shadows too much that will create grain. (Sidenote: a little grain is okay!). Shooting back lit images in RAW will help you get skin tones and shadows easily without much manipulation. BUT what happens if you over expose the sky? Or under expose the shadows? RAW is there for you. RAW will allow you to bring those up without losing much detail.
- Fear. I saved this one for last because, honestly, this one makes the least sense to me. Being afraid of ‘messing up’ a RAW image is completely silly to me. Like I said, if those highlights are blown you can bring them down and there will be some detail there! I recently photographed a wedding where the sky was AMAZINGLY blue. The clouds were super fluffy. They had their first kiss at the alter (so my settings were for that). I didn’t have a chance to switch, so I knew everything was going to be brighter than I would have normally wanted to capture the sky. BUT RAW SAVED ME!!! It could have been so much worse. I’m just so glad I could save that sky.
There really is nothing to be afraid of when it comes to shooting RAW. Play around with it, give it a true chance.