When you start out as a photographer or even just start into the hobby and do a shoot here or there for family, you don't tend to think about limiting the amount of images you hand out. You don't think about the benefits to culling images, or getting your brand out there. Typically at this stage you are still building your portfolio and are trying to get the experience under your belt. But what you don't know is this in turn will come back to bite you in the butt as a Professional. Let me explain.
This is a question I have come across on numerous occasions since I began my Photography career, and even more so since I rebranded. "Why can't I have all images?" or "Can I have the RAW photos?"
More then likely if you ask this to your photographer, they are going to respond with a firm "No." Why, you may ask? Well, because we as photographers want to give you the best that we can give. We want to give you the work we are proud of and are proud to have you show your friends and family.
Think about it, if you take an amazing selfie, what's the first thing you want to do? Post it. You want everyone to see that awesome photo and how great you look. However, if you take a selfie and its a clear shot up your nose into space, do you really want to post that? Lol... no. Photography is the same way when you hire someone. We want you to have the best to show off the best. It's not because we want to hold memories hostage.
Don't get me wrong I understand where clients come from, I get the "well I paid for them, why can't I have them all?" But here is the argument.
Raw photos are not the finished product. RAW images are much like film back in the old days. You wouldn't go to a photographer back in the day and ask for your undeveloped film after getting your photos taken. Why? Because the photographer would need to develop the film into amazing photographs. The digital world is the same way. We take uncompressed images (RAW) that are typically very bland and on the darker side, and turn them into extraordinary photographs during our post processing in Lightroom, Photoshop, and programs we use for editing.
On top of RAW images not being the final product, it takes special programs to turn RAW images into jpeg images that can be read by computers/cell phones/etc. Most computers cannot read a RAW filed image.
Impressions matter. If a photographer was to give out "all" of their images, we cannot guarantee the best of our images would be shared. This in turn means people will look at those images that you may have thought were funny, however technically it's out of focus, or very unflattering. When someone views that image, they are going to think that is what they should expect from the photographer. When you go to a hair dresser, you continue going back because you were impressed with what they did with your hair. You were happy with the outcome of their service. So if you went and they gave you a afro and turned your hair green, would you be impressed? No. And you certainly wouldn't recommend them or go back.
Misrepresentation. "Why can't I have the unedited images?" This one I would be asked quite a bit when I stopped giving out "all" images. The answer, because the unedited images misrepresent me. I am able to capture images and then further make them my own by using my own unique editing style in order to make them mine. That is why you hire me to begin with. You have seen my work and love my style. Why would you want images that are unflattering, or have a fault in them? I give out my best, and only my best. Because that is what I want to represent me.
Quality over quantity. "Well you used to give me over 500 images, now I only get to pick 15." Yes, this is true. Back when I started, I never culled my images. I never weeded out the missed focus, bad lighting, bad poses, unpredictable moments, unflattering images, etc. I was more worried about getting the images wanted and didn't realize how the "bad" images really hurt my business. So now, I cull my images. I still take 5-10 shots per pose (maybe even more with children or large groups) but during the culling process I will go through and find the best out of those 5-10 images and decide which is best, that will be the image that is edited and added to the gallery. "Why take so many of the same pose?" you might ask. Well, if I am shooting 10 people and took 5 image. The first person #1 blinked, the second the kids were fighting, the third, someone sneezed, etc. I am able to take three of those images and combine them to make a perfect image where everyone is looking, smiling, and posing as they should.
All in all we as photographers want to give you the best we can. We want to give you the images that will make you talk and brag to your friends and family about how amazing we are. We want the world to see you are your best, how we see you. So I promise you, we are not out to get you, we are not being mean. We are simply doing our job, as professionals in the photography business!