Article on Raw files, jpgs and tifs in wedding photography

♦ Bride and groom advice on image file endings and the importance of image editing ♦

Dear brides, grooms and other blog visitors,

I’ve decide to take some time out today from all the editing, because I really feel that this subject needs to be addressed.

The other day I had a phone call from a couple who have had their wedding photographed by another photographer, and now when they had decided to order their album – this photographer had gone out of business. So their question was, could I design and make an album for them out of the images that they had been given on their disc? I was soon to find out that the images their photographer had supplied them with where with RAW ending…


To me this is mad. And this situation made me realize that for many brides and grooms seeking a wedding photographer, a lot of the terms used in photography are just pure gibrish if you’re not a photographer yourself.

The file ending of an image is one of those things. In a time when some wedding photographers will give their clients high resolution files to keep on a disc, it is extra important to understand these file endings, because they will decide whether you will be able to open the images without professional software, if the images can be printed and – most importantly, if the images have even been edited. So I am feeling obliged to give you guys some information on what the differences are.

First just a quick note on what “file ending” means: After the file name of your digital image you will have different endings such as: imagename.jpgimagename.tif – imagename.raw – there are many more, but these are the important ones in terms of wedding photography. I will now tell you about each of these file endings individually, what the difference is and which one you want to receive from your photographer.

1: – the file ending with RAW: imagename.raw.

( There are different ending names for Raw however, depending on which camera has been used)

I’m gonna start with what a “Raw file” is, because this is the image in it’s very raw state. A professional photographer, using a professional camera will shoot your wedding in RAW setting (in 9 times out of 10). This is why:

* A RAW file will have much more detailed information than the other common setting: Jpg

* A RAW file is the most versatile for the photographer/image retoucher when editing the image

* A RAW file is kind of what a negative was like in the film days – a digital file that the photographer processes your final image from.

Do you as a client want RAW files on your final disc? NO!! ABSOLUTELY NOT! Unless you yourself are an image retoucher, there is absolutely nothing you can do with this file. What it means if your photographer gives you RAW files, is that he/she has done no editing what so ever to your images. And you can’t really use your images for anything:

– If you’re lucky and have a modern computer, you might be able to view them in your default viewing program.

– You will not be able to send these images anywhere for printing. Printers don’t take RAW.

– You will not be able to upload these image online.

– Your image has NOT even been edited – no colour or exposure corrections, etc.

Before I head on to the other image files, I feel that it is in its place to quickly explain the work process for the wedding photographer once your image has been shot, and it will all come clear to you, why your photographer has been very lazy and not done his/her job if you are given RAW files:


  1. Once your image has been shot in RAW, the photographer will import the RAW file into a professional image software.
  2. He/she will now do all the image corrections and editing to your image, perhaps transfer the image to an even more sophisticated program for further editing/work/playing around with your image.
  3. After this, your photographer will save your image WITH A DIFFERENT ENDING – most probably as a JPG. And this is the final image that you will receive on your disc.
  4. This is important to know: If a file has the ending RAW to it – it has NOT been edited. It is not possible to save a RAW file as a RAW once it’s been edited. Scroll down to the end of this article to read more details on the importance of the photographer’s editing, for you as a client.


2:The file ending with Jpgs or Tifs. (Ex: filename.jpg or filename.tif)

JPGs. This is the ending you want on your images!

  • This is the LIGHTEST option available when saving it on to your computer or backup, and in its original High resolution, it will have all the information in there for good standard printing up to size A3:)
  • This file CAN be printed by all printing companies – it’s the standard file- ending for printing:)
  • This file CAN also be uploaded online (although you probably need it in low resolution for it to upload):)
  • This file CAN be opened in all computer programs for images, and also in basic as well as advanced image soft wares:)
TIFFs. An alternative to the Jpg but not as versatile…
  • The Tiff file is much heavier in memory for your computer. And I mean much heavier. With a few hundred images or more, you are more likely to want Jpgs from your photographer.:(
  • A Tiff will include more information for printing in professional labs. But you won’t see a difference in a consumer/high street lab ( With the Tiff file, the image will print larger than A3 to really good standard – but only when printed in professional labs aimed at photographers and advertising companies – you can probably order large print from your photographer. You can from me anyway):)
  • A Tiff opens with most image soft wares:)
  • A Tiff can NOT be uploaded online (It can be uploaded in some up loaders. But it can’t be displayed online – such as face book, etc):(
CONCLUSION on bride and groom advice article 1
So just to conclude what I’ve been saying in this article: The professional wedding photographer will shoot in RAW to get as much detail and information in your image as possible. The photographer will then edit the image to his/her preference. The photographer will then save it as a JPG before writing it to your disc. That’s how it should be done! Think about it this way: A RAW file is called RAW, because this is exactly what it is: It is raw and hasn’t been coocked yet. A waiter in a restaurant would not serve his guest an un – cocked, raw dish, would he?
So the bottom line is: DO NOT accept a disc with unedited RAW files.

Some further information about The image editing – a VERY important stage in modern, digital wedding photography.

I feel obliged to give some further advice to brides and grooms on how important the image editing stage is – for the result on your photographs. I don’t think that it was right at all what this photographer mentioned did to this unfortunate couple – he skipped about 75% of the job! Yes I dare say that the editing is as high as 75 % of the job – at least in terms of hrs of work. Of course, the photographer has to perform really well as a photographer – put lots of money in towards the proper equipment, know lighting, know what to do with all camera functions, where to be and put a lot of energy and passion in to the work on the couple’s wedding day. But actually, when you think about it, the time that the photographer spends on the day for a full day cover, is just one very long day’s work. Probably about 8 – 12 hrs + time for travel. But the time that the photographer will spend on the computer… I can of course not speak for all photographers, but myself I can spend about 50 hrs in post production with a full day wedding cover. So essential is the editing part of the process, so I struggle to believe that any PROFESSIONAL wedding photographer spends less than 25 computer hrs – or alternatively pay a retoucher for this time. (Of course the time spent all depends a bit on what the photographer is charging as well – the editing might be very personal and thorough or it might be quite automated)

At the editing stage is where the photographer takes your images even further, making images in to bw or colour, making corrections, applying a personal style and experimenting with looks such as vintage, drained colours, crisp colours or enhanced colours, etc.

The editing process is actually a very difficult part. There are so many zilion ways of editing an image. The Adobe Photoshop softwares are so intricate and advanced – there are several options for everything you want to do to an image, several ways to combine, and different ways of doing things depending on what the image is like to begin with. A photographer’s editing style is the result of years of experience and experimenting, it’s not something you just learn over night. It’s an organic process where something new can constantly be discovered, and there’s a style to be developed which corresponds to the photographer’s shooting style. I can admit that I am still learning all the time. Although I started studying digital imaging and retouching on my first photography course in 2001 – I still discover new things. The best retoucher for high end fashion magazines can still open his/her Photoshop program and discover something new. It’s like playing world of the war craft. (An Internet game that doesn’t have an end – my brother has been playing it for as long as I’ve been using Photoshop! :))

I know that there’s a lot of text in this bride and groom advice – article and I hope that it is not too difficult to understand. I just want to break the text up a bit with an image. So this is an image of what a professional image- software might look like once opened with a photograph. (This particular shot is from Photoshop CS 4) See all these tools and options in the software? And I’m not even able to open them all at once for you. These tools and options are of course not there for the photographer to totally change and add random effects to your images. A lot of tools is what is needed to make just small, hardly noticeable tweaks as well. Hopefully this image can paint somewhat a picture of how much is involved in the image post production – a process that photographers like the one in this article, just choose to ignore…


article-raw-files-jpgs- tifs-wedding-photography


I’m hoping that this advice article has been helpful for couples who want to understand more when they are looking for a wedding photographer. And I’m sorry if I sounded a bit angry  here – but I actually am a bit angry with what happened to this couple… Please feel free to post me a question if there is something that you don’t understand, I will answer your question if I can! I believe that it might be very difficult to know what to look for when searching for a wedding photographer, so there might be more Bride and groom advice chapters coming up on my site in the future!

  • canape - Fantastic post. Thumbs up!ReplyCancel

  • Jo Wheeler - Whilst I realise this article is a little old, I have recently been asked to supply RAW images after a wedding to the Groom as he wishes to work on them himself within Apple Apperture. I am not aware of the package, but understand it is comparable to Lightroom which is the processing package I use.

    What are your view on supplying RAW images? I’ve initially said yes, but after having thought about it, I’m having a number of reservations for a whole host of reasons.

    I would like to hear your views please? Thank you.

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