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A Photographer & Videographer’s Thoughts: Raw Footage – Do I Get Every Shot?

Dom Matt Pad Photo Video1Photographers and Videographers are more or less always filming/photographing on your day, snapping away looking for all the elements to line up just right to create the perfect shot. Often thousands of images or video clips might be taken yet sometimes only a fraction of those shots are ever seen by the couple. So what actually happens to all that extra footage and why do you not usually receive all of it?

Whilst some photographers and videographers do actually share all of their files even if unedited, most will only include a limited number of shots or footage and only those edited in their particular signature style. The reason for this is quite simple: not every shot taken will enhance your overall memories of your wedding day, and in some cases including them actually takes away from the overall quality of the work rather than enhancing it. 

With the exception of taking certain posed portraits wedding Photographers and videographers don’t have full control over the images that present themselves in front of the lens. They can of course position themselves in the right place, they can make adjustments for the light, they can be all set to capture that perfect moment only for it to never arrive. Sometimes this can mean a lot of shots being taken in anticipation of that moment arriving but that don’t quite hit the right beat. For photographers especially they are trying to capture just a fraction of a second that represents the right moment and to do that they may have to take a burst of several photographs to make sure they get it, yet only one of those will be the one they want to share with you.

Repeats like this are a huge part of that total number of photographs taken on the day. Even during the formal group photos many repeats are likely to be taken as whilst the photographer (assuming the guests are willing) has control of the positioning of everyone in the shot, with so many people involved it’s extremely difficult to ensure that everyone has their eyes open and the right expression on their faces. Even with video sometimes a moment that looks like everyone is about to smile turns out differently, and sometimes there’s nothing you can do but simply exclude the shot from the final cut.

Raw Footage - Do I Get Every Shot?There’s also a case to be made that to a certain extent with photography and videography less is almost certainly more. Wedding videography, for example, has surged hugely in popularity since videographers started producing short highlights films rather than long full coverage of every aspect of the day and this is, at least in part, because actually it’s more exciting to see just the very best images of the day, to allow your own memory to wander freely to fill in the blanks, to just see your friends and family having the time of their lives on your wedding day rather than see all those moments when they were maybe looking at their phone or happened to pull a slightly odd facial expression for that fraction of a second that might give the impression that they weren’t enjoying themselves even if they really were.

But more than that, the shots that photographers and videographers include in the finished collection are carefully chosen for a variety of reasons. You choose a photographer or videographer based on their particular style and, with video particularly, the way the images in front of you flow freely from one to another. Sometimes an ‘ographer will find they have a stunning shot but that they can’t include it because it simply doesn’t fit with the rest of the images they’ve captured and a different shot does. It may on the face of it seem better to include that shot but if it disrupts the flow of everything else it can have a far more negative influence rather than a positive one. 

Some couples of course ask not for the extra shots as part of their finished edited product but for the RAW files or rushes to be included separately so that they do have every shot but quite separately from the main bulk of their wedding photographs or the final cut of their video. This is again something some ‘ographers are very happy to provide, but apart from the issues we’ve already covered there are some additional reasons why many will refuse.

RAW files or Rushes as they’re known in the video world are completely unedited shots straight from the camera. In the old days of analogue cameras these images were often more or less how the finished shots would look, however in the digital world this is, more often than not, not the case at all. Nearly all ‘ographers apply some form of processing to their images to help to put their own stamp upon them and refine them to their absolute best. ‘Ographers will all know how their images come out best during processing and will set their cameras to shoot in the way that processes best for them. This means that some will, for example, under or over expose their images (allow more or less light in than would normally be considered optimal) slightly in camera knowing that the process they apply has a brightening or darkening affect on the final processed images. This can lead to the RAW files looking relatively poor quality even if the end result is an absolutely stunning image, and so the RAW files are often not something you would want to look at anyway. Depending on their style of editing videographers may also only shoot very short clips (sometimes only a few seconds) rather than long sweeping shots and consequently the rushes are pretty much completely unwatchable on their own.

There’s also the issue of storing and viewing RAW files. Unless you have specialist software the chances are your computer will be completely unable to open RAW photographs for you to view them and the files are often enormous to have to store. It’s also important to remember that even if the RAW files are handed over, unless they also grant you full copyright over the images you will not be able to then edit them yourself or pass them to another ‘ographer for editing so they may prove to be of no use in that way either.

At the end of the day though the key thing to remember is why you hired that photographer or videographer in the first place over their competitors: for their vision, for the way they see the day, and the shots they include or exclude are as much a part of that as the photographs they choose to capture on the day itself. If there’s something they’ve missed then let them know and they’ll usually try to include it, but all in all the best way to get the most out of your wedding photographs or video is to leave those creative decisions in the hands of the ones who created them.

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