So, this question comes up from time to time, and I thought it would be useful to write the following explanation.
In a nutshell, RAW files are not ready for use. Professional cameras shoot in a file format called RAW. This is basically the digital equivalent to film negatives – all the information is there, but it is ‘undeveloped’ so to speak. Once I transfer the RAW files to my computer, I then need to use specialised software to open, view, and process these files. Much more is involved than simply converting them to JPEG format. RAW images need to have a multitude of adjustments made to them, all of which need a trained eye. For this reason, I preview all the images from your shoot, and select only the best to edit.
‘But you took so many photos during my shoot, aren’t I missing out?’ you may ask. The answer is, most definitely not! A large part of what you are paying your photographer for, is to wade through the masses of duplicate shots, the blurry shots where you were moving inadvertently, the ones where your eyes were closed, the shots that have your hair flying madly in the wind, and the ones that are unflattering, and pick out the ones that make you look fabulous. For instance, I supply approximately 20 photos for a 30 minute – 1 hour long family session. The reason why I allocate up to an hour, is so that you have enough time to relax, try different poses, etc. Then, while I am processing the photos, I select the best shots from each pose.
My various packages make provision for the amount of time needed to capture a variety of beautiful shots, as well as the time & skills needed to edit the number of photos included.
A side note: A few more reasons exist as to why no self respecting photographer will ever part with unedited images. There is the matter of authenticity, since if I were to give out RAW files, the one who edits them can claim such as their own work. Obviously a big violation of copyright. Even if the images were rightly named as my work, much of how a photo looks has to do with how it is processed & edited – so any images taken by me, but subsequently edited by someone else, or left entirely unedited for that matter, would not reflect my artistic touch, my personal stamp, and thus would not be a suitable reflection of my standard of work.
To illustrate, a novelist would never give anyone the unfinished transcripts of their book. Neither would a painter give clients an incomplete portrait. Only the finished products would be available for sale, as their skills could only be properly judged on the basis of these.
I hope that you have found the above explanation to be helpful!