How Shooting RAW Can Make You Look Like a Better Photographer

I generally take a mild offense when people look at my photos and say things like “wow, you must have a nice camera.” Sure, my Nikon D70 isn’t a bad camera, but it’s no D2x either. I also don’t have the greatest assortment of lenses either: I have the 18-70mm kit lens, along with the the 50mm f/1.8. That 50mm lens cost me $109 and is one of my favorite lenses. My point is that this NOT top notch equipment.

And while yes, I could go on ago trip and talk about how I studied photography and blah, blah, blah, it’s not valid for the point I’m trying to make. I do shoot my images in RAW mode and post-process them in Adobe Photoshop. But, this too does not make for an awesome photograph. Yes, you can pull out way more detail with RAW, tweak the colors more, etc., but it does not make up for a bad composition. So why am I saying that shooting RAW makes you look like a better Photographer? Because RAW forces you to edit your images. For me, about 10% of what I shoot could be considered “good.” The rest are either out of focus, not a good pose, or just simply not worth showing. Because I’m shooting RAW, I need to think about what I am going process and show.

No imaging service that I am aware of currently takes vendor-specific RAW images (or DNGs for that matter). In order to get your images printed, you have to process the images yourself. So out of the 200+ RAW images on your card, you are far more inclined to select only the best images out of the bunch to process. This generally a good thing since no one really wants to see all 200+ shots (30% which were out of focus anyway). Basically, the RAW work flow usually has people edit their images to best few. Some images look good on the surface, but when you start to process them, you can notice the flaws right away. When all is said and done, you a have a smaller collection of good images. The smaller good collection always stands out against the 600 images of your friends kid picking his nose.