Selling your photographs can be tricky and cumbersome, especially if you don’t understand the value they have to the customer or the market. Selling RAW file format photos is more delicate because they are not auto-edited or compressed, and they take up a lot of hard drive space to store.

How much should you charge for raw photography? You should charge whatever you would lose on re-print value. When you sell the RAW, you lose the copyright and original work that could be residual income through other means.

If you read below, we will cover what a RAW photograph is and how you should determine what to charge for those photographs.

Things to Consider When Deciding Price

Trying to decide on how much to charge for the RAW format photo can be tricky. There are so many factors that you need to consider when trying to come up with a quote. Here are a few thoughts that you should consider when pricing your RAW image:

What is the Opportunity cost?The opportunity cost to not keep the image for future income.
What is the sentimental value of the photo?You need to question how much you value the image.
What are others willing to pay for it?Find out how much it means to your clients and how much they value the image.

The Opportunity Cost

How do you know that you are losing out on potential income from your image? What can you do with that RAW photo that can bring you more income in the future? What is the potential of reselling edited copies of the image online?

Part of analyzing the decision to sell the picture requires you to take account of the other selling opportunities.

  • Selling edited versions of the photo can bring in extra income. The client may want a variety of printed and digital images, all of which you can provide to them for a price, but if they have the RAW images, they may find someone else to do the work or do the work themselves. (Although most non-photographers do not know how to edit RAW images.)
  • Or, let’s say you decide to start your website for your photography business. You will need some excellent, robust, sharp images to use in your design. If you have original work, you can copy and edit some of that work for your website.
  • Another option is to post these photos on sites like Shutterstock or Adobe stock photos. People will pay to have excellent quality photos for their marketing materials and websites. If you have excellent editing skills and the right types of pictures, then you have the potential to make money this way.

To calculate the price of the original based on opportunity cost, you need to estimate how many potential purchases at a specific amount you will receive from a copy of your photo. Once you have your estimated sales, then you use the total as your initial lump sum price for the photo and copyrights.

The Client’s Sentimental Value

Every client you have is unique in the way they value things in life. Some people are emotionally attached to memories and memorandum. Some people can detach from most things that people consider to be important to keep, and others are neutral.

Knowing how much the photo is worth to your client is useful in two respects: you will know what to do with the RAW photo, and you will know how to price it if they want it.

Some clients will want to have their photos edited and offered in different print packages. That is what many people like to do. Some will want the RAW images because it was something significant that took place in their life or because they want the rights to the photos. You won’t know until you ask.

If privacy is the reason your client desires the RAW photo, then agree not to post their photos online or use them for marketing material. Make sure that you to allow them to permit you to use the pictures for business purposes or to keep those photos private. It’s important that everyone is on the same page.

If they opt to keep them private, then the value of the original may go down, based on the opportunity cost of not posting for resale. Make sure you know where they stand concerning this issue before you make any business decisions with their image.

Your Sentimental Value

Set aside your client’s preferences for a brief second. What is it you value as an artist? Were some of your best work accomplished with these photos? How do you feel about selling the photos?

One aspect is that it is your portfolio. Every photo you take says something about you as an artist. It shows your artistry and your skill level as you progress through the years. You want to consider this when deciding the sentimental value.

When you sell the RAW photograph, you are not just selling a photo. You are selling the original copyright to that photograph and any edits made to it. The scene and all copyrights with it will go to the buyer. You need to ask yourself if you want to do that.

Setting a personal policy concerning your work will solve this issue. If you don’t like the idea of selling the RAW photos, then make it rule, that you don’t give or sell the originals away. If you aren’t that connected to it, then establish that the originals are available for sale.

If you decide to sell the RAW images and you have a robust sentimental tie to these photos, make sure that it is for a price you can’t refuse. Otherwise, keep them. You must make that judgment call.

The Print Package

Many photographers often like to offer their client photo print packages to their clients. These packages can vary in materials used, size of photos, and the number of photos that the client wants to buy. What enables you as a photographer to be able to offer these packages is copyrights to the original photo.

If you sell RAW image (and the copyright along with it), the client will not need as extensive a print package as they normally would.

You need to examine your printing supplier’s prices, your costs, and your opportunities to sell versions of the same photo online or in person. Use this information to determine whether you should sell the RAW file format of the photograph.

The Re-Print Value

You need to find the right venue to sell your work. In more recent years, that venue became the Internet. Online, there are many millions of photos in different areas with different prices, ranging from free to hundreds per photo.

It is this type of opportunity that you need to analyze when deciding to sell your RAW photographs. Can you make more money selling it online? How long will it take before someone buys it? Is it more profitable to sell to my client right now instead of waiting for people to notice it and buy it?

Asking these questions will help you get an idea of what your opportunity cost is not to keep the RAW photos. Likewise, you should take that opportunity cost and work it into the selling price for your client. If you are going to sell the RAW image, make sure that you are selling it for at least as much as you would make off of a full package deal and/or online sales. Otherwise you’re just throwing money away.