You don’t always have to shoot Raw as a photographer, but you probably should

A raw steak on a wooden board - Header image for Sean McCormack opinion piece on shooting in Raw
(Image credit: Sean McCormack)

Lady Gaga almost sang Raw Raw, Raw Raw Raw, and the way some photographers talk, you're not a real photographer unless you shoot Raw. Is that really true? Well let’s look at the pros and cons and figure it out. Are there times when shooting Raw isn’t strictly the best option, but you probably should shoot it anyway? 

The great thing about Raw is the ability to make complete changes to the file. Two things stand out especially. The first is White Balance. Being able to change this after the shot is exposed is a blessing. And then there’s highlight recovery. With Raw files you have the ability to pull back up to two stops of overexposure! Your JPEG file would just be a grey mess if you tried doing that. 

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Sean McCormack

Sean McCormack is a commercial, and editorial photographer, book author, and regular contributor to Digital Camera magazine based in Galway, Ireland. He has extensive experience with Lightroom, dating back to its original beta version, and has tried out just about every plugin and preset available. His latest book is Essential Development 3: 25 Tips for Lightroom Classic’s Develop Module