RawShotz Appallingly Asks Photographers to Give RAWs Away for Free

Photographers need to do all they can to stop RawShotz from giving their RAW files away for free.

“RawShotz was born out of a desire for designers and creatives to have access to free, untouched, raw images while giving professional and amateur photographers full creative attribution and unlimited digital storage,” is the line that caught my eye. An email came to the Editor’s inbox here at the Phoblographer the other day about this company. It’s a brand new stock image company that’s taking things further by violating the rights of photographers. While those like Unsplash try to blindside photographers with tactics and working with companies like Moment and Peak Design, RawShotz is going the next step. They want you to give your RAW files away for free. We understand that there are many new photographers out there, so we’re going to break this down in a straightforward way. Our intention is to look out for photographers since the photo world doesn’t really enjoy the same copyright protections shared by the music and video worlds.

Well…That Was a Lie

RawShotz starts out by blatantly lying to the press in their press release communications. If you go to the RawShotz license page, you’ll see a much different story like in what is shown above. They claim to be “giving professional and amateur photographers full creative attribution,” but that’s not the case. In fact, they’re not enforcing it at all. They’re asking photographers to give their RAW files away for free to creatives and designers. Those designers aren’t required to attribute you.

What’s more, the RawShotz homepage says that photographers get paid. But again, that’s a smoke and mirrors game. Here’s a direct quote from the press release:

“RawShotz gives designers and creatives access to a range of free photo editing tools, free unlimited digital photo storage, and the highest quality RAW file stock photos, while also allowing them to donate to photographers directly.

That’s the only way photographers get paid. Otherwise, images are put into a daily drawing. The winners of the Best Horizontal Photo and the Best Vertical Photo get their photo highlighted as the computer wallpaper of the day for consumers to download. The creative with the most liked photo and the most downloaded photo gets a $10 Amazon gift card. The trade-off is giving away an image for free and trying to play into the social media community aspect. Here’s some more info from the press release:

“In addition, RawShotz offers various technical features to address common pain points in the industry for both photographers and creators. All photos uploaded to the website are protected by patent-pending technology that digitally authenticates RAW files to identify the image’s valid author/owner as a layer of intellectual property protection. Photographers then have access to unlimited digital storage where they can upload their entire photo collection, whether it’s 100 photos at any time or 100,000 photos by request. The digital archive allows for easy transfer of photos. It eliminates the need to use third-party platforms to send files via transfer or link as users can upload and download directly from the website. After the photos are uploaded, they are automatically tagged with artificial intelligence technology, which develops a sentence describing the image and improves SEO optimization for the photo.”

Why You Should Never Give Away Your RAW Files

Professional photographers, journalists, and creatives have known for a while that you never give away your RAW files. Or at least, you never do it for free. There’s a significant loss of intellectual property that occurs if that happens. I understand that many photographers are hobbyists. So let me break this down in list format and equate it to other industries. I’ll start with a quote from the Joker in the Dark Knight. “If you do something well, you don’t do it for free,” says the Joker. And now here’s the list:

“LOL. You’re not even getting credit…At least if I got mugged on my street, they’d be more honest about it.”

Photographer Brent Eysler
  • A baker wouldn’t give away bread for free and attribution.
  • You wouldn’t go to a personal trainer that didn’t know a thing about fitness except what they learned from YouTube.
  • You wouldn’t ask someone for free peppers that they grew in their garden.
  • You wouldn’t ask a cab driver for a free ride.

Let me be a bit more forward about this. You wouldn’t provide free raw material for someone else to take and turn into something possibly extraordinary that they can make a ton of money off of. You’re probably arguing that the barrier of entry in photography is very low these days. Everyone has a phone, after all, so anyone and everyone can create these images themselves, right? Then why haven’t they gone out and done so to get their own creations ready? RawShotz is doing something incredibly unethical here.

“I think this is a terrible idea for any photographer. The only time as a professional photographer that it’s even remotely okay to give your RAWs to a client is if they’ve done a total buyout. And total buyouts are very expensive.”

Photographer Jeanette D. Moses

“I would never give any files away for free,” says professional photographer Michael Rubenstein. “No one gets to use images that I make for free because this is literally my job. That is how I eat and pay my mortgage.” Mike continued to say that he doesn’t trust a random creative to donate to him if he gives his images away for free. His belief is that no one just sends money to you without you asking for it. Understanding that not everyone is a professional photographer, he commented on the idea of providing raw materials for free.

“I’m going down to the lumberyard to ask them for all the materials for free. Then I’m going to build a house and sell it. And then I might mention them and give them $5. But I might not.”

Michael Rubenstein in comparison to the RawShotz model.

Whatever you do, we beg you to carefully consider working with RawShotz and their massive ethical violations. It was obviously started by some techy looking to get rich and cash out with little regard for anyone else.

More importantly, if other photographers are making their living by not giving away their raw files, shouldn’t you?

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.