“Photoshopped” images have become a sensitive topic for some people. Debates are here and there whether edited photos are really a necessity. People against the practice claim that pictures altered to look “better” are harmful to society because the “lie” to the audience and people might feel insecure and pressured by the unrealistic beauty standards that an edited photo might set.   Public figures have also spoken both in favor and against post-processed photographs. However, the industry of image alterations is not slowing down. Free retouching apps are all over the internet, andprofessional picture retouching services can be used for commercial photos.

You must understand that there is a difference between photo editing and photo retouching.

Editing

The difference of editing and retouching varies from one photographer to another, but the common definition would be the basic process of cropping, adjusting exposure, brightness, colors, sharpness, and all other minor elements that would improve a picture’s quality. Editing takes a couple of seconds up to a few minutes.

Retouching

Retouching is a process of editing that deals with more obvious changes to the picture’s subject and background, if necessary. “Airbrushing” is another term for retouching photos.

The portraits of models you see in magazines and the internet are all retouched. Skin texture, complexion, and tone are all enhanced in commercially published photographs. Scars and skin imperfections are removed and body proportions may be changed. Using filters is a form of photo retouching, something that is commonly done by social media users.

Removing unnecessary elements in the background or on the subjects themselves can also be considered retouching. Comical “photo bombers”, unsightly objects, and all other unwanted and unplanned details in a photograph can be taken away by photo retouching experts.

The Purposes and Importance

photo editing concept

Apart from the obvious objective of making the subject look better, there are more reasons it’s essential to post-process photographs. Aside from people, companies benefit from having enhanced product photos online and in print.

Colors may not appear as they should when they aren’t edited. Lighting, perspective, environment, and camera settings affect the colors in a photograph, so it’s important to make adjustments in order to make the colors appear as close to real life as possible.

Background removal or clipping path is important to clean up pictures that may accidentally have unwanted elements in the background or on the subjects. You don’t want to advertise clothes with obvious specks of dust, hair, or dirt. Removing a background completely is called image-masking, and this is necessary for subjects which may contain a lot of fur or hair.

For clothing retailers, a model is not always used to present the clothes. In this case, ghost mannequin or neck joint technique is used. It removes the mannequin in the picture, so that the clothes alone would be visible to the customer.

Small subjects such as jewelry can look more aesthetically appealing with shadow creation. It basically gives more dimension to the product and makes it look more realistic. Old photos, such as those from before colored photography existed, can be restored and made good as new again. Restored photographs of your ancestors can be a good addition to your collection of family portraits.

Companies can also show off their products in a unique and playful way through photo manipulation. Through this, they can make something bizarre out of ordinary product photos that would drive more traffic to their websites and bring more attention to their brand.

Bearing in mind all of those, we can gain a wider perspective on why editing and retouching photos are a necessity to many. While it’s true that constantly seeing models in perfect forms and facial features may trigger some insecurity, it’s important to remember that their photos don’t always portray what they look like in real life. They are all human beings, too, with imperfections or flaws. It would be wise for us to see and understand that edited and retouched photos aren’t only for a model’s or actor’s benefit.