Let's Talk About Image Editing & Retouching...

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Let's talk about image editing and retouching...


Firstly, one of my many jobs as a creative freelancer is image editing. I mainly work with wedding photos and travel images but have recently noticed the want to change my own personal photos that I take.

I have always been against image re-touching in magazines and mainstream media as it is shared and seen more often than any of my own images or any other images that I edit, so why do I feel the need to alter my images in any way?

Here I will show you a few examples of before and after images that I have edited.


The image above is a completely unedited photo that I took in my room with natural lighting. As you can see, I have many spots, I have a curve in the back of my neck (because I have awful posture) and if you saw a full-length image, you would see that I'm not the slimmest person you've ever met.


Now, the above image is classed as 'image editing' because no re-touching has been done. And if you were wondering, yes there is a difference between image editing and image retouching. Image editing consists of changing the colour, temperature, highlights, shadows etc, etc; no actual body/face alterations in any way. As you can see, I've brought the exposure up, applied a preset (which is a bit like a filter on Instagram), rotated the image a little to make it straighter and have highlighted the edges of the image for a brighter and cleaner background.


Now, this image is a whole new kettle of fish. THIS is image retouching. As you can see, no spots, I've made myself seem slimmer by 'tucking in' my chin and I've even gone to the lengths of taking the small bump out of my nose (which I'm sure I got from somersaulting off my bike down a hill once...). I've even taken out that bump out from the back of my neck.

The two images are very different, but only one is really what I look like. I haven't published the above images anywhere other than this blog post, and I don't think I ever would publish the last image anywhere, not even on Instagram. It's such an altered image, and if anyone I knew saw that, they would know that something was fishy and I would never want to promote such extensive retouching as I know how much it affects users on social media.

The next series of images take the question of image retouching to a similar level, although not as extensive. 


The above image is the raw image taken in my room (with the blinds closed) and is offset with two flash guns with a red and blue coloured gel.


This image is when I have taken the photo into Lightroom and applied the preset, brought out the reds and blues and did some minor adjustments to the exposure and colour. Again, no re-touching in this photo, just basic image editing.


 In the above photo, you can see that miraculously my spots have once again disappeared and my skin seems a lot smoother and even. The only difference between this photo and the end image of the last series of photos is that I have made no physical alterations to my face; I haven't made it seem slimmer, or widened my eyes or anything like that.

In terms of retouching, are any of these 'end result' images acceptable? Should we allow people to retouch their images, especially if it is seen in widespread media? It's an interesting topic and one that I have been thinking about quite a lot recently. I would love to hear your thoughts and comments on this issue! Leave a comment below and let me know!

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