Photo Editing/Retouching Ethics

As we move into editing and retouching photos, it’s important to have a discussion about the ethical issues involved.

First, what are the differences between editing and retouching:

Do You Know the Difference Between Editing and Retouching?

But the question becomes, how much editing/retouching is too much?

There is a lot of controversy sometimes around edited photos, especially if you are presenting them as a depiction of real life. Consider the famous photographs by Steve McCurry

And then of course there’s all of the controversy around what unrealistic images are doing to young people, especially girls, on social media.

Here’s a talk by one of the most famous photo editors/retouchers in the world:

This video has some great points and examples:

Your job today has two parts:

1) In a reflection document, explain your thoughts on photo retouching. What are some good things about retouching and what are some of the negative issues that it can cause? Where would you draw the line on what’s right and wrong when it comes to retouching a photo?

2) Take a high-quality portrait, ideally that you have taken, and look at it zoomed out. What imperfections do you see that could be edited or retouched? Then zoom way in and find little marks and blemishes. Tell me what you see when you zoom in. If you took all of those out, would it look better or would you feel like it was unnatural or dishonest? Why? You should have plenty of portraits to look at by now, but if you aren’t comfortable looking for flaws in those, you can use a photo of me. I have plenty of flaws to look at! Download one HERE

Hand in a document or slideshow explaining your thoughts before we move on to learning the secrets behind photo editing/retouching.

Tell Mr. Robson what's on your mind!