Edit vs Retouch

So, what is the difference between edit and retouch? You may have found on photography websites different terms like “raw”, “unedited”,  “light edit”, “edited”, “retouch”, “magazine retouch”, “air brush”, “blemish removal”, or other terms. If you don’t work with photography daily, you’re probably feeling overwhelmed by all the options! I’ll take a few moments to separate these terms.

Raw or Unedited

Images that are raw or unedited are images with little to no post work or simply as they were shot in camera.

Almost every photographer edits their photo to some degree. Color correction, brightness, contrast, or other elements are a few examples. Editing can add style or artistic flare. If you’re seeing “raw” or “unedited”, you’re receiving photos with no post work. This would be unusual for professional photographers. You may be offered this option from someone who is less experienced. The word Raw in photography terms refers to a file type. A newer photographer may mean this word as in, “I’m giving you the image as I took it”.

Edited & Styling

Editing typically involves simple photo corrections or photo changes to achieve an artist flare or a particular style.

Most photographers edit any photo you see before you see it! Individuals have a hard time imaging what the image will look like with post work, so clients just see the end product. Editing can be very time consuming with adjustments to brightness, contrast, coloring, etc. Professional photography includes post work in the pricing. Some photographers spend a few hours after a session just editing! Wow!

Retouch or Air Brush

Retouching is beyond editing. This is a process that actually changes elements on the skin and body. You'll see retouching in almost all professional photography especially for show pieces and print.

Retouching involves Photoshop or other programs to manipulate an image. Basic retouch often covers removal of blemishes, soften shadow and shine, fix a few stray hairs, or other out of place details. Retouching can get complicated with such things as fixing clothing, removing braces, taking away body weight, fixing large pieces of hair, etc. Retouch is typically a service on top of a photographer’s normal process, but can be included in her or his pricing.

Retouching in Detail

Now you’re more familiar with the terms of post work, we can take a closer look at different levels of retouching. Remember, editing is a basic correction of images whereas retouching is actual photo manipulation to change the look. We are used to seeing retouched images in print, so keep this in mind when viewing your own photos!

Points to Consider

      • What do you want in your end product. Do you want something basic or more artistic?
      • Let your photographer give suggestions or explain what s/he offers in their sitting fees.
      • Worried about blemishes or acne? You’ll want to let your photographer know you’re interested in retouching.
      • Photoshop is a great tool for photographers and artists. Some of the latest apps and programs have options to enhance your photo. The best advice would be to let a professional use an artistic, detailed eye to edit and retouch your images before you display or print. Retouching is an art and skill that takes many years to master.

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