How much editing of a photo is acceptable? Does excessive editing spoil a photo? I sometimes feel like I edit my photos too much and that can mar its beauty. However many viewers have commented that it still looks good, even after I think it may have been too much editing.

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    Hi KayD. Although it is an interesting discussion question, questions like this aren't suitable for this particular photography site. But please stick around and read the FAQ and ask and answer other questions! – Paul Cezanne Jun 19 '13 at 17:16
  • This is extremely open-ended. Is there something specific about your editing that you're worried is too much? I don't see how a more broad case can be reasonably answered. – John Cavan Jun 19 '13 at 17:56
  • I touched up the question a bit, for grammar and slang, but I still think it's way too general. – John Cavan Jun 19 '13 at 18:00

Photography is an artistic field. A photo can be ruined by either too much or not enough manipulation. Sometimes a photo can be manipulated to the point it is barely recognizable as a photo, but if it fills the artists vision, it is still photography. There isn't a right or wrong amount of editing, but how much you can get away with depends largely on the skill of the artist.

There are purist schools of thought that look for remarkable images shot through the lens with minimal alteration, but that doesn't mean that schools of thought that the actual photo is just the start of the artistic process are wrong either. The truth is that both are valid and both provide a lot of value to the artistic field of photography.


First, what is a click?

Now, how much editing is acceptable depends on the type of image and what it is being used for. Photojournalists will often say that even arranging things in a scene before an image is taken is too much editing, never mind post processing (I've heard National Geographic requires RAW files to be submitted along with the developed images to ensure the integrity). In these cases most global adjustments are okay (exposure, for example), but things like the clone stamp or healing brush are not.

However, for pretty much anything that uses a model, particularly female models, it seems that there is no limit on what is acceptable. And certainly if you're creating something surreal, like a post-apocalyptic times square in NY, then that will take a lot of editing as well.

Also consider that most everyone considers a half decent picture to be AMAZING because they really don't know what they're looking at or don't know what to look for. If you want real critiques of your work ask other photographers or artists that know what good and bad really looks like and can tell you where you fall.

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    Our friends from India use the term "click" a fair bit and, by that, they mean the same as us using "shot" or similar. Basically, just the image in regional slang. – John Cavan Jun 19 '13 at 17:56

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