What are the differences between editing and retouching?

For any wedding photography business, the processes of editing and retouching can both have a vital role to play before the finished images are returned to the happy couple. Many people feel that both of these activities are one and the same, however, each has its own unique impact on the finished product. As a general rule, editing involves making larger adjustments to an image, while retouching is all about those smaller ‘finishing touches’ that give every photo the wow factor!<


In post production, a photographer can view images on a large screen and crop it down to size, straighten the image, and carry out other activities that affect the dimensions of the photo. This is also the ideal time to adjust the properties of the photo, such as the exposure and white balance – however, there will always be the need for the photo to be taken with a professional touch in the first place. Modern photographic software can make a huge difference to photos that have already been taken, and these tools complement the skills of experienced photographers. For example, the editor may be 95% happy with an image that he or she has taken, and making small tweaks to the temperature could bring everything together to perfection.


Anyone familiar with fashion and beauty magazines will already be familiar with the processes involved in retouching – these can be carried out to remove ‘imperfections’ with the actual photo subjects, as opposed to issues with the photography. A lifestyle portrait may show a mole or group of freckles that are undesirable, and retouching can remove them from the image by blending in the colours in the surrounding area. In a group shot, there may be an item in the scene that detracts from the image, and again retouching can remove it seamlessly. If people in a photo would rather appear to be a little slimmer, this can also be achieved by a skilled photo editor, but problems can occur when people rush the process, use the wrong filter strength and end up with an unnatural photo.

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