Q&A: Editing vs Retouching

Question: “Are all the images edited/retouched. How is the editing different from retouching?”

I had this wonderful question in my inbox last week, which reminded me of a subject I’ve intended to blog about for quite some time: Editing vs Retouching.

The first part of my answer is yes, all delivered images will be edited, however, they will not all be retouched. This leads to the bigger question: What the heck is the different between an edited and a retouched image?

Editing

Simply put, editing means that I’m making adjustments to color, contrast, saturation, tone, brightness and shadows. In general, I edit in batches. I group similar images I photographed in the same light and and make “group adjustments.” This helps ensure that all images are cohesive and look good next to one another. And for the most part, editing is really all you need. Realistically, about 85% of my images on my website include only editing.

[click on images to enlarge]

Example of Editing vs Retouching. Original/Raw Image of a headshot. Susie Moreno Photography.
Original
Example of Editing vs Retouching. Edited Image of a headshot. Susie Moreno Photography.
Edited
Example of Editing vs Retouching. Retouched Image of a headshot. Susie Moreno Photography.
Retouched

Retouching

Retouching is more involved and time intensive. Where I can normally edit a full 8 hour wedding in 12-15 hours, it can take me an average of 20 minutes to edit one single image. To bring this to perspective, it would take me over 250 hours to retouch a full wedding. Yikes!

The reason why retouching is so time consumer is because I work on each individual image to make multiple individual adjustments. This can include, whitening teeth, brightening eyes, removing blemishes & dark circles, smoothing skin, removing stray hairs, ect. It’s a lot!

Example of Retouching vs Editing. Original/Raw Image of a wedding couple. Susie Moreno Photography
Original
Example of Retouching vs Editing. Edited Image of a wedding couple. Susie Moreno Photography
Edited
Example of Retouching vs Editing. Retouched Image of a wedding couple. Susie Moreno Photography
Retouched

What to expect: Editing vs Retouching.

You can expect your final images to be edited and color corrected so the images pop more so than straight out of the camera. In general, I strongly believe this is more than enough to get great images.

Every session also includes at least one retouched image. High School Senior Sessions include 1 complimentary retouched image for the yearbook. Engagement sessions and Weddings will receive 1-2 complimentary retouched images to be used for their Save the Dates or Thank You cards.

Example of Editing vs Retouching. Original/RAW Image of a high school senior. Susie Moreno Photography
Example of Editing. Edited Image of a high school senior. Susie Moreno Photography
Edited
Example of Retouching. Retouched Image of a high school senior. Susie Moreno Photography
Retouched

You can also expect that every image in an album or any print image ordered via your personal image gallery to include some minor complimentary retouching. Retouching will also be included if you order anything larger than an 8×10 from your print gallery.

Quick note: I tend to fall in love with images and randomly retouched a few images just because. So in general, you’ll likely receive a few additional complimentary retouched images in your final delivery.

When I do Recommend Retouching.

I highly recommend retouching any image that you plan on printing wall size or larger, especially if it’s a headshot. I consider anything over an 8×10 wall size. For seniors, I recommend retouching your yearbook picture because it’s something that’s will normally outlive us.

Final Thoughts

Editing really makes photographs more eye catching, and in general, will be more than enough to provide high quality imagery that you can be proud of and cherish for a lifetime. However, if you’re looking for a more personalized and stylized approach, retouching can help turn a great image into something very pristine. Both have their spaces in photography, but neither can make a bad picture into a good one.

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