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Editing and retouching are crucial parts of post-processing. But whilst the terms are widely used there can be ambiguity over exactly what is involved.

As a client it is important to know exactly what you are paying for and so in this post I am going to provide an overview to help you better understand each process, the work involved and what exactly is being done to your images.


The word “editing” is used broadly – sometimes correctly, but often not. In its simplest form, consider editing to be the essential changes that are applied to every photo to take it from its raw form to something that is aesthetically pleasant.

I perform basic editing on all of my images to generate a proof. This enables my clients to see a visually representative (but not necessarily finished) version of each photograph so that they can decide which ones they would like as their final selections.

Examples of the type of changes that take place during the editing phase include:

  • Exposure, contrast and tone adjustments

  • Correcting the white balance / colour temperature

  • Hue, luminance and vibrancy colour adjustments

  • Sharpening

  • Noise reduction

  • Cropping and straightening

Bear in mind that editing also involves the culling process – whittling down hundreds of photos from a single session to a few dozen proofs. This in itself can be one of the most time-consuming aspects.


With a set of edited proofs to select your favourites from I can proceed to retouching. This is an optional but highly recommended step that helps take your images to the next level.

It is most commonly associated with portrait and branding photography and involves applying targeted adjustments. Retouching is most often conducted in line with my own judgement and experience but also in conversation with the client if there is something specific they want me to work on.

Think of retouching as fine tuning an image to make it look its very best. Examples of retouching work include:

  • Removing stray / frizzy hair

  • Enhancing details in eyebrows, lips, eyes

  • Teeth whitening

  • Removal of distracting objects, e.g. wrinkles in cloths, reflections, etc.

  • Skin blemish correction

On an image by image basis, retouching generally takes more time than editing because the changes involved are local, unique and require a greater skillset.


I hope that helps clarify the difference between the two processes. If you have any questions about post-processing then do not hesitate to get in touch.

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