How Much is TOO Much Editing?

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How Much is TOO Much


Is There Such Thing as TOO MUCH Editing?

Have you ever wondered where the line is between photography and other forms of art?

As a photographer, you most likely if not always spend some time editing your photos after taking them. But is there a limit to how much editing you should do before it is no longer considered “photography”?

This visual discussion from Teo Crawford asks some thoughtful and thought provoking questions about photography, its definition, origins, process and value as an art form.

Is there a boundary in photography?

You would have your editing software, the presets and settings you like to use, and have a unique and personal way of editing your photos to make them match the vision you have in mind for that piece. 

You may even edit heavily, altering the images far away from what the original reality was when the photo was taken. Or you might try to leave the photos alone and simply do minor touch ups. 

Edited photo

Some critics have the opinion that certain photos should not be considered photography when the images are edited to a certain degree. That at some point, the artwork is altered so much so that it fails to be a ‘photo’ as such and therefore loses artistic value from a photography point of view. 

You may have even see some of this art and thought it was just a cool digital artwork, maybe not realizing that it was a photograph to begin with.

This discussion begs the questions: 

Does a heavy amount of editing eventually change the type of art that is being created?

Should they be categorized as paintings, or digital art and not photography?

Where is the line of an artwork being photography, and who draws that line?

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Any Editing is Too much editing – Purist View

Capturing purely what is in front of the camera, what the photographer sees. No alteration of the view originally captured. In this view, editing is alteration of the reality. But, in this point of view, what is the purpose that photography is trying to achieve? 

A well known poet, essayist and art critic Charles Baudelaire ctitiqued photography only a few decades after the invention of the camera, as lacking depth and ‘poetry’ to the art form. It’s important to note however that photos back in those days, cameras and therefore photography were limited in what could be produced.

Nowadays, with high resolution, lenses, filters, and editing create super clear and colourful images. 

Digital Photography and Editing – Has it Gone Too Far?

Throughout the progression of the camera to digital camera, the questions have still been asked: What counts as photography? Is it an art form with artistic value?

With the development of the digital camera came a new era for editing, Lightroom, photoshop and more.

Moreso these days, a general amount of editing and touch up is considered a normal part of the process of photography. 

But what about when object removal, object additions, texturing, and more types of photo adjustments occur? These elements are a part of the development of digital photography, but you might wonder if that makes them less photography and more another form of art, and if there is a line somewhere.

Digital photo editing

Where is the line between photography and other art forms?

There must be a boundary somewhere within the editing sphere. Too many times people consider the black and white terms of an edited photo and not edited photo. But do non edited photos actually exist? The only pure form of a photograph is a raw image file, as camera settings to even shoot in jpeg take slightly edited photos. 

Raw files usually look awful because they include as much information as possible through the lens in order to have as much variety for editing later.

Film photography is similar, the photographs are still edited in the digitalizing process of scanning. 

No one is posting or printing raw photos. There is editing at some point in all photography.

Does editing take away the value of the art form, simply because it changes it and possibly makes it a far fetched and abstract version of the original? 

Teo believes that pictures taken at photography count as photography. The photo taken provides the base to start from before adding other elements for creating the artwork.

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How Much Editing is TOO Much? We May Never Know.

Guess What? Photography doesn’t need to be defined.

You should take in other artists work with open minds to appreciate and even learn from or be inspired by, not limit what is or isn’t art or photography by your limited standards.

You can open your mind to freely accept others art and be drawn into new ways of visually producing artwork through the camera lens. Maybe you will even find out more about your creativity by “over-editing”!

Your creative process is your creative process.

What is one point you can apply to your creative process TODAY?

Let us know in the comments below.

And if you want to know more about editing photos, check out these other tutorials!

Editing Landscapes in Lightroom

Edit Along With Me – Free RAW Files!

How to Edit Portraits in Lightroom

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