Forums > Digital Art and Retouching > The difference between "editing" and "retouching"

Photographer

Paul Byun

Posts: 221

Greensboro, North Carolina, US

Many people misuse these terms and get them all mixed up. Some may argue that these two terms mean the same thing, however they are not the same thing.

The difference between these terms may be subjective or objective. I will leave that up for you to decide.

In my knowledge, editing is a process of making a selection and organizing a set of photographs. It has nothing to do with actual manipulation that happens in Photoshop. Retouching is a correct term to describe the process of enhancing an image . Anywhere from simple color adjustments to complex compositing.

What do you guys think these terms mean?

Jun 09 10 07:24 pm Link

Photographer

ontherocks

Posts: 22605

Salem, Oregon, US

to me editing is what i do in lightroom. retouching is what i do in photoshop (or a mayhem retoucher does when i choose to outsource).

where i think it becomes an issue is during the sales process when a potential customer is comparing photographers. we retouch our shots whereas some others will say "edited" and it's actually not clear what amount of retouching (if any) that entails. one local photog advertises realtor headshots for $75 but retouching is $20 more so really the cost for something you'll want to put on your web site is $95 but he can lead with the $75 price (but are customers going to fall for that?)

Jun 09 10 07:45 pm Link

Retoucher

J Strath

Posts: 913

Los Angeles, California, US

Edit: to alter, adapt, or refine especially to bring about conformity to a standard or to suit a particular purpose.

Isn't that what retouching is?  Meh, just a lot of pretty words that all pretty much mean the same thing.

Jun 09 10 07:57 pm Link

Photographer

marknmanna

Posts: 305

Golden City, Missouri, US

Editing: Sorting photos. Dividing the "keepers" from the others.
Post-processing : manipulating and fine-tuning an image.

Jun 09 10 08:00 pm Link

Photographer

Tytaniafairy

Posts: 3884

Evansville, Indiana, US

marknmanna wrote:
Editing: Sorting photos. Dividing the "keepers" from the others.
Post-processing : manipulating and fine-tuning an image.

Jun 09 10 08:02 pm Link

Retoucher

Natalia_Taffarel

Posts: 7665

Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Jun 09 10 08:06 pm Link

Photographer

PhotoDr

Posts: 918

Arlington, Virginia, US

In magazine terms, editing is what editors do. Re-touching is what graphic artists do.

Editing is the selection process, re-touching is the fine tuning.

Jun 09 10 08:08 pm Link

Model

Sweet Adrianna

Posts: 143

BRONX, New York, US

Its all the same to me smile

Jun 09 10 08:10 pm Link

Model

Eris

Posts: 160

Dallas, Texas, US

I always thought of editing as a more in depth retouching. Retouching being slight corrections like brightness/contrast adjustment or slight complexion corrections, with editing including touch ups like editing model's size, etc.

Just my $0.02 .

Jun 09 10 08:16 pm Link

Photographer

David Richelieu

Posts: 56

London, England, United Kingdom

Yes Paul well topiced. It does rile me when people wrongly overuse the term 'editing' thinking it means the whole of post-production.

Editing is as you describe it. Then there's processing. And retouching. All wrapped up in the blanket phrase post-production. Can it really be so hard, as so many seem to find it, to even get beyond the proper use of terminology.

Jun 09 10 08:18 pm Link

Retoucher

J Strath

Posts: 913

Los Angeles, California, US

Natalia_Taffarel wrote:
It doesn't really matters

+1

Toe-mato / Tah-mato

Jun 09 10 08:20 pm Link

Photographer

Lee Andre

Posts: 106

Chelmsford, England, United Kingdom

Trancedelic Retouching wrote:

+1

Toe-mato / Tah-mato

+2

Jun 09 10 08:27 pm Link

Photographer

Digiography

Posts: 3353

Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada

Editing is selecting "keepers" or images to be retouched.

Retouching is sharpening, removing stray hairs, getting rid of zits, colour correcting a image etc....

I know this... yet I still say I'm editing a image when I do any post processing to a photo.   

I've come to terms with my incorrectness, just as calling a photographer a tog no longer bothers me.... not much bothers me anymore, I'm old and they are just words.

Jun 09 10 08:30 pm Link

Photographer

cinema photography

Posts: 4418

Mission Viejo, California, US

I was an Editor for 10 years...

did i do books or run a newspaper? No, I cut commercials.

Means different things to different people, but i think most people can express what they do as a retoucher or editor or awesome maker or whatever the new fancy term will be

Jun 09 10 08:30 pm Link

Photographer

BTHPhoto

Posts: 6815

Fairbanks, Alaska, US

ed·it 
TRANSITIVE VERB:
ed·it·ed, ed·it·ing, ed·its

   1.
         1. To prepare (written material) for publication or presentation, as by correcting, revising, or adapting.
         2. To prepare an edition of for publication: edit a collection of short stories.
         3. To modify or adapt so as to make suitable or acceptable: edited her remarks for presentation to a younger audience.
   2. To supervise the publication of (a newspaper or magazine, for example).
   3. To assemble the components of (a film or soundtrack, for example), as by cutting and splicing.
   4. To eliminate; delete: edited the best scene out.

NOUN:
    An act or instance of editing: made several last-minute edits for reasons of space.

PHRASAL VERBS:
edit in
    To insert during the course of editing: An additional scene was edited in before the show was aired.

edit out
    To delete during the course of editing: A controversial scene was edited out of the film.


The word "edit" has a meaning in the English language.  The fact that you use it only for a particular subset of that meaning doesn't mean people who use it for the whole range of its applicability are wrong.

In the end, when you hang the print on the wall, it doesn't matter whether you edited and retouched or zapped and splooged.  If the image is a good image, you done good.  If it's not, you try again.

Jun 09 10 08:54 pm Link

Photographer

Bryce Chapman

Posts: 169

Washington, North Carolina, US

Natalia_Taffarel wrote:
It doesn't really matters

Jess Marii wrote:
Its all the same to me smile

+1

Jun 09 10 11:21 pm Link

Retoucher

TS_Images

Posts: 866

Joplin, Missouri, US

Bryce Chapman wrote:

Natalia_Taffarel wrote:
It doesn't really matters

+1

Jun 09 10 11:46 pm Link

Photographer

Jerry Nemeth

Posts: 27960

Dearborn, Michigan, US

Natalia_Taffarel wrote:
It doesn't really matters

I've never thought about this either.

Jun 10 10 12:22 am Link

Photographer

Mearle

Posts: 915

Olympia, Washington, US

Pictures can be edited too. For example, take that recent picture of the activist holding a knife while the wounded Israeli soldier was being held down. Rueter's news service conveniently edited out the knife to make it appear the activists were unarmed. They were called on it and later published the uncropped image to reveal the full uncensored image.
Cropping is editing, but not retouching.

Jun 10 10 12:37 am Link

Photographer

descending chain

Posts: 1219

Fullerton, California, US

I don't see any major problems with using the more general meaning of edit.  It only matters if the person you are trying to communicate with will do the wrong thing based on their interpretation of the meaning within the jargon of their profession.  For example, I asked a film processor in India to push my film one stop, assuming they would understand what "push" means in photo lab jargon.  They did not, and ruined my film.  Turns out that they thought push meant that I wanted it expedited.  i still can't figure out how you expedite by a stop.

Jun 10 10 12:50 am Link

Photographer

MisterC

Posts: 15162

Portland, Oregon, US

Editing means, "I DON'T CARE."
Retouching means, "I CARE EVEN LESS."

Why someone would appoint themselves the
"proper-photoshop-verbage-police" is beyond me.

Jun 10 10 12:57 am Link

Makeup Artist

Solvi Strifeldt

Posts: 114

Ski, Akershus, Norway

I don't logout before I answer, but answer for/as my other account
"R E T O U  C  H I C" - #1671527

For me are simple light or colour adjusment and crop an image; editing.
Removing hair and other things and manipulation; change/move the object "physically", use filtering or blur; retouching.

Jun 10 10 01:11 am Link

Model

Jonathan Fredrick

Posts: 858

Trenton, New Jersey, US

In terms of photoshopping an image, I've always thought of editing, to be removing or adding something from the original image.  I.e. changing the background/setting, removing, an object accidentally left on set, adding an item/object into a models hand, etc.
For retouching, I've thought of it more as skin tone/smoothening, more or less exposure/lighting, taking care of red eye, etc.  More of a 'touch-up,' if you will.

Jun 10 10 01:25 am Link

Photographer

Odin Photo

Posts: 1459

Salt Lake City, Utah, US

Welcome to English, a living language defined by usage. In five years your opinions on the subject won't matter. Shizzle Nizzle.

Jun 10 10 01:26 am Link

Photographer

pellepiano

Posts: 2280

Stockholm, Stockholm, Sweden

In Photoshop there is a dropdown menu called Edit
. Thats where Content Aware stuff is,  Free Transform and other image-altering processes hide. Someone should inform Adobe smile

Jun 10 10 02:51 am Link

Photographer

Paul Brecht

Posts: 12229

Colton, California, US

Natalia_Taffarel wrote:
It doesn't really matters

Agreed...

I was @ a church event once where a speaker said:

"there are children dying in Africa", described their conditions, then he yelled out "FUCK !!!"

you can imagine the sighs, moans, grumbling, tension & confusion - quite a commotion going on in the room. Then he proceeded to explain what a sad state we are in that everyone was more concerned about him saying a colorful metaphor in church, but unconcerned about the kids dying in Africa...

Some things in life really matter, others don't. Edit being used improperly to the "industry" according to MM is very low on my priority list...

Paul

Jun 10 10 03:08 am Link

Photographer

Photons 2 Pixels Images

Posts: 16997

Berwick, Pennsylvania, US

Let's see......


re·touch
   /v. riˈtʌtʃ; n. ˈriˌtʌtʃ, riˈtʌtʃ/ Show Spelled[v. ree-tuhch; n. ree-tuhch, ree-tuhch] Show IPA
–verb (used with object)
1.
to improve with new touches, highlights, or the like; touch up or rework, as a painting or makeup.
2.
Photography . to alter (a negative or positive) after development by adding or removing lines, lightening areas, etc., with a pencil, brush, or knife.
3.
to dye, tint, or bleach (a new growth of hair) to match or blend with the color of an earlier and previously dyed growth.

–noun
4.
an added touch to a picture, painting, paint job, etc., by way of improvement or alteration.
5.
an act or instance of dyeing new growth of hair to blend with previously dyed hair.


and.....


ed·it
   /ˈɛdɪt/ Show Spelled[ed-it] Show IPA
–verb (used with object)
1.
to supervise or direct the preparation of (a newspaper, magazine, book, etc.); serve as editor of; direct the editorial policies of.
2.
to collect, prepare, and arrange (materials) for publication.
3.
to revise or correct, as a manuscript.
4.
to expunge; eliminate (often fol. by out ): The author has edited out all references to his own family.
5.
to add (usually fol. by in ).
6.
to prepare (motion-picture film, video or magnetic tape) by deleting, arranging, and splicing, by synchronizing the sound record with the film, etc.
7.
Genetics . to alter the arrangement of (genes).
8.
Computers . to modify or add to (data or text).

–noun
9.
an instance of or the work of editing: automated machinery that allows a rapid edit of incoming news.



According to these definitions, when using Photoshop it would be more appropriate to use "edit" when working on images. smile

To me, it doesn't matter. I always think of "Retouch" as being for film, though, and not for digital work on an image.

Jun 10 10 03:11 am Link

Photographer

fiona Quinn photographe

Posts: 287

Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand

I agree with you editing is selecting the pics retouching is any Photoshop work that is done.

Jun 10 10 03:14 am Link

Photographer

Sean Baker Photo

Posts: 8036

Silver Spring, Maryland, US

If you really believe there is an important distinction, I suggest you stipulate in all your contracts that you will edit all of the photos taken for the client.

I for one won't be doing so, as I recognize that the meanings of words change in the public consciousness.

Jun 10 10 03:29 am Link

Retoucher

Natalia_Taffarel

Posts: 7665

Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina

SRB Photo wrote:
If you really believe there is an important distinction, I suggest you stipulate in all your contracts that you will edit all of the photos taken for the client.

I for one won't be doing so, as I recognize that the meanings of words change in the public consciousness.

Exactly. Professionals I respect have very specific wording in their contracts. Trying to nail a client with ambiguous wording is not  professional I would respect.

x

Jun 10 10 08:21 am Link

Photographer

Stanmore

Posts: 253

London, England, United Kingdom

Paul Byun wrote:
Many people misuse these terms and get them all mixed up. Some may argue that these two terms mean the same thing, however they are not the same thing.

The difference between these terms may be subjective or objective. I will leave that up for you to decide.

In my knowledge, editing is a process of making a selection and organizing a set of photographs. It has nothing to do with actual manipulation that happens in Photoshop. Retouching is a correct term to describe the process of enhancing an image . Anywhere from simple color adjustments to complex compositing.

What do you guys think these terms mean?

I always take both terms to be just what you've described. Can't imagine there's any other definitions that make sense.

Jun 10 10 09:32 am Link

Photographer

Nina Lux Photography

Posts: 831

New York, New York, US

I always thought that "retouching" was used to emphasize work done on the skin, pores, blemishes, etc. The obvious imperfections and flaws of the face and/or body.

And "editing", manipulations done to enhance the overall image: saturation, curves, contrast, etc.

*shrugs*

I guess it all depends on the type of image or the subject hmm

Jun 10 10 09:39 am Link

Photographer

Carlos Occidental

Posts: 10546

Glendora, California, US

A client has fifteen 20 meg files for you to work on.  If he says, "Please edit these photos for $1000.00 (whatever the going rate is)." 

You really going to "correct" him? 
Come one.  Retouching IS editing, BY DEFINITION!

Websters:

Main Entry: 1ed·it
Pronunciation: \ˈe-dət\
Function: transitive verb
Etymology: back-formation from editor
Date: 1791
1 a : to prepare (as literary material) for publication or public presentation b : to assemble (as a moving picture or tape recording) by cutting and rearranging c : to alter, adapt, or refine especially to bring about conformity to a standard or to suit a particular purpose 
2 : to direct the publication of
3 : delete —usually used with out

— ed·it·able  \ˈe-də-tə-bəl\ adjective

Jun 10 10 09:48 am Link

Photographer

Paul Byun

Posts: 221

Greensboro, North Carolina, US

Thank you all for sharing your thoughts.

Jun 10 10 10:24 pm Link

Photographer

Rick OBanion Photo

Posts: 1351

Saint Catharines-Niagara, Ontario, Canada

Editing costs less than retouching... :p

Jun 11 10 08:14 am Link

Photographer

Leroy Dickson

Posts: 8239

Mobile, Alabama, US

If I have a paying client ask me, "Can you edit these images?" I am not going to correct their use of terminology. I'll simply retouch them, or post-process them, and collect my cash, moolah, greenbacks.

English, as with any living language, evolves/devolves quite rapidly and constantly. Deal with it.

Jun 11 10 08:23 am Link

guide forum

Photographer

Giacomo Cirrincioni

Posts: 21382

New York, New York, US

Squares and rectangles...

All retouching is editing, but not all editing is retouching.

Jun 11 10 08:31 am Link

Photographer

ontherocks

Posts: 22605

Salem, Oregon, US

this is how i think about it and how i've seen portrait photographers discuss it in their price lists but clearly from this thread there are other ways to see it.

NinaLux Photography wrote:
I always thought that "retouching" was used to emphasize work done on the skin, pores, blemishes, etc. The obvious imperfections and flaws of the face and/or body.

And "editing", manipulations done to enhance the overall image: saturation, curves, contrast, etc.

Jun 11 10 08:37 am Link

Photographer

Le Beck Photography

Posts: 4114

Los Angeles, California, US

Editing is culling, retouching is altering the appearance of an artwork.

Culling may alter the appearance of a body of works, but not an individual piece. That's what retouching does.

Jun 11 10 10:19 am Link

Photographer

MisterC

Posts: 15162

Portland, Oregon, US

Paul Brecht wrote:
everyone was more concerned about him saying a colorful metaphor
in church, but unconcerned about the kids dying in Africa...

Shock value is lame. It's a cheap way to get attention.

But yes, potato, potauto, I don't really care. Cept "retouch" sounds odd to me.

Jun 11 10 10:19 am Link