What’s the Difference Between Editing and Retouching?

What’s the Difference Between Editing and Retouching?

“Can you crop that in a little tighter?”

“My son has acne. You can retouch that, right?”

As a photographer, I’m always striving to capture moments where everyone looks their best. But in reality, all it takes is a slight breeze or distracted toddler to throw off the perfect shot. Thankfully, modern technology offers a variety of tools to bounce back from these fleeting moments, ensuring the memories you’re looking for me to capture are ones you can treasure for a lifetime.

But photography jargon can be confusing. If you have a specific request, what words should you use?

Editing and retouching are similar-yet-different tools I use to create the most visually captivating results for my clients:


This is a broad term encompassing various techniques to enhance digital images, inclusive of cropping, color correcting, adjustment of lighting/exposure and saturation. The goal is to improve an image’s overall look, making it as visually appealing as possible. Depending on the shoot, editing a photo can take anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes but can make an impressive impact. For example, in the shot below, you can see how I adjusted lighting, color correcting, and saturation:



Sometimes, basic editing is not enough. Retouching involves a more specialized technique, making more detailed adjustments such as enhancing specific areas or removing imperfections. This is the process I use when someone requests things such as brighter teeth or eyes, smoother skin tone, removed blemishes or the removal of distracting objects. Unlike the seconds it could take for a more standard edit, retouching can take 10 minutes or more, again depending on the task at hand. In the following shot, I’ve removed the flyaway hair in her face, as well as the blemishes.  I’ve also smoothed out the skin a bit, and brightened hair highlights, and eyes.  



Does either come with my shoot?

Yes! Standard editing always comes with your gallery – my job is to make those adjustments and I love using these tools to elevate our shoot. While it can vary, retouching most often will require additional costs. That said, if those enhancements make you happier with the overall result, it’s absolutely worth the time, effort and spend! Always happy to answer questions and talk through any feedback you may have.  Feel free to contact me at any time.