I think there are important differences between photo editing and photo manipulation.
Editing photographs is a selection process during our workflow. As photographers, I think we edit our photographs constantly, and our editing process starts before we reach for our cameras. For example, because cameras are incorporated into our phones, we have the ability to make pictures constantly. But we don’t because we edit what we constantly see into things that would make an interesting photograph. In other words, we’re selective with what we photograph.
As soon as we pick up the camera, our editing happens regarding camera operation—framing and content, controlling tonality, focusing, and metering. There’s more to camera operation than I mentioned, but the point is camera operation involves editing.
And, of course, there’s the editing that happens after image production. Things like file conversions, film development, and during output/reproduction color correction, controlling tonality, cropping, enlarging, display, etc.
Photo manipulation is a process that alters or transforms a photograph. Depending on the circumstances, photomanipulation is considered unethical, especially if the manipulation is intended to deceive.
We manipulate our photographs during the creation of the photograph by arranging things. For example, if we pose people during portraits or events or if we arrange objects in our photographs.
We can manipulate photographs during post-production. This usually involves manipulation with editing software or manipulation during the printing process.
Photo Editing Versus Photo Manipulation
While editing seems to be a base process related to what we go through continuously during our process as a photographer, photo manipulation, on the other hand, seems to be something additional we can ethically or unethically incorporate into the creation of a photograph.
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