I don’t know where to start when discussing photo cheating and photo editing, since I don’t have a formal background in the subject matter. What I’d like to do is take a stab at answering what the pros say. One point that’s important is how they rate the quality of edits they make — their opinion (or even their review), really.
The more professional their work, the more they say photo editing is cheating. What makes the quality of a photo edited by a beginner so great is that they know the photographer’s style so well that the edit makes the image better than it would have been if they hadn’t shot it that way. So if someone asks, “Why am I doing these edits?” your answer: these edits make the image better rather than worse.
So what do the pros say?
I’ve had several emails in the last decade from experienced pros saying some pretty damning things (there are also several more recent one-on-one interviews, a few of which are referenced next to their comments):
If your editor has a background where they’ve done this before, chances are his/her camera isn’t a real SLR and/or he/she won’t be able to handle the raw data the most. If they’re using some other sort of equipment (preferably a big camera body with some sort of zoom) then they will benefit from being out in the field to capture images that will be taken at high ISO sensitivity. If you look at the photos in the previous questions, you’ll see many people have no clue as to how they edited photos. They may only have a vague idea of what’s going on and if their camera isn’t really capable of doing some of it’s most critical functions as it is, then the edits they make will almost certainly just look wrong.
David’s view of photoshop cheating:
There are a number of problems with this. First of all, I cannot believe how easily this has been accomplished. As David noted, “There are few, if any, good reasons anyone would ever try to do the most simple thing that takes the most minutes to complete.”
The people who try are almost always people with limited (and limited knowledge and skills) so their edits will usually look like what you see on screen. It’s not a good look if you aren’t looking away while they’re doing it. This is why I’m a really big fan of taking pictures while talking to people
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