Every once in a while, someone on scrapbook.com asks whether or not it is OK to edit photos. Should a photographer crop photos? Adjust color? Blur the background? What about removing wrinkles, or erasing pimples? Fixing crooked teeth? Adding people that weren't in the original photo? Removing 50 lbs? Where is the line?
It is an interesting question. As you might expect, there are as many opinions as there are people.
I do not heavily edit my photos. Part of the reason is because I don't have the skills or the proper equipment. I use a point and shoot camera and free photo-editing tools (Picasa), so some things (like putting myself in a setting where I haven't been, or erasing my farmer's tan) are beyond my abilities.
But even if I were able to do so, I wouldn't.
I do crop mercilessly- cropping doesn't alter what was really there, it just changes the view of it. I will take out red eye, as it wasn't really there to begin with. As for everything else, my simple rule of thumb is whether or not it is temporary. If it's a permanent/semi-permanent part of someone (like a mole, extra weight, crooked teeth, a scar), it stays. If it's temporary (a pimple, a piece of lint on someone's pants, one strand of flyaway hair on a windy day) and is distracting from an otherwise good photo, I don't feel wrong fixing it.
Here's a typical example of the photo editing I do. The photo on the left is straight from the camera. I cropped it to remove Trevor's classmates' feet. (If their faces were in the photo, I might have kept them in it, but unidentified feet do not need to stay). I also used the retouch tool to remove that tiny circle of light shining on Trevor's cheek.
What are your thoughts about photo editing? Where is your line of what is OK and what is not?