What Is Photo Retouching And Why It Is More Than Average Image Editing?

Though photo editing covers a vast range, retouching is one of its top portions because of its magical power to convert dull photographs into alluring images. 

In simple words, photo retouching is a process of improving the appearance of images. It can be said that it is “the art of polishing images” as well. In the retouching process, professionals remove unwanted objects in photos, refine the color, and fix other issues. Thus, the look of images becomes better and more attractive. 

In this blog post, we will especially cover the origin of photo retouching, its dissimilarity with editing, and why you need a professional retoucher to do the work.

A Brief History Of Photo Retouching

Like photography, the history of image retouching is rich and well-aged. The world’s first photograph was taken in 1826, while image modification began in 1860.

In the beginning era of photo enhancement, professionals applied the process in darkrooms. It was like a surgical process where they used diverse chemicals and tools. The darkroom technique was active until the 20th century. 

Most studios offered photo enhancement services at that time. However, modern technology quickly occupied the industry. In 1988, Photoshop was introduced by Adobe, a revolutionary image editing tool ever designed. 

It made the photo improvement process faster and more accurate. This year is also the end of the darkroom editing technique. Adobe Photoshop is the most effective tool used to edit and improve images. 

Distinctions Between Photo Retouching And Editing

Retouching is a part of photo editing, which requires particular skill and experience. The chart below defines the basic differences between these two areas of expertise.

PointsPhoto EditingPhoto Retouching
FocusPhoto editors focus on modifying the overall formation and look of the image. Photo retouchers highly focus on beautifying photos and removing imperfections.
Common techniquesCropping, color correction, exposure adjustment, etc.Background removal, skin smoothing, teeth whitening, etc.
Software usedAdobe Photoshop, Lightroom, GIMP, etc.The same tools are also used in photo retouching.
Applications Photo editing is required in professional photography, advertising, and creative projects.Photo retouching is particularly needed in the fashion, beauty, and cosmetic industries.

Why Is Photo Retouching Used In Various Sectors?

Why Is Photo Retouching Used In Various Sectors

Retouching is one kind of advanced modification of images. This method is globally used to make photographs look better. Here is why retouching is used for:

Better presentation of product image:

Photo retouching is a high-demand service for most online businesses. It enhances the product photo quality, which is inevitable for e-commerce websites. After the retouching process, product images look more appealing and professional to attract potential buyers online. 

Improving visual effect:

While taking photographs, maintaining all standards may not be possible. Retouching is the technique to correct those inaccuracies. It makes even dull photos more eye-catching. Professional retouchers adjust contrast to give a photo’s best possible appearance. They also remove reflections from the shiny surface of products.

Removing unwanted elements:

Annoying objects often come in photographs naturally or unintentionally. Photo retouching can permanently hide or remove them from images. Also, it enhances the fine detail of the target subject in the photograph. Such advanced editing is ideal to impress clients and grow their interest.  

Old / damaged photo restoration:

Retouching is a blessing technology to restore old photos. It can effectively improve very old photos which have deteriorated badly. No matter whether the photo has lost its original color, torn or disfigured, retouching is the specialized method to revive it. 

What Techniques Are Included In Photo Retouching?

Many people are curious to know which processes are applied in photo retouching. To be honest, dozens of techniques can be required to extract the best look of a photo. But the common techniques used are below:

1. Color correction: Retouchers rework to achieve the finest color balance, so photos look more natural. 

2. Background removal: They erase the photograph’s background, and the surrounding of the subject becomes transparent.  

3. Resizing: It is a process of adjusting the image size, including the aspect ratio and resolution. 

4. Spot healing: This technique helps dismiss minor imperfections from an individual’s face and body in the photo, like scars, acne, etc. 

5. Frequency separation: Retouchers apply this method to adjust skin texture so they do not look excessively sharp or blurry. 

6. Dodge & burn: It is a contrast enhancement technique that includes brightening and darkening specific parts of photos to highlight details.

7. Cloning: This technique is used to duplicate or remove pixels from one part of the image to another. 

Who Needs Photo Retouching Services?

Nowadays, you rarely find a business that has never used image retouching. If you particularly want to know who is the best match for the service, here is the list below.  


Retouching service is generally offered for commercial purposes. However, they are now widely used for individual photo enhancement. People who do mobile photography even hire retouchers to polish their clicks. The need for personal photo enhancement is more than ever in recent years. Blemish removal, skin tone adjustment, and fine-tuning brightness are in high demand for personal retouching requirements. 


No wonder that retouching is a frequent need for professional photographers. They need this service to boost photo quality and make them more visually appealing. Retouching works that photographers mostly require include correcting lighting problems, eliminating unwanted objects, and overall giving the photos a professional appearance.  

E-commerce businesses: 

High-quality photos of products are mandatory for ecommerce success as they boost sales. That’s why online businesses frequently hire retouchers to enhance product photo quality. Along with making those images attractive, the aim here is to highlight the fine detail of products. It is a great strategy that lets customers better understand the product, which helps them make purchasing decisions. 

Magazines and advertising agencies: 

They vastly depend on photo retouching services as they need visually appealing photos. Retouchers also apply complex techniques to assemble attention-grabbing images for magazines and ad agencies. Unlike basic and medium retouching, agencies require advanced photo retouching services that cover sophisticated background and object removal, color balance improvement, and enhancement of overall image quality. 

Why Are Professional Retouchers Recommended Instead Of DIY? 

retouching services for professional photographers

You can learn photo retouching in a few hours. However, mastering this particular skill may take years. With basic retouching skills, you can quickly adjust the faults of your photographs. However, they may seem unnatural and overedited. Retouching photos yourself can ruin the natural look of the subject on an image, which can bring the opposite result. 

Professional retouchers are highly trained and can effectively detect the weakness of a photo and retouch it accordingly. This process includes skin smoothing, color correcting, and cloning, which requires a vast knowledge of image editing. Even the retouching process differs depending on the business industry, which also needs an understanding of those genres. 

Retouching is not about quickly editing and enhancing image quality. It combines particular skills and knowledge achieved over years of practice. When professional retouching is applied, you get alluring images with outstanding details without destroying the natural beauty of the subject. 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can you retouch your clicked photographs? 

You can do the retouching work yourself. But it has a high risk of overediting that results in making the subject look artificial.

2. Does the retouching technique fix blurry photos? 

Yes, the service includes fixing blurry photos, which will enhance each detail of the photograph. 

3. Is photo retouching service costly?

The cost can differ depending on which type of retouching it is. Basic retouching generally costs little. In contrast, advanced retouching can be expensive as it needs more work. 

Final Words

Photo retouching is a valuable skill that involves a refined photo enhancement process. The skill aims to polish ordinary photos and convert them into jaw-dropping images. Photo retouching is a crucial service for most online-based businesses as they need visually appealing product photos to attract customers. Though affordable software and tools are available to retouch your photos, creative retouchers with different industry knowledge are still the game changers. They can provide you with better results than your expectations. 

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