Lounge Talk With Laz Ep. 11 Recap – Is Using Digital Photo Editing Software Deceptive?

As you all know, I’m partaking in a weekly photography challenge. Alongside sharing photos I also detail the digital photo editing software I use to perform edits. This leads to the question: is using digital photo editing software manipulative or deceptive?
Back when I served as the news editor for the Eastern Echo I scoffed at the thought of using any kind of digital photo editing software to enhance my work.
My viewpoint stemmed from my ethics as a green journalist attempting to uphold accuracy in event coverage.
I conversed with my photographer friend on how she felt about this and her opinions differed from my own.
She believed that using digital photo editing software is acceptable as photography is an art form. Why shouldn’t a photographer be able to represent their vision using photos as a medium of expression?
Looking back my stance on digital photo editing software was silly and reflected upon my inexperience as a photographer.
Once I started writing for the media relations department my viewpoint changed as I dabbled in photo edits and touch up work.

Is Using Photo Editing Software Deceptive? Short Answer: No

The goal of shooting photos is to get it as perfect as possible on the first take. Digital photo editing software should only be for touch up work or correcting mistakes made during that initial shoot.
My rule of thumb is that 95 percent of the photo should be good on that first take; the other 5 percent is through enhancements during the editing process.
Sometimes it’s necessary to remove blemishes or random objects that detract from the composition. Other times the photo itself doesn’t capture the color of the subject or composition.
As an example I performed quite a few edits to accurately portray my subject in this week’s photography challenge.

I adjusted the exposure settings because of the lens I had to use wasn’t able to capture or mitigate the light in the room. Color correction was also important as I changed the luminosity and vibrance of the subject’s blue eyes to better represent how they look. I also lowered the sharpness of the photo so the subject’s fur looked soft instead of sharp and defined, which isn’t how it looks in real life.

At the end of the day digital photo editing software should enhance the photo, not alter the viewers perception or feelings. Removing blemishes and making color adjustments serves as an enhancement, but if the photo becomes unrecognizable to the original then photo editing can be deceptive.

This is a matter of perspective though. Photography is an art form and it’s all about realizing your vision. My photographer friend has different intent for her professional photographs compared to what she creates for school, where those photos serve an artistic purpose and narrative.

If the goal is to express yourself using photography as an art form, then using destructive or transformative edits is fine. If you want to do no post processing, then processiwng the photos as .jpegs and calling it a day is fine too.
When a photo is no longer enhanced, but changed completely under the guise of reality, it’s considered deceptive or manipulative.

Laz’s Lounge Question of the Day

This subject area is highly subjective and morally ambiguous, so I would love to hear your thoughts on if using digital photo editing software is considered deceptive or not. Let me know in the comments below alongside your feedback regarding this latest episode of Lounge Talk With Laz!