Photo manipulation has been a mainstream topic for some time now, mainly because of various passed in connection with its practice in specific industries.

If you are considering this technique in your advertising and product presentations or are just curious about the topic?

Let’s get started.

What is the meaning of photo manipulation?

Photo manipulation is the advanced photo editing technique of altering or transforming images to achieve a specific result. It involves a mix of photography and graphic design, where various effects transform an image into realistic, unreal art.

Pictures are manipulated for many purposes, including art, entertainment, political propaganda, promotions, and humor.

Believe it or not, the practice has been around almost as long as the art of photography. However, back then, manipulation was done by hand in during film development in darkrooms.

Film developers would manipulate negatives by lightening or washing out parts with bleach or piecing them together. Negatives could also be manipulated while still in the camera through double exposure. Photo retouching was done with ink, paint, airbrush, and scratching techniques. The rise of digital cameras and photo editing software has made manipulation easier and more advanced.

Photo manipulation vs. photo editing: What’s the difference?

Photo manipulation can easily be confused with photo editing as they both involve altering photographs in some way or the other. However, the two terms refer to two vastly different practices. The main difference between the two lies in the extent to which the original image is altered.

In photo editing, editors only adjust the photo’s color and exposure. Most of the original attributes are untouched, as the aim is to improve image quality or add style.

Photo editing is a straightforward process you can do with mobile apps or basic editing software. It is also pretty easy to learn, and you can figure it out with trial and error.

Photo manipulation, on the other hand, goes beyond the basic edits and alters reality. It is more advanced photo editing technique and requires professional software and advanced editing skills.

Additionally, image manipulation is a time-consuming and labor-intensive task. Photo editors must skillfully cut out objects, combine images, create new effects, remove blemishes and other flaws, etc.

The possibilities for manipulating photos are endless, requiring much more training to perfect.

What are the advantages of photo manipulation?

One of the main benefits of image manipulation is it allows you to communicate your message through a single image. That is why various industries use it for promotional and presentation purposes.

In the beauty and fashion industries, it helps create ideal representations of a product or model. Brands use photo retouching to highlight the traits of a product they wish to promote.

For eCommerce, image manipulation helps present products neatly and attractively. Here, manipulation can involve the removal of distracting backgrounds, shadows, etc., from product images.

Product photos must be presentable and impressive to attract the customer’s attention. That is why pictures are altered to highlight the product, its look, and its features. The most common techniques are ghost mannequins, image rendering, compositing, shadow effects, etc.

In advertising, images do much of the heavy lifting when conveying the promotional message. Advertisements on billboards, posters, online ads, etc., must convey the message in as few words as possible. So, images are altered to artistically and quickly convey the message to consumers.

Is photo manipulation illegal?

The problem with photo manipulation is that it is not always used for ethical reasons. For example, retouching images for political propaganda, smear campaigns, or to deceive people in any other way.

Image retouching is looked down upon in politics, journalism, real estate, and fashion.

In politics, doctored images are often used as propaganda to deceive people, especially before elections.

In journalism, only minor adjustments to improve image quality can be made in photographs. Any other alterations call into question the credibility of the image and the associated article. The aim here is to prevent the misrepresentations of the truth and facts.

It is common to adjust real estate photos to attract potential buyers. However, some alterations can are considered misleading in real estate marketing. For example, editing a room with limited sunlight to make it look bright and sunny.

In fashion, photo retouching is considered unethical in many parts of the world. For many years, there have been concerns about the negative effects of photo manipulation on people’s mental health. Many argued that these images promoted unrealistic body standards. That is why countries like Norway and France passed laws requiring advertisers and social media influencers to include disclaimers on retouched images.

Final thoughts

Despite the controversy, photo manipulation is still valuable for businesses, provided you don’t overdo the alterations. Unlike photo editing, it has the ability to alter the reality of your images. So, you must be careful when retouching your images.

Even if you don’t plan on publishing any altered images, you can still use this technique to sharpen your editing skills.

We hope this article has been informative and helped clear some of your doubts about photo retouching. Cheers!