Is It Cheating To Use Photoshop?

In between blog posts of recent weddings and other photo stories I try and provide some 'behind the scenes' look at what I (and a lot of other wedding photographers) go through after the wedding day. I've written before that this is where photographers spend most of their working time, at the computer. The guests on the wedding day only see you for that one day, but there are often weeks of work afterwards to make the images what they are.

The question raised in this video is 'is it cheating to use Photoshop?'. It's a piece of software that has been around for years and is often referred to when changing an image, i.e. by removing distracting objects, adding three images to make one complete image (composite) etc...

Should a photographer be allowed to change the scene at their discretion? Would a client be happy that it was done, or would they even notice? I think it's fair to say that when it's not noticeable then it's been 'Photoshopped' well. But should we make the best of what's available on the day and show it for what it really was, the good and the bad?

In this video I show you how I edited this wedding image. I change the overall exposure and colours of the image and then progress into Photoshop to remove objects that I found distracting, attempting to produce a simpler image that focuses on the couple. Do you think that the bride and groom, or any viewer of the photo, would notice what was changed? Looking at the below screenshot, can you tell what has been amended?

To be upfront about what I like, I have little interest in using Photoshop to add/remove people, substitute the sky or change body shape. I think that you get the best you can out of the camera in your hands and use software to just enhance the photo. A quick Google search will show 1000s of examples of really good Photoshop images, but it's just not my thing. Part of the enjoyment of photography is the fun in getting the image in the first place, not creating one at the desktop.

What do you think? Would you be happy if your wedding images were changed, just a little or dramatically? What is too much?

I always try and keep photos realistic, and stay away from photo editing trends. I want to show moments as if they were seen through the eye at that moment. But then I love black and white edits, which obviously we don't see, so what do I know!