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Photo Editing Vs. Photo Manipulation– The Difference

Skillfully modified visuals represent the brand’s character to develop brand name diversity. This makes photo editing and photo manipulation one of the most outsourced practices in the industry. You’ll often find individuals tossing around the terms in the industry, but it’s hard to spot the contrast.

After all, aren’t both adjustments applied to the images?

There’s a significant difference between photo editing and photo manipulation. You are at the right spot if you still need to learn the distinction. Before diving further into the details, let’s set the basics right!

What is photo editing?

Photo editing means improvising a picture with color and exposure adjustments to refine the original image. With modifications such as hues, color balance, and tone adjustments, you can stylize the photos in ways that weren’t possible with a regular camera.

In this process, the photographer can apply their unique style to enhance the RAW picture.

But you don’t need expensive software or tools to edit your images. You can get great results by boosting the brightness or shifting the white balance with any basic smartphone. The things you could do in editing are limitless. It starts with the fundamental aspects but gets advanced as you move forward.

With advanced tools currently trending in the industry, you can apply more exaggerated and accurate edits to your photos.

Best of all, there are countless ways to blend and match adjustments to get a specific look. After experimenting, you can define a unique editing style for all your photos, and the class ultimately acts as your images’ unique identifier.

The four essential elements of photo editing:

1.    Cropping

2.    White balance and color

3.    Exposure and contrast

4.    Sharpness

What is photo manipulation?

No, photo editing and photo manipulation are not the same!

Photo manipulation is the alternation of the elements that are in the photo. It could be something small like changing the color of the sky or more extensive manipulations like changing the backdrop using a background removal tool like autoRetouch.

This is where you get rid of the upsetting halos or glares, perhaps include clouds in the sky, and even narrate a different story. Any editor can do face flips to widen eyes or get better skin.

Photo manipulation requires using advanced software like Photoshop or related programs that support layers of pixel editing. Image manipulation mainly deals with upgrading boring pieces to brand-new versions or layouts.

The four essential elements of photo manipulation:

1.    Sky replacement

2.    Adding lights

3.    Dust removal

4.    Merging multiple photos

What are the differences between photo editing and photo manipulation?

Some say we should refrain from practicing photo manipulation in product photography as it might easily hoodwink buyers. However, photo manipulation opens multiple opportunities to reconstruct perfect and unimaginably attractive images.

But here’s the primary difference between photo editing and photo manipulation:

·    Photo editing improves the quality of the images, whereas photo manipulation makes modifications to the image itself– by adding or removing elements.

·    Photo editing requires simple imagery tools to fix the brightness or contrast. Since the steps are straightforward, you can do wonders for your clicks, even using smartphones. But photo manipulation brings imagination to life by using complicated software to replace the sky or smoothening the skin.

·    Anyone can try photo editing, but it requires sound knowledge and precision for photo manipulation.

·    Photo editing is fast. With AI-powered tools, you can edit your images like a pro in seconds, whereas photo manipulation can take several hours or even days. Thankfully, pretty cool AI-driven tools like autoRetouch walk in to save the day and do the manipulation in seconds.

Although one changes color while the other creates new elements, they both alter an image with creative intent.

How are photo editing and photo manipulation the same?

Even though photo editing deals with small businesses like fixing sharpness and lights, manipulation does the advanced stuff to the images. No matter the techniques, both focus on enhancing the quality of your pictures and aim to draw the attention of your viewers whether you edit or manipulate them.

But knowing the difference can mean many things, especially when talking to clients. While photo manipulation uses digital trickery, editing is more of a standard procedure.

Besides, not all photos require manipulation. It’s better to manipulate them if you wish to add subtle drama to the pictures. Before editing or manipulating the images, ensure you know what you’re trying to achieve from the photos. Be straightforward from the beginning on what you desire.

This way, you will understand the unlimited editorial possibilities while retouching your images.

Is photo manipulation deceiving?

Photo manipulation often has a bad reputation for deceiving the audience with false details in an image. However, it also opens countless doors for more creative expressions in an edit.

For instance, you want to snap your new couture collection against fairytale backdrops. But that would require you to set up a new arrangement, fix the lights, round up the costumes, and conduct a formal shoot. Tiring, right?

Instead, you could leverage photo manipulation techniques and use different elements from different pictures to merge everything and create dreamy visuals.

Photo manipulation gives you the ability to create anything you want. Rather than depending on the stuff around you, you could let your imagination flow and create something completely different.

The technique is less common among the average photographer since it involves an elite knowledge of editing programs. Once you’ve put all the tricks into play, get ready to immerse in surreal results. With that said, photo manipulation isn’t deceiving; it’s simply the editor’s or client’s preference who is creating the images.


You have already learned the differences between photo editing and photo manipulation. Both techniques alter your photo, but they give vastly different images. Photo editing is the basic adjustments to the color and saturation in a snap. On the other hand, you need photo manipulation when you want to omit, add, or alter the content in an image.