This post is not only my take on photo editing but is also a guideline informational note for models and companies that wish to work with me, for those you might want to skip 2 paragraphs down to read the info.
I remember a large BW photo print of my grandmother as a child with her sister in my parents house, taking a closer look at the beautiful portrait that was about 85 years old i noticed the photographer manually retouched certain element in the photo by using a special color brush and black and white dyes that blended almost seamlessly in the photos, looking at the some more old family portraits I was made aware of the same things, as well as the "colorized" affect photographers manually used to enhanced the photo, making a black and white image into a colored one before color film was invented.... whats my point? Photo editing is and always was a part of photography, it used to be much more limited and hard to do convincingly but now days in the digital age with great user friendly programs the possibilities are endless. If your just color correcting or retouching a skin imperfection/a hair fallen out of place or if your creating a whole new backdrop and doing intricate composite work almost every image now days could use a little adjustment to reach its perfect state.
Good photo editing is by no means necessarily a heavy one. Subtle changes to color and contrast and undetectable skin retouching while maintaining the textures of skin and materials in the shots are often the best and my favorite; It provides the image that balanced finished look while maintaning its orignal look and feel. When shooting with the intention of editing I shoot in a way that will provide me as much color and gradient information possible in the shot so then after in the post work i can take it to any direction i want. Also, I don't pay special mind to things such as a reflector or light fixture in the shot because I know they can be easily edited or cropped out and my main focus is just making sure my subject is well lit and posed, this was not how I did things in the past when i shot with the intention of going straight from film to photo print, knowing that there will be no editing I was much more careful regarding such background objects as well as camera settings and the vibrancy and contrast the specific film would provide.
It seems although most of us photographers are quite aware of all this, our clients some times are not. Numerous times I had clients look at the raw images off the camera and say: "This looks amazing it doesn't need editing it looks retouched already!" This became a problem when clients either posted and published flat unedited images or even worse tried to edit them themselves.... my god the HORROR! lol... You should see how my face cringed when I first laid my eyes on a client picture he butchered doing his little photoshop tutorial experiment and topped things of by placing my credit on the image. I have even had clients that opted to post online edited right beside unedited images from same set almost like a "before and after"! they fail to understand that only makes them look bad.... To me its like running a 40 mile Marathon and then 50 feet before u finish pulling out a lawn chair sitting down and while everyone else passes u by to the finish line u just say to yourself "I'm just gonna sit here and chill and maybe when i finish chilling I'll start running in the opposite direction" lol.
I am very conscious about my reputation as a photographer who produces the utmost high quality imagery and that's why I have a strict quality control policy to make sure what ever is put out there under my name matches the final high quality product that people come to expect from my company. Having a photo with floor showing, the edge of light stand or fan or blue tape on wall as well as skin, hair or silhouette imperfections or less then perfect cropping of the image can make a photographer look sloppy or armature, theses things can easily and quickly be edited but when left in they just "kill" the shot.
That is the reason many photographers now days do not give out any unedited images and will only provide clients with a few final edited images they chose. I provide my clients a CD with easily viewable proofs they can go threw (just like people used to look threw a contact sheet in film camera days) so they can pick the images they would want edited and printed out (instead of trying to review the 90 megabit file each of original raw image, proofs are easily browsed on any photo program).... When I say "I do not release unedited images and proofs are for the clients selection process only as a preview" that's exactly what it means. The proof as indicated on it is a VIEWING SAMPLE ONLY not to be published or posted anywhere on any medium. After choosing images to be edited client receives another CD with the high res edited images as well as 9 by 12in prints for a portfolio presentation or as a color reference for press. Editing is priced per picture depending on whats needed and agreed with client.
On a general note every image we see on an album cover or magazine layout had some level of editing, even the most gorgeous perfect 19 year old supermodels and superstar recording artists need a bit of a touch up...! so if you want to compete on that level you shouldn't cut corners. You do not need a slew of images, just a few strong HIGH IMPACT perfect ones..... its not about choosing 30 images that look almost the same with the same wardrobe and set design... that is boring and repetitive. Choosing 1-3 best images from a set is quite sufficient. Its quality not quantity. Iconic images don't come in batches they come in singles.