When it comes to retouching photography, I know there are various ways of thinking about this and basically two main camps: the ones that think a person should have the freedom to retouch and those that adhere to a purist notion that retouching is wrong. I suppose if the purpose of a photographic project is to reflect reality as much as possible, then to doctor or retouch a photo might be equated with lying to the audience about what transpired. Some might equivocate and say that there should be allowances made for bringing out the best lighting of an image but otherwise leave the image untouched for documentary purposes. However, it can be a slippery slope even so. How far does enhancing go before it becomes altering?
Another thought I have about the two camps of belief regarding retouching imagery has to do again with the purpose of a photographic project. Are we trying to sell something? Are we trying to use the medium as a tool for self-expression? If so, then retouching should be encourages as just another stage of the development process of an art piece or a communication piece. Adherence to strict relaying of “reality” has no more real ethical relevance at this juncture. Regarding how I would distinguish between fine art and commercial art is as follows: fine art is based on the inner vision of the artist, and commercial art is based on the needs of a client to communicate a particular message to a particular audience. Much commercial art is brilliantly executed and could even work in the fine art sphere if it were not for its purpose of function.