I'm working on the tag wikis for our most popular tags, and wrote a description for . When I got down to , though, I found that basically the same description had already been written for that tag.

I wrote:

Post-processing is the process (and art) of adjusting a previously-captured image to obtain a desired look. It encompasses everything from simple whole-image adjustments to detailed per-pixel touch-up work.

and then I found:

Photographic editing is the process of reworking an original photo, either produced by film or digital, to create the artistic vision of the photographer.

Should these tags be merged? Or, is there some distinction that we should emphasize?

Update: I was all set to accept Stan's answer, but then I notice that of the 54 questions tagged on the site so far, exactly one of them (Attribution in a digital print?) has the "photo editor as a job" sense. And there's one other that might apply (since it applies to my answer, but the question seems to intend it the other way) — Image processing & editing: what is an "unmanipulated" image?.

So, with that in mind, I'd really like to ditch . It appears to be inherently confusing. What if we make it map to or ?

Or just make it a synonym of and have people who meant it in the job sense choose something else.

I think this is important, because the combination of the two tags would make it our fourth-top overall tag, tied with and after , , and . Having post-processing questions split buries them much further down the list, in conflict with this:

It is my strong belief that the tags page is an essential map of what your community is, and is not, about.

Update: can someone not on the reject list fix the tag excerpt?


2 Answers 2


I'm not one of those fancy big-city photo editors, but my feeling is that "editing" has a lot more to do with photo selection and cropping than with image manipulation (contrast, burning/dodging, retouching, and so forth). That's likely where the line (if any) should be drawn -- at the division between artist and editor as separate jobs (or hats).

  • \$\begingroup\$ There's also an "image-processing" tag, FWIW. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Commented Mar 25, 2011 at 18:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ So, I think this is correct, and I think it's better to make a big distinction than to try to make a subtle divide between some photoshop operations and others. To that end, I'm going to radically alter the photo-editing tag wiki. And maybe retag some stuff. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Commented Mar 26, 2011 at 1:51

I think they are different, though the image-processing tag looks like a duplicate. The reason I think they're different is:

  1. Post-processing implies darkroom-like activities on the image. This would include sharpening, cross-processing, etc.

  2. Photo-editing implies image alteration. This would include cropping, rotating, chroma-key removal, etc.

The differences are a little subtle, I would agree, but I think they exist. My general dividing line is basically based on what would have been typically a darkroom function versus an editorial function. If that makes any sense...

  • \$\begingroup\$ Some of those — particularly rotating — get a little blurry (no pun intended) in the digital world. But the overall distinction you (and Stan) suggest seems basically good. The problem is; how to make the distinction to users of the tags? \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Commented Mar 25, 2011 at 22:58
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Also, on reflection, image-processing has, to me at least, a software sense that the others don't. It could apply to the jpeg processing algorithms in a camera's firmware, for example. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Commented Mar 25, 2011 at 23:06

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