I came across this post the other day. In it, a lady asked 40 editors in 25 different countries, "make me look beautiful." She sent a headshot, and just those instructions.
The results, well, some were amazing! Others were abysmal.
The exercise seemed to attain its goal, to see what beauty means throughout various cultures and how appearances and attitudes are viewed through their filters.
In viewing the sample of images that were returned, I found myself gravitating toward the more 'natural' images of this lady; where minimal touch-ups were applied. Perhaps that is simply a Western view of beauty.
Whenever I'm editing images of people, I don't want to change them, but enhance their appearance. Everyone has tiny flaws or blemishes that would otherwise distract from the whole image. It's these small details I'm interested in getting rid of, not making you look completely different! I would rather hear, "that looks great" than "that's not me"!
Some of the images featured in the post looked as though they were done by people with limited image manipulation abilities. And maybe to the un-engaged, these images could pass. Made me cringe, at any rate!
Another reason why real photographers charge what we do - experience with photo editing doesn't happen overnight. I've seen far too many people buy a shiny new camera and call themselves an 'expert photographer,' and produce shoddy images. Alternately, I've seen artists who fancy the challenge of using their iPhone to create stunning images.
This art is a lot more than just hitting the nice buttons!