After my first steps in “real” photography where I went crazy with shallow depth of field, which I nearly used, to death and some great experiences with different formats especially medium format I discovered post processing.
There has always been more or less post processing. Photographers in their dark rooms where fiddling with different techniques, additives and utilities. One of the great American landscapes photographers Ansel Adams would have been delighted to have Photoshop and all its different possibilities – at least in my opinion. There are always different camps in between the purists and the extreme who will stop at nothing. In the end I think it doesn’t matter - the final product should speak for itself.
From the beginning of postproduction up to the present there have been many improvements in the different soft ware packs. It’s getting easier and easier and some are already of the mind that they just will take whatever, however they get the images and fix it later. If you are an amateur and shoot once in a while that seems to be not so bad, but if you are shooting a lot and especially professional for a client you might sit longer at the computer than shooting.
Nevertheless post processing is more or less essential in different forms of photography. Fashion photography is one. There are the cases of picture editing and picture manipulation. The last has been in the media a lot. Fashion magazines did excessive image manipulation and extreme processing. Surely you would have read about it as well.
On the other hand there is as mentioned picture editing where you can remove pimples, have glare on the forehead removed and may be smoothing the wrinkles in a decent way. Here you can surely go over the border as well. Some skins are looking quite like plastic.
The Internet is full of different approaches to find as well something more natural, beginning with the right light and good techniques to clean the skin naturally. Good sources are photographers as Lee Varis, Sue Bryce, Joe Buissink, Scott Kelby and surely many more.
Here is another of my images from the series “The Lady in Red”.