For some photographers, the arrival of Photoshop 2021 and Luminar AI might feel a bit like the moment Skynet became self-aware in The Terminator. Thanks to new machine learning skills, the best photo editors are no longer just tools – they’re increasingly becoming autonomous editors that stretch the definition of what a photo actually is.  

I’ve been editing photographs for a long time. To give you an idea, my idea of a good time is scrolling through screengrabs of old versions of Paint Shop Pro and fondly recalling the first time I cut-and-pasted the head of my old French teacher on the body of an elephant. Times change and now I get paid to edit photos. I shoot them myself (the fun bit), and then retouching, comping, post-production, you name it, I do that as well.

(Image credit: Future)

But while I’ve seen the likes of Photoshop get increasingly impressive over the past couple of decades, this is the year that everything changes. Today, image editing, and particularly photo editing, is a peculiar mix of personal taste, acknowledging the tastes of the outside world, and balancing the demands of the client. But the photographer or retoucher is still the conduit through which everything flows. 

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