There’s a peculiar breed of photographer out there that doesn’t like retouching. For some reason they consider it “cheating”.
I have no idea why.
Every photo ever taken is a compromise
It’s the result of a set of choices you have to make on the spot. Exposure time, aperture, and ISO are the obvious ones, but there are others. Choices must be made about composition, which includes camera angle, distance from the subject, zoom and so on. All of these choices affect the resulting photo in some way. Sometimes these decision are carefully considered, sometimes there isn’t time to think, but regardless the choices get made.
And the end result, however realistic or “accurate” it maybe is rarely an adequate representation of “reality”.
Consider the photo above. It is “accurate” in so much as it shows the scene as it was. But here’s the problem: we don’t actually see things the way they are. Our eyes lie to us almost constantly. The reason I think is because the information from out eyes is processed by our brain, which you may know is also responsible for processing our emotions, and it doesn’t do a very good job of separating the two. Consequently what we see is always and without exception coloured by how we feel.
Retouched photos are akin to books and movies that are “based on a true story”