Back in 1970, “photoshop” was accomplished at professional photography labs, and sometimes studios. It was called print enhancement, and negative retouching, and was done with felxichrome dyes, airbrushing, negative retouching, and a few other methods.
There were photographers who claimed that the use of any of these was cheating, and the only real legitimate photography was a straight print , with nothing else done to it, including burning dodging.
Some felt that any photographer who allowed this to be done was not a real photographer.
That debate raged on for years, and about the only thing that happened was the real photographers began to loose business to the “phony” photographers who could and would give customers what they demanded. Their demands were varied; some wanted more removed than others. Some wanted a “facelift”.
The photographers who offered more retouching usually had higher prices, because the work was very labor intensive. Those who offered only straight prints usually had lower prices because they sold what was called , by the lab, a machine print. Machine prints were The other prints were usually “custom” prints, or in some cases economy prints with various amounts of print enhancements.
Every time I see one of these “debates” I like to bring up George Hurrell. His work was not without print enhancement.. or not all of it, anyway. He used 8x10 negatives, which were retouched with dyes, and pencils. Besides being a master of light, he (probably his staff) was able to enhance those faces to the point that they were flawless, in many cases.
Here are links to 3 of Hurrell’s portraits of Joan Crawford. The first 2 seem to have been highly enhanced, while the last one is not. I am not sure why the last one isn‘t, but as you can see, extreme facial retouching is not something new.
As far as separate forums or sections…..
What purpose would that serve? If there was a section for “minimal”, who would be able to define minimal. If the enhancement is done by an expert, it will perhaps be impossible to tell how much was done. The problem would then arise as to what is minimal to one person is just right for another. What is excessive, how much is too much? But we already have that debate going.
I ran across this link:
Notice the comments about adding clouds, and how some photographers wanted to ban ALL forms of retouching. The only tmeline given was mid 19th century, so as we can see the debate about retouchng has been going on for some time.