The fact is (as you know) you can't turn a cow's ear into a silk purse.
Photographers, (well, at least this photographer) tend to be somewhat more prosaic. And in photographic terms, we (I) often strive to polish up turds. The irony of course is that many turds end up being praised and liked by thousands on the great interwebby thingy. Even in Galleries where you'd think they'd know better. Some people have paid kazillions for turds. Fashion, that devil, has a lot to answer for, its tentacles weaving their way into the photographic aesthetic as they do in every walk of life. No one is immune.
I thought I once looked great in my mullet/shades/jeans/heels/whatever. And in ten years I'll look back on today and probably wince. Same goes for photographs. Your photographs. My photographs. Especially in this Instagrammy age. You see, we can't help meddling. Trying to improve things using HDR and all manner of techy tips and effects. We should know better. We actually DO know better. But we still end up being seduced into polishing hopeless turds.
I won't give examples. Oh ok, I will... But I won't show them. I'll give one example only. Think of the thousands of pictures where the child/girl/woman/dog/cat/bird/bride's eyes are in a vivid colour and the rest of the picture is a monochrome. Arty. If you are thinking of doing this, STOP - and step away from the computer.
But then again (and this is where the seduction to meddle comes in) most any picture straight from the camera is pants. It needs work. It needs your expert artistic eye. In short it needs meddling with.
And in truth, sometimes an unpromising picture can be transformed into an okayish kind of picture. A great picture, (and here's the real gem of an idea to take note of) a really good shot, doesn't need much work at all... And that's what we as photographers should strive for. That great shot. In the meantime, meddle away to your hearts content. But be aware you might be blushing in a few years time...
Original out-of-camera turd at top, polished 'masterpiece' below.