This is a topic I gave some thought to, when I started editing a little while ago. I do mostly wildlife/nature photography, so I’m not thinking this applies as much to portrait photography, but anyway here are my thoughts!
One thing I aim for when I’m editing is to have the photo leave the editing process looking exactly as the scene looked to me in real life. For example, you mentioned adding sunlight, and in most cases the sunlight is there. The camera just doesn’t always capture it. The creativity comes in where everyone has their different option on how a scene look to them. Or, it could depend the purpose of the photo.
Another thing I like to keep in mind, is if you have limitations when editing, you might think twice when composing a shot. Looking back on a photo, if there is a branch in the way I didn’t notice, I could remove it or go out and attempt to take the same photo again, this time better. Then again, there is always those exceptions, you know! I’ve always had trouble composing and seeing all the distractions when I out in the field, so it has helped me to know I’m going to be harder on myself.
I would just say honesty is the most important part, and everyone has their standards and what they feel comfortable with.
the feeling I am trying to convey with the image,
I really like this point, @loganlamar! I hadn’t thought of it that way!