Insta-famous photographer fesses up that his ‘photographs’ are all AI generated

Feb 22, 2023

Alex Baker

Alex Baker is a portrait and lifestyle driven photographer based in Valencia, Spain. She works on a range of projects from commercial to fine art and has had work featured in publications such as The Daily Mail, Conde Nast Traveller and El Mundo, and has exhibited work across Europe

Feb 22, 2023

Alex Baker

Alex Baker is a portrait and lifestyle driven photographer based in Valencia, Spain. She works on a range of projects from commercial to fine art and has had work featured in publications such as The Daily Mail, Conde Nast Traveller and El Mundo, and has exhibited work across Europe

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Insta-famous photographer fesses up that his 'photographs' are all AI generated

To look at Jos Avery‘s Instagram account is to be greeted by a sea of beautiful portrait photographs staring right back at you. The sheer number and variety is staggering, and his 27K+ followers seem to agree, often asking for tips and tricks to emulate the photographer they hold in esteem.

Except that there is one issue. Namely that none of these ‘photos’ were taken with a camera. Avery has recently ‘come out’ and admitted that all of them were created using Midjourney, an AI image generator.

To the eagle eye, it’s almost obvious that these are not photographs. AI generated images, particularly those created in Midjourney, still have a particular ‘look’ to them. These are no exception. However, to most people, they are indistinguishable from the real thing. Avery has even made up stories to accompany each image to give insight as to who the people are.

“[My Instagram account] has blown up to nearly 12K followers since October, more than I expected,” Avery says to Ars Technica. “Because it is where I post AI-generated, human-finished portraits. Probably 95%+ of the followers don’t realize. I’d like to come clean.”

However, Avery insists that these images are still art, just produced in a different way. After generating thousands of images in Midjourney, the best are selected and then put through editing in both Lightroom and Photoshop.

Avery admits that he was initially an “AI-skeptic” and began the Instagram account as an experiment. “I am honestly conflicted,” Avery says. “My original aim was to fool people to showcase AI and then write an article about it. But now, it has become an artistic outlet. My views have changed.”

Many of Avery’s followers have clearly been taken in by the deception, many of whom have asked which camera settings and camera equipment he used to shoot the images. Avery remained vague in answering these questions. It remains to be seen whether he will face backlash from his followers.

However, Avery admits that he himself is at a creative crossroads, not really knowing which way to turn. “Frankly, I’m not entirely sure how to proceed,” Avery tells Ars. “The Instagram response has taken me off guard. Flushing 15K followers is not easy to do. The end art product resonates with people.”

It’s a conundrum many artists are facing, with those using AI within their work receiving pushback from more ‘traditional’ artists. It’s certainly an interesting time to be an artist. I believe that we should view AI as another tool to be used to realsie our creative expression. It should not do all the heavy lifting, nor should it be passed off as photography or any other hand-made medium.

Just last month, an AI generated image won a photography competition. I believe that it is in all of our best interests to be 100% transparent and honest about how we create our work and what tools we are using.

These just don’t look real to me. Would you have been fooled?

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Alex Baker

Alex Baker

Alex Baker is a portrait and lifestyle driven photographer based in Valencia, Spain. She works on a range of projects from commercial to fine art and has had work featured in publications such as The Daily Mail, Conde Nast Traveller and El Mundo, and has exhibited work across Europe

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16 responses to “Insta-famous photographer fesses up that his ‘photographs’ are all AI generated”

  1. Human Who Wants to Know Avatar
    Human Who Wants to Know

    Please explain the certain “look” of AI generated images *). In hindsight, everyone knew better. Or with a well known bonmot: “The art of prophecy is very difficult, especially with respect to the future.

    *) No cases of superfluous extremities in Jos Avery‘s image stream. At least not to my knowledge.

  2. John Beatty Avatar
    John Beatty

    I have nothing against AI. It is a tool just like a camera, a brush, a chainsaw. Whatever an artist uses to create their work. Just admit what you do/use.
    However, when someone like Avery is using AI to fill an Instagram for “followers” he is no different than people like George Santos, an impostor. People need to learn to not socially feed these types and let them go away.

  3. Shawn D Avatar
    Shawn D

    PLOT TWIST… HE IS AN AI…

  4. pixeljammer Avatar
    pixeljammer

    What difference does it make how you get there? If people like the result, they like the result. The “art” isn’t in the process, is it? I coulda sworn that part was called “craft”.

  5. Tunes Firwood Avatar
    Tunes Firwood

    I’m curious as to why people are so upset that a set of overprocessed, unrealistic, photos of people that may or may not exist was done via AI instead of Photoshop.

    1. Antoine Hart Avatar
      Antoine Hart

      Tunes Firwood because the guy claim the photos weren’t ai and that he photographed them

    2. Tunes Firwood Avatar
      Tunes Firwood

      Antoine Hart Sure. But where’s the outrage about “photographers” making composites, using automated retouching tools, literally warping their subjects in post, and generally stripping the images of all reality?

      It’s been a long time since photos were real.

    3. Antoine Hart Avatar
      Antoine Hart

      Tunes Firwood because composites you’re still doing the work. Not just typing in words and claiming you’re photographer or artist

    4. Tunes Firwood Avatar
      Tunes Firwood

      Antoine Hart Allow me to introduce you to “Portrait Pro”. 😛

      What you’ve just described is the job of a creative director – someone who just spits out a bunch of words, and somehow that becomes art. Is the problem really just whether you press buttons on a keyboard or a camera?

    5. Keith Heinrich Avatar
      Keith Heinrich

      Tunes Firwood this is the correct answer. My guess is its a good click baity topic right now so lets flog it to death.

  6. Nick Karen M Avatar
    Nick Karen M

    AI is in its infancy. I can only imagine how crazy this will get in the years to come. It is tantamount to plagiarism and theft when it uses actual photographers art to assemble its images. So far its the wild weet with no rules or laws to guide the citizenry.

    1. Ian Brace Avatar
      Ian Brace

      Deep Fake springs to mind, it’s all fun and games at the moment but when you can’t tell the difference that will be a problem.

    2. Nick Karen M Avatar
      Nick Karen M

      Ian Brace many of the Joe Biden videos on instagram have been deep faked. It is already a problem.

    3. Ian Brace Avatar
      Ian Brace

      It’s just going to get worse and when you have an app filter that can make you look 30 years or so younger we’re not going to be able to believe anything on the Internet at all.

  7. Will Rogers Avatar
    Will Rogers

    The two shared in the article are blatantly AI.

    I’m sure that the AI will improve but I’m not sure what the point of AI photos of people is.

  8. UnoGeeks Training Avatar
    UnoGeeks Training

    Thank you for writing informative post and interesting article Oracle Integration Cloud (OIC) Training