This photographer embraces AI and thinks we should all do the same

Dec 4, 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

This photographer embraces AI and thinks we should all do the same

Dec 4, 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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This photographer embraces AI and thinks we should all do the same

Pratik Naik has become a bit of a household name in photography circles. He’s known mainly for his high-end retouching, but he’s also an accomplished photographer in his own right, as well as an educator, and creator of Infinite Tools.

More recently, Pratik has been exploring new technologies, including AI processes and image generation. He’s curious about what the future holds for creatives and doesn’t shy away from asking big questions about AI and how we can use it for our benefit rather than our demise. Pratik sat down with DIYP to chat.

This photographer embraces AI and thinks we should all do the same
Photo: Joe McNally

DIYP: Can you tell us a little about your relationship with retouching and photography? How did you end up as a high-end retoucher? Was it something you always wanted to do?

Pratik: My relationship with retouching and photography began when I was in high school! I was always fascinated by how photos could be manipulated to create new images or improve the existing ones. When I started learning, I quickly fell in love with the process!

I didn’t always know that I wanted to be a professional retoucher. I started out as a photographer, but I quickly realized that I enjoyed the retouching process more than the shooting process at the time. I also realized that I loved the process of it! I was able to see the potential in every image, and I was able to bring out the best in each subject.

I decided to pursue a career in retouching full-time, and I’ve been working as a high-end retoucher for over 10 years now. I’ve worked on a wide range of projects, from fashion and beauty to commercial and editorial. I’ve also had the opportunity to work with some of the most talented photographers in the world.

I am passionate about retouching because I believe that it is an art form. It is a way to transform images and create new realities. I love being able to use my skills to help photographers and clients achieve their vision.

This photographer embraces AI and thinks we should all do the same
Photo: Eric Michael Roy

DIYP: Where do you find your inspiration and boundless creative energy?

Pratik: I find my inspiration and creative energy in a variety of places, including art, nature, people, and my passion for retouching. I am always looking for new ways to push the boundaries of what is possible with retouching.

For example, when I see a beautiful painting, I think about how I could recreate the look and feel of the painting or feel inspired by the lighting. When I listen to a piece of music, I think about how I could use the rhythm and emotion of the music to create a dynamic and visually appealing image.

When I talk to someone about their experiences, I think about how I could capture those experiences in a photograph. And when I see a new retouching technique, I challenge myself to learn it and use it in my own work.

I am always open to new ideas and willing to experiment. This is how I keep my creative energy flowing.

I believe that it is important for retouchers to find their own sources of inspiration and to develop their own unique style. This is what sets us apart and allows us to create truly unique and memorable images.

This photographer embraces AI and thinks we should all do the same
Photographer: Susanne Spiel, model: Aga / MMG Models, Styling: Sally Matthews, HM: Kate Goodwin

DIYP: You’re known as a retoucher and educator in the industry, but you’re also a pretty great photographer. Have you ever been tempted to switch roles and pursue a photography career?

Pratik: I have been tempted to pursue a career in photography, but I have always decided to keep it as a hobby. I find that photography is a great source of inspiration for my retouching work. It also allows me to learn more about the challenges that photographers face so that I can better serve my clients.

By keeping photography as a hobby, I am able to explore my creativity and experiment with new techniques without the pressure of having to produce work that is commercial or client-driven. This allows me to develop my skills as a photographer and to learn more about the craft of retouching.

This photographer embraces AI and thinks we should all do the same
Photo: Pratik Naik

Additionally, by understanding the challenges that photographers face, I am better able to serve my clients as a retoucher. I know what they are looking for in an image, and I know what is possible to achieve with retouching. This allows me to work collaboratively with my clients to create images that they are truly happy with.

This photographer embraces AI and thinks we should all do the same
Photo: Pratik Naik

I am grateful for the opportunity to work as both a photographer and a retoucher. I believe that these two roles complement each other perfectly. Photography allows me to be creative and explore my vision, while retouching allows me to use my skills to help others achieve their vision.

DIYP: I love your general curiosity and fearless approach to AI. Can you tell me your thoughts on generative AI and where you think the creative visual industries are headed in the next 3 years? What challenges and/or advantages will that create for photographers and retouchers?

Pratik: Generative AI is no doubt changing our industry, offering artists new tools and techniques for idea generation, creative enhancements, and task automation. Over the next three years, AI’s influence will continue to grow, redefining the roles of artists and emphasizing the need to use these tools to complement our vision to realize the end goal faster and to enhance results!

As barriers to creation loosen up to the world, we will see an emergence of more unique ideas being presented. However, this progress will have ethical challenges and a higher demand for learning new tools and techniques.

The dynamic relationship between artists and AI will require a balance of technical ability, continuous learning, and adaptability as the creative process becomes a collaborative effort between our creative vision and artificial intelligence.

It also raises concerns about job displacement and technical hurdles. The key is to start looking at AI as a complement rather than a replacement. AI can empower artists to focus on the more creative aspects of their work while freeing them from repetitive and time-consuming tasks.

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Unlike the shift from film to digital, this shift will be faster and more widespread, for better or worse. The next few years will definitely be interesting, to say the least! It’s worth paying attention to everything that is coming on the horizon to see how it can help your creative goals!

This photographer embraces AI and thinks we should all do the same
Photo: Dennis Bertram

DIYP: What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever been asked to do related to retouching or photography?

Pratik: I could go on for hours talking about all the crazy requests and changes I’ve gotten from clients over the years, but honestly, the worst ones are when people ask me to change their appearance. I recall one instance where I had a client request 10 rounds of changes to their face because it didn’t look like what they saw of themselves in their own minds.

I tried my best to accommodate their requests, but it was clear to me that they were never going to be happy, no matter what I did. The photo was part of a group image that was going to be displayed in their office, so I couldn’t help but wonder what their colleagues were going to think when they saw how different they looked from the person they knew.

In the end, I asked the client not to tag or recommend me, and I was relieved when they agreed. It made me pretty sad, to be honest, because I take pride in my work, and I always want my clients to be happy.

DIYP: What is your favourite piece of gear, and what could you not live without?

Pratik: I love my Wacom Intuos Pro graphic tablet. It’s so essential to my work as a retoucher that I can’t imagine working without it. Before I got my tablet, I used a mouse or trackpad, but it was a much slower process. After getting used to drawing on a tablet, it feels so natural and organic that I can’t go back to anything less.

I understand that some people never get used to using a graphic tablet, but if you’re a retoucher, I highly recommend trying one out. It will make your workflow much faster and easier. If you’re not sure which tablet to choose, I recommend a Wacom Intuos Pro. It’s a great all-around tablet that’s perfect for both beginners and experienced retouchers.

Using a mouse or trackpad for retouching can also lead to carpal tunnel syndrome, a painful condition that affects the wrists. So, even if you don’t want to get a graphic tablet, I recommend using a mouse over a trackpad.

DIYP: Is there anything else you would like to tell DIYP readers?

Pratik: We live in a time of rapid technological change, both exciting and daunting. We can’t control how much this change will impact us, but we can control how we respond to it. We can choose to embrace new technologies and use them to our advantage, or we can fear them and resist change.

I know that people will react to these changes with a range of emotions, from fear to excitement. It’s important to remember that technology is just a tool, and like any tool, it can be used for good or bad. This is why I put together a course for photographers so that they can better understand the potential of AI in their workflow. The most important thing to do right now is to stay informed so you can use the tools to your benefit.

Learn about the technology’s potential benefits and risks. Talk to people who are using it. Once you have a good understanding of it, you can make an informed decision about whether or not it’s right for you. There is so much out there that not everything needs to be something you have to use!

This photographer embraces AI and thinks we should all do the same
Photo: Tricia Turner
This photographer embraces AI and thinks we should all do the same
Photo: Bella Kotak

You can see more of Pratik’s work on his website, or follow him on Instagram. You can see more of his AI creations here.

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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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3 responses to “This photographer embraces AI and thinks we should all do the same”

  1. Fred Stafford Avatar
    Fred Stafford

    It’s not photography if you don’t actually work the image yourself. What would Ansel Adam’s say??
    Work the image yourself either in a darkroom or any Image processing software without AI would be far more satisfying for yourself or your customer. JMO

  2. True to Reality Avatar
    True to Reality

    The horserider: Weird feet, her left hand with distorted little finger, left trouser leg melting into the horse, the triangular black blob to the left, the rope looking like an white garden hose with its squeezed end and implausible knots, weird underlighting, shadows all over the place despite the quite diffuse illumination, artifacts and halos caused by oversharpening. Hany Farid would have a feast with this one. Don’t get me wrong: The image is perfectly fine for a fast food audience who would not notice or even care anyway. It’s like a SciFi novel: Pure imagination. And, no, I don’t think that we should all “embrace AI”.

    1. Peter Avatar
      Peter

      For all who didn’t get the joke(!)… it is a real photo:
      https://joemcnally.com/2020/04/06/lighting-and-framing-on-the-prairie/