Have you ever thought to yourself, “I wish there was a way to learn commercial photography by listening to a ditzy fictional character make lots of mistakes?” Nope, me neither. But now we all can, thanks to this new fictional podcast called The Art of Seeing.
The podcast is the brainchild of longtime commercial photographer and educator Lee Love. It follows newbie photographer MacKenzie (Mac) as she navigates the trials and tribulations of the world of commercial photography. “Will MacKenzie Make It, or Have to Crawl Back to Her Hometown, Defeated?” the homepage asks.
We are promised that alongside MacKenzie, we will get to know Frank, “the professional (rather illustrious) photographer who mentors MacKenzie as she works to reach her dream,” and Jackson, MacKenzie’s “hot boyfriend.”
I can hardly wait to listen to the first episode. After hearing about the hot boyfriend, I’m expecting a CreativeLive class meets 50 Shades at this point.
Episode one is called “The Portfolio”. That makes total sense, considering the portfolio is a major part of any photographer’s life and something that continues to dominate it no matter how high up the ladder you climb. It is also a cause of stress and anxiety for many new photographers. Would the episode contain advice for MacKenzie on how to build a solid portfolio that will help her gain the attention of potential clients and agents?
Well, no, actually. The ten-minute episode contains no mention of portfolios or hot boyfriends. I feel mis-sold. Actually, it consists of nothing more than some excruciatingly stilted AI-created dialogue that serves no purpose other than engraining gender stereotypes.
“Oh!” exclaims MacKenzie. “I’m such a clutz, I couldn’t possibly wrap my pretty little brain around technical things like lighting.” So she calls her grandfather “Poppop” for lighting advice, who helpfully explains to her what a softbox is and what soft lighting is. Dear. God. Help. Me. Now.
“This creative production is truly one-of-a-kind,” Love told Digital Camera World. “Photography education doesn’t have to be boring or dry. With The Art of Seeing, we’re bringing together the power of storytelling, the struggles that many new photographers face and cutting-edge AI technology to create an educational experience like no other.”
Let’s talk about that AI aspect for a moment. I don’t believe that using ChatGPT and AI voice software is a particularly effective way of educating or storytelling. Here’s an extract, all delivered in an emotionless robotic voice:
MacKenzie: “I need some fresh air. Oooo, a cup of tea would be great.” Cue 7 seconds of footsteps as we wait for MacKenzie to walk the 5 metres to her local hipster coffee shop (where clearly she is spending too much of her time).
“It looks busy today,”
“Yeah, a little slammed today. Do you want the usual?”
It’s scintillating stuff. If you have 10 minutes of your life that you don’t mind losing forever, then for sure, give it a listen. It truly does make 50 Shades of Grey feel like Emily Bronte.
Okay, so admittedly, my opinion is a little flippant. I’ll chalk it up to the years of micro-aggressions from working in a largely male-dominated industry. I do actually applaud Love for trying something a bit different. However, I do have a few requests for future episodes.
Please, please use a real human writer to create compelling and believable characters. Let’s drop the whole “young women lack confidence and technical knowledge” trope. This is vastly inaccurate. Most young women have experienced levels of discrimination and frustrations that the average middle-aged white male could only dream of. They do not lack confidence, tenacity, knowledge or resourcefulness.
What almost all new young photographers lack are opportunities, experience and money. And it is particularly challenging for those coming from minority or less affluent backgrounds. They deserve to be represented by a proper three-dimensional character, not this AI-generated wet dream.
But what do I know? I’m just a brainless female photographer, after all. Can anyone help me with my flash settings? 🥺