There has been so much discussion recently about where AI imaging technology is going to leave the photography and other creative industries lately. It almost feels as though you cannot go online without reading about it (yep, guilty of adding to that, sorry, not sorry).
But in amongst those usual arguments are some not so often talked about points of view. In this video, Taylor Jackson brings up the elephant in the room when it comes to AI, which he believes no one is really addressing.
Jackson predicts that AI imaging will even disrupt personal branding photography now that everyone can create their own avatar-likeness for mere pennies. But that’s not the issue here. The crux of it, says Jackson, is that AI will ultimately rob us of the very joy that photography brings us.
For example, he believes that you’ll invest a couple of years learning photography, and go to Iceland in order to capture those epic images that you see online. But you’ll be sorely disappointed because your images will in no way ever stand up to those images created with the help of AI that you’ve become accustomed to seeing.
It’s an interesting point of view. However, I think that maybe he just isn’t quite getting the point of why most of us create anything.
For the majority of us, photography isn’t just a job. Heck, there are way better ways of earning a living, trust me. And that goes for most of the arts. I don’t earn a living from landscape photography. It is something that I love to do in my free time. It pushes me to explore places and get outside in the fresh air and get my body moving. No AI is going to replace that for me.
Most of the time, I go out to take photographs, and I come away with maybe just one or two passable images each time. Sometimes I don’t shoot anything that I like. And that’s ok, I am happy with that. I will certainly not be crying into my thermos flask about how I cannot match the images I’ve seen online. And I won’t be making them up, either, like “Snow-leopard-Gate”.
We are already inundated with impossibly beautiful images online that have been ‘tweaked’ by Photoshop and other post-processing. I don’t think that this is a valid concern about AI. The invention of photography didn’t see a stop to people enjoying learning to paint, just as the move to digital didn’t completely stop people from shooting film.
Digital drum machines have been around for decades now. And they are very, very good. To be able to play some of the grooves you hear on a real drum set takes years of practice and high amounts of skill. But it doesn’t replicate the joy of learning something, of mastering a skill. There is still plenty of opportunities (paid and otherwise) for drummers out there.
After 30-plus years of playing the instrument, I am still not tired of trying to improve at it. Humans thrive on overcoming challenges. This will not change. If you’re going to give up after a year because you’re not any good, perhaps that particular thing wasn’t for you.
Jackson thinks that the biggest challenge will be our “mental competition with ourselves,” as he puts it. That has always been the case, and it is what drives us to get incrementally better each day. My goal is to be a better photographer today than I was yesterday. That is all.
There will be a shift, given, but we must remember that the beautiful part of creating, is the process. If you love the process, nothing can take that enjoyment away.
Will you quit photography just because AI is easier?