Will AI image generation ultimately ruin our love for photography?

Dec 12, 2022

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

Will AI image generation ultimately ruin our love for photography?

Dec 12, 2022

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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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?

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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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9 responses to “Will AI image generation ultimately ruin our love for photography?”

  1. Carolyn Gallo Avatar
    Carolyn Gallo

    No.

  2. Michael McLaughlin Avatar
    Michael McLaughlin

    Why would I? Now I have lots more time to catch the shot.

  3. Safidy Andrianantenaina Avatar
    Safidy Andrianantenaina

    AI can’t tell a real story

  4. Daniel Shanley Avatar
    Daniel Shanley

    Why? Half the fun is the experience.

  5. Rick Armstrong Avatar
    Rick Armstrong

    Years ago, I thought the introduction of autofocus and auto-exposure would be the death of photography as I knew it. Advances in technology happen, and its up to us to figure out how to use them to improve our images. In regard to the example of a trip to Iceland, and the images not coming out like those the photographer had seen online, I can relate a personal story. Years ago when I was involved with our local scout troop, I used my entry level DSLR on camping trips. Another leader used a decent point and shoot. He once asked me why my photos always looked so much better than his. The answer was simple: postprocessing. He didn’t do any. He uploaded straight from his camera. Mine got at least a little tweak. Huge difference.

  6. Carter Tune Avatar
    Carter Tune

    Not when AI will own the prints copyright.

  7. Bart Ros Fotografie - Fotograaf Deventer & Overijssel Avatar
    Bart Ros Fotografie – Fotograaf Deventer & Overijssel

    No lol. Those rendered cameras do not look like a nightmare at all 😂

  8. allenwrench Avatar
    allenwrench

    Where are the sample photos? Show AI vs real photo. This is a photo forum.

    Will it hurt photogs? Dunno, time will tell.

    I heard they will be using computer generated photos for catalogs, so no need for commercial photogs. I guess we will hear the complaints if and when.

    1. Kaouthia Avatar
      Kaouthia

      There have literally been 3 billion posts around the web on AI generated imagery over the last year or so. It’s really not all that difficult to find.