Could AI Replace Most of Our Photography Jobs?

Unfortunately, I don't think it's a huge stretch to think that many of us may see our professions being replaced by AI. 

I understand that many of us don't want to hear about the doom and gloom of how everything is going to be terrible and we have nothing to hope for in the future. In all honesty, I don't think it's going to be anywhere near as bad as some of us may believe. Having said that, it would be very foolish of us to assume that our jobs could never be impacted by technology and artificially intelligent machines. Plenty of industries have seen their fair share of change and "updates," because ultimately, companies are interested in their bottom lines. I think as photographers, it's important for us to consider these potential changes and make adjustments accordingly. Even right now, the photography industry isn't exactly the easiest one to be in, and there are so many factors that can diminish a business. Being complacent is probably not the smartest thing we can do right now, and it's important that we prepare for worst-case scenarios. One of the best ways to do this is to learn and improve your skills and techniques. These don't necessarily need to be specifically related to taking a picture but ones that can complement your business. 

As discussed in the video linked above, companies like Disney are already replacing many of their portrait photographers, so it's important that we remain vigilant and prepared. 

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23 Comments

Rod Kestel's picture

AI viewers next. Close the loop and we humans become superfluous.

I wouldn't be too worried. I'm a lawyer in Canada. I see something similar developing in our industry. Today, I had my first experience testing out legal AI that has been developed by a very large international company. It will undoubtedly overtake search engines that we use today for legal research just as AI will affect photography or other industries. In my case, one types or uploads a word file containing the factual story that has resulted in a dispute. You don't ask any questions. Then the AI will analyze all the words in your statement of facts and provide court decisions (case authority) that may provide answers to the legal issues. It did a very poor job on my query. The results were completely unusable. No doubt that will change and in a short time it will be very functional. However, when that day comes, it will still need a skilled lawyer who understands the issues to properly feed it what it needs to get the proper output. After that it will take a high level of skill to sort out the relevant from the irrelevant in its output and put it to use, give advice to help people make decisions. It will still need someone to go to court if required. The AI part is just a small part of the work I would do in my work. It may one day replace someone who uses simple repetitive staff intensive documents like real estate. It could even take over the signing process. I suspect this will prove to be the same for photographers. It will have significant impact sooner on something like school yearbook photos, store flyer photos and no doubt will diminish human input on other tasks as well. It just means that many lower skilled tasks for many industries will need people who can set things up and work with the results rather than do the simpler tasks themselves.. The more demanding tasks and more demanding situations will still require someone with skill and experience. That's not news though. We have seen that already in all aspects of life over the last 200 years. As AI gets better, it will simply be a tool to help you do your job better and more efficiently if you embrace the inevitable.

Blake Aghili's picture

e-Comm shots like JC Penny catalog shots? Yeah sure ..
Art of photography? never.

Usman Dawood's picture

Well, that depends. What if people start appreciating work from certain AI as a form of art? I don't think that would replace other artists but AI could become its own segment.

Jan Kruize's picture

Could AI replace Tony Northrup?

Alex Yakimov's picture

Wait! Real Tony exists?

visionrouge net's picture

And these bloggers who never shoot any picture for real work but still give advice on megapixel count.

Andy Day's picture

You know the Northrups used to shoot a metric shit ton of stock photos, right?

Shooting a metric shit ton of stock photos may explain why T. Northrup had no idea what he was talking about when he made his "Disturbing True Story" video defaming Steve McCurry.

The Ken Rockwell of YouTube

Ken Rockwell is more honest.

visionrouge net's picture

My personal AI is well trained.
When it sees the "Tony Northrup" face on a video, he just jump to next article.
Saves a lot of time!

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

And, yet, here you are.

your AI needs work. It must have clicked on this article in error.

Spy Black's picture

Don't think it can't happen. I'm seeing a lot of non-profressionals in studios shooting and retouching images. AI software will only further spread that practice, allowing companies start to do a lot of the production in-house with interns. Adobe is only aiding an abetting in that, eventually they will have the "one ring to rule them all" in graphics post.

Benoit Pigeon's picture

Probably close to 90% of my work is on location. I can see some form of assistance from AI, but for the real work, AI would need me all day. Could I assist AI, sure, but would I do it for a very low pay, nope.

David Pavlich's picture

Yep! I'd like to see AI deal with bridezilla. :-)

Christian Lainesse's picture

When the first photobooth came to market, did it steal jobs away from photographers?

Yes. Photographers used to make money out of passport photos. Not the most artistic form of photography, but a steady source of income.

Benoit Pigeon's picture

Not sure about it. Photo booth in Europe have been used for passport photos since at least the 70's. In the US, people were relying on minilabs and camera stores using cookie cutter techniques that require only very basic knowledge. There is no way I would set up for a random call for photo passport.

Not sure I understand your point. Yes the transition to photo booths occurred a long time ago. But before it did, human photographers were the ones taking the photos and getting paid for it. Who else? After photo booths were introduced, indeed as far back as the 70s, that is a source of income photographers could not rely on anymore.

Tony Clark's picture

What do you think Disney spent on that study and setup as opposed to the minimum wage they paid the employees?

Tony's secret key to that hair color is Kodak Fixer.