Will Robots Take Photography Jobs?

Will Robots Take Photography Jobs?

I don't know about you but I've been a little overwhelmed about the power of artificial intelligence and the speed it's replacing jobs that can be automated. Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg have recently stated that a basic salary should be paid to every citizen in America to make sure that people who have lost their jobs due to automation can keep on their feet and do whatever it is they've always wanted to do. 

Elon Musk recently stated, "if labor can be replaced by a machine, what's the purpose of the job being fulfilled by a person?". What this means is that the arts, including photography, will and already is, one of the best industries to be in. Firstly because it will be hard for a machine to capture an image that contains the emotion needed to make it striking and meaningful. And secondly, being artistic or creative is essentially a human characteristic which enables us to solve problems and to create concepts to provoke thought. 

I'm not saying machines can't do it, I'm just saying the solution it'll find will be based on what people have done in the past. Creativity is to think in a unique and different way. A bot is programmed, either to do the same thing over and over again, or to analyze raw data and come to a conclusion which, based on the past experiences, solves the problem. Therefore, I come to the conclusion that creativity is the differentiator between man and machine. 

If you want to check whether your job is safe, go to  Will Robots Take My Job to see if you, your friends and family are doing jobs that will be replaced in future. What I found weird was that it said photographers have a 2.1% chance of being replaced by automation, but models have a 98% chance of being replaced, so their industry is doomed. Does this mean the fashion photographer will have to diversify and shoot for a different industry or will they end up shooting holograms or model simulations? This doesn't quite sound like photography to me.


Here is a video of Elon Musk explaining how there will be fewer jobs that a robot cannot do better and the need for a universal basic income. 


And here is Mark Zuckerberg calling for universal basic income too:

Wired just released a video explaining what will happen to manufacturing of products and the delivery of services and what can be expected in the near future. 

Do you think we should all get a basic salary which can put food on the table when a bot takes your work? Do you think a robot can ever replace a photographer? With that said, to me photography is much more than just holding up a camera and taking the shot, but will that even matter when the companies in need of photos rather choose a bot to do it because it's more efficient or cheaper? It's a strange and very interesting time we're living in for sure. 

Wouter du Toit's picture

Wouter is a portrait and street photographer based in Paris, France. He's originally from Cape Town, South Africa. He does image retouching for clients in the beauty and fashion industry and enjoys how technology makes new ways of photography possible.

Log in or register to post comments

I won't comment on a basic salary, that is far too complex a topic to argue in a comment field. Robot replacing a photographer? As cameras have become more advanced we could argue that certain aspects of photography have already been replaced by programming. Do you focus? For the most part no, but you might select what to focus on. Do you meter? For the most part no, but we do adjust the cameras efforts in difficult situations. Most cameras, left to their own programming, pointed at a subject will take a far better exposure than most photographers from 50 years ago. But you still need someone (a human) to point and choose the subject. We are not there yet with programming a machine to be creative, just look at Google's attempts. Their most advanced efforts need a subject chosen by a human, we don't have machines that can walk down a street and find a compelling moment... yet. Though their may come a day, when you go on vacation and start your day by launching your personal drone to follow you and your family around all day taking shots, letting it do all the work while you choose your favorites to post at the end of the day. But even that will not replace an artist.

That site, willrobotstakemyjob.com is pretty interesting - seem to be quite safe.
So, on a lark, I typed in assassin- because Terminator- and the I got for job choices that match:
Career/Technical Education Teachers, Secondary School SOC CODE: 25-2032.00

I just can't take questions like this seriously when framed as an inevitability. Allowing for mass automation is a political choice framed as something that's just *going to happen no matter what.* because some Silicon Valley billionaire says so. Human life is not magically pre-destined to maximize labor market efficiency, and it's not entirely clear that it would even be a good idea if we could. It's not a matter of if or when. It's a matter of "should we?"

When you consider that most creatives are just regurgitating old ideas or combinging them to make a new one I don't see why an ai machine couldn't be just as or more creative.

In regards to fashion I believe that will go the way of 3D models and rendered images for publication. It's already being done to some extent with programs like Marvelous Designer.

Hunger Games is a forecast?

That Facebook putz should pay everybody's salary out of his own pocket.

The real question isn't whether robots will take photographer's jobs, but what size the market for photography (still or motion) will be. Or to look at it another way: who will be selling what to whom and will the people in the business of selling continue to need well crafted, "professional quality" photography as part of their sales messaging?

This is a trick question to get people to read their articles. Why does Mark Zucker have anything to say. He has billions and most of his site is a robot. His goal is, "To Network the World". It is the Smart phones and the internet sites that show the works of hundreds of photographers. It is the same as: Will robots replace workers. The answer is: They already have, for over 100 years since H. Ford, who copied the production line of a butcher and made workers into robots and then it is easy to replace the workers with real robots. I cannot say what I think in this small space, but you get the idea. You have to be aware that were are being dragged into whatever the media likes, mostly cable news... They do not pay to show tweets or FB and they say, "Send us your photos"... But do they pay... NO, "The Observers" on France 24 are the worst of them all. Kings and Queens didn't pay because it was, "An Honor" to work for them and use the label, "By Appointment to..." and hundreds of young photographers are "Attention Slaves", no money, but we will give you credit... WOW.

J. Welch, M. Zuckerberg, B. Gates, E. Musk, J. Bezos, D. Trump and the rest of the billionairs are people who suffer from a "Personality Disorder" They become cold killers and steal others ideas and have an all consuming need to "Prove" who they are by their title and money not by what they truly are. Don't support or envy them... They never have enough money nor attention.

I postulate: people prefer to deal with the head of an entity. Simple analysis I look at your head and not your hands or feet when talking to you. We may tolerate not interacting with the head for relatively trivial matters but in the end we prefer to deal with the top person.

Deduction: If I am going to spend anything [especially my precious time] on a photograph I will prefer it came as close to the source as possible. Namely from the photographer and not their algorithm/AI device.

We already have indicators of how this will play out. Take food production, with a strong demand for natural products. People are alive and want to interact with live people not machines [any life in a machine comes from its creators, and oh how watered down it is]. Live music is soooo much better than a recording.