Is AI Technology the Future for Photographers?

Is AI Technology the Future for Photographers?

As photographers, we are always looking for ways to improve our craft and stay ahead of the curve. With new technology emerging every day, it can be difficult to know what is worth investing in and what will become obsolete in a few months. In this short article, we will explore the potential of AI technology and how it could benefit photographers in the future. 

The future of photography is changing. The days of manually adjusting lighting, saturation, and other settings are quickly becoming a thing of the past with the rise of AI-assisted editing software like Lightroom, Photoshop, and Luminar, to name a few. These tools make it easy to edit photos without requiring any skills or knowledge about how to use editing software and in some cases, even a camera. But does this mean that you should use it?

What Is AI Technology?

It is the next big thing that will change our lives and industries as we know it. Whether you are a photographer or not, AI technology has already started to have an impact on your life with things like Google Photos and Facebook's DeepFace detection software. But do we need this technology? Is there room for both AI-assisted and traditional photography in the industry?

AI technology can be used for a lot of different things when it comes to photography. It can help you with the editing process, but it can also be used to make suggestions about how you could improve your shots. For example, if you're taking photos of people and they're blinking, the AI might be able to suggest that you take another shot. 

One of the most exciting applications of AI in photography is its ability to improve image editing and composition. By analyzing thousands of photos, AI can learn which elements make a good photo and how to edit them accordingly. For example, it can identify the best angle for a photo or adjust colors and lighting to create a more aesthetically pleasing image.

How Will AI Technology Affect Photographers?

In a lot of ways, AI is a good thing for photographers because it allows us to take better photos with less time and effort. The problem is that if we rely too much on AI, then it won't allow us to grow as humans and improve our skills as photographers. One way around this is by combining human aspects with machine aspects when taking photos so that each works together to create the best possible photo.  

As a photographer, you are probably wondering if AI is going to replace your job. The short answer is no, we need the human perspective in all aspects of it, but the long answer may be slightly more complicated. AI can be used in many ways for photography. For example, it can help identify colors and objects in photos that most people would never notice on their own. This makes it easier for amateur photographers to take better pictures without spending too much time editing them by hand. It also helps with taking photographs of subjects that move quickly like animals or children because the camera doesn't have an issue focusing on them. The technology may not be able to replace professional photographers just yet, but it will change how they work over time.

AI Software

For a long time, the world of photography has been dominated by software and hardware. But with the introduction of AI technology, it seems that things are changing. The latest Photoshop release from Adobe is packed full of AI features to help you edit your photos with ease. And this is not just for professional photographers: even novice users can take advantage of these new tools to create amazing images, as they can still use AI technology to produce high-quality images without any prior experience whatsoever. But is this a good thing?

Sky replacement in the form of AI has been around for some time now with mixed reactions. Some fervently oppose its use, while others can see the potential when used correctly, unlike the example image above. 

Lightroom and Luminar Neo are just a few other examples that use AI technology for editing photos. This is not something new. AI has been around in some form or another for decades now. Perhaps this is the way forward, and perhaps we should embrace it. AI technology can assist you in creating images that perhaps are just out of reach for you at present. Aside from just helping out with the editing process, AI can also be used to create entire photo albums for you. All you need to do is provide some basic information about what kind of album you want, and the AI will take care of the rest!

For or Against?

Some people believe that AI technology is a bad thing for photographers. They say it will replace them and their craft, which is true in some ways. But perhaps it is the fact that with AI comes the ability to make photography more accessible to those who can't afford it or lack skills, as well as those who want an easier way of taking photos. There are negatives and positives to this technology, but without a doubt, there's room for both traditional and new forms of photography. 

Both arguments have their pros and cons. On one hand, it is great that anyone, regardless of their skill set or knowledge, can now produce a decent quality photograph with the help of AI technology. This could lead to a whole new generation of photographers who might not have otherwise pursued photography as a hobby or profession. On the other hand, some people might argue that this takes away from the traditional artistry and skill required to be a good photographer.

Final Thoughts on the Use of AI Technology in Photography

It’s hard to say what the future holds for photographers and post-production artists, but this may be a good time to consider how you could embrace AI technology. There are many benefits of using artificial intelligence in photography. For example, it can save you hours or even days worth of work if your photos need some sort of editing before they are sent to your clients or go live on social media. But how do we know when enough is enough? Will there come a day where nothing needs tweaking and correcting due to AI post-processing? Do we want that kind of world? What does this mean for learning technical skills like Photoshop or Lightroom when AI will take care of all those steps for us? Is this the end of technical learning when AI can do it all without any effort from humans?

Gary McIntyre's picture

Gary McIntyre is a landscape photographer and digital artist based on the west coast of Scotland. As well as running photography workshops in the Glencoe region, providing online editing workshops, Gary also teaches photography and image editing at Ayrshire college.

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A very interesting article. In particular your observation of "The problem is that if we rely too much on AI, then it won't allow us to grow as humans and improve our skills as photographers" hit home.

I believe we, as photographers, need to start declaring whether a picture is a 'photograph' or 'digital art from a photo'. I experience great disappointment review pictures at camera club meetings when I discovered what I'm looking at is not what the camera captured, but what the photographer created in post. I have no problem with 'digital art' as long as it's declared which is not a common practice.

The same issue of declaring a picture 'digital art' in my mind can also occur with the use of AI in post.

Thanks for reading the article, Paul. When you say it's not as the camera captured, do you mean without post-processing or with slight adjustments, or completely over-processed?

Gary, I mean with major object removal or changes like skies or, in my case, removal of the tripod the lens ball is on. Tonal adjustments need to be done on the RAW.

Most can learn to take a successful photograph without too much difficulty. Finding a good subject, learning to make a good composition, learning how to find or create good light, and knowing your camera settings, basically the craft of photography can be learned with time and a bit of determination. The thing that is much more complicated is developing an artistic vision. Not just taking a photo, but creating a body of work and understanding why you are creating this body of work and understanding what it is “saying” to the viewer. All of that being said, if you are taking the steps to think about your work and cultivate this artistic vision. If AI technology is used as a part of this larger artistic vision and voice and it is controlled in order to artistically communicate your vision, this can be a beautiful thing. If your just turning knobs and moving sliders, even if you make something “cool” then there are some potential problems.

I think it's inevitable that AI technology will dominate photography to the extent of being able to get the best possible output from a given source photograph to match a chosen style. For me this is still a photograph where the post-production is being handled by a computer in a few seconds rather than a human in several minutes or hours. Let's forget about sky replacement and the like - any technique that is introducing elements into the image that were never there in the first place clearly crosses the line to digital art and should be considered as such. What AI can never do though is actually travel to the destination you intend to photograph, wake up at 3am for the 2 hour hike up the mountain at sunrise and then capture a moment where the first rays of the sun glint off the alpine lake as the flock of birds forms a perfect composition. For sure AI could make up the same image, and for the market for non-photographers who purchase photographs of places they have visited without having been there to experience the actual day/time/composition (much like a postcard for example) then I'm sure they will only have an ever expanding set of 'postcards' to choose from and will no doubt soon be able to interact with AI powered websites to manipulate the images in a style that matches their upholstery or whatever. For me though it's like all those 'amazing' images of the badly post-produced huge moons in front of amazing backdrops that get thousands of likes but leave me stone cold as they are so obviously fake - AI will democratize the ability to produce such fakes faster and in higher volumes than ever before, but that doesn't impact my personal photography in any way. As a non-professional, I photograph people/places to build my own personal memories to reflect on over the decades and for the challenge of the craft to produce something of aesthetic or documentary merit. That latter point actually requires a lens to be physically present at a specific location and time and while one day (beyond AI) I may be able to click on a website and have a micro-drone fly out to a travel destination of my choice and take a photograph with a lens I specify in a direction I specify and at a specific moment in time, such an image would hold no memories for me about the journey, the smell of the grass, the sounds of the wind or the people I was with on the journey. As such, it would be completely worthless.

Just put on my wings of steel and flew to this Midjourney place to "capture" this scene based on your suggestion. I agree, the hike, the smell of the grass and the gentle breeze caressing my brow were not part of the exercise...yet. 🥸

Derivative and not terribly realistic.