Artificial intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing the photography industry by automating many tasks that were previously done manually. This has the potential to greatly impact the way photos are taken, edited, and shared. Should we be worried about AI or embrace it?
AI in the Creative World
I started preparing for this article by asking ChatGPT to write an article about the impact of AI on the photographic industry. The text produced wasn't a bad article, but it was very generic and didn't really draw any conclusions, but it made coherent sense. So, I put a few paragraphs of AI generated text at the top of the article, followed by a few hundred words on my thoughts. After submitting that article to Fstoppers, it was rejected, as it contained what was quite obviously AI-generated content. I was a little taken back, as that was kind of the point of the article, but there are SEO concerns, not to mention the fact that I was effectively submitting an article that I only wrote half of. So, I tried a more complex question of the AI and asked for an article which was written from the point of view of a 40-year-old millennial. The text which was produced wasn't much more detailed, but it did have a few statements that came across more personally, such as references to growing up with analog film processing. Well spotted there, AI algorithm, way to make me feel old.
Unfortunately, the article was rejected again for the same reasons. I completely understood and even agree that the overtly AI generated content, taken as the published article, rather than an example in an article, could be damaging from an SEO point of view, and set a poor precedent for writers submitting AI-generated content and expecting to be paid for it. I found this position and attitudes towards AI to be as interesting or possibly more so than the article I set out to write, which was a review of a fairly average article about AI in photography written by an AI chatbot.
I got to thinking about AI in the creative space, how it's being received, and concerns raised by creatives. In the past few weeks, I have personally seen more people concerned about AI as a creative tool than embracing it, I appreciate this might be because recommended articles will be somewhat targeted to me as a creative, and the people I engage with are working creatives who have concerns about the use of technology impacting their livelihoods. I considered the advances in technology and the potential applications, and I really don't want to dislike the amazing advances in technology.
Should We Fear the Machines?
I wondered about the other side of the advances in AI. Firstly, it's a huge achievement that the human race (specifically those working in AI development) should be proud of. I'm in awe of how quickly an AI chatbot can give a factually correct answer to a question, or write an article, or produce an assignment that would, at the very least, get a passing grade. I'm amazed by the realistic AI-generated images doing the rounds online. Sure, there are some imperfections, just like human artists, it's hard to draw hands! But as a proof of concept, it's staggering how realistic these images are. Why are we not embracing AI as the amazing achievement that it is? Well, mainly because of how it will be used by other people. We're concerned that AI will cost people their jobs, we're concerned that AI art will replace photographers and designers. Coding can be done by AI in a fraction of the time. I understand these concerns, but are these outcomes the fault of AI?
As a writer, I try to write things from a personal point of view; about the loss of my father, about becoming a father myself, and about my own experiences visiting new places, I hope that the machines won't be replacing me anytime soon as an AI chatbot wouldn't be able to describe our lived experiences, but it can regurgitate facts, and it can produce code pretty fast, or write an essay with basic facts sourced from the internet. There are absolutely some people already concerned about their jobs. AI can also produce images and video, and there have been some legitimate concerns about the source material that AI needs as input to learn from. There are ongoing arguments about the point at which AI is making use of existing copyrighted material or whether it can genuinely be considered an original piece of art. Until there's a solid precedent set, artists and creatives will be concerned about their work being reproduced and them not being credited or paid for it. Is this the fault of AI or the fault of the person choosing to use AI instead of hiring a human creative?
To demonstrate the power of AI art, all the images in this article were produced by the Lensa AI app using images of my face as an input prompt. I'm not sure why it produced the psychedelic sci-fi images, but that's what I got. I kinda like the sci-fi warrior aesthetic that has been assigned to me.
The Future for Artificial Intelligence
The past year or so has seen AI thrust into the mainstream. There are very ordinary people who may not be especially tech-apt using AI image-generating software and typing text prompts to AI chatbots. The amazing capabilities of AI image generators and text-based AI systems are impressive, to say the least, but also raise concerns in some people. I've heard many concerns from the people I speak with, ranging from "AI being able to produce content will make people lazy," through to "AI will take people's jobs," all the way to "AI will become self-aware and enslave the human race." Should the John Connors of the world be constantly looking over their shoulders?
Personally, I'm a little more optimistic. New technology that can perform human tasks has always been met with some skepticism. My parents weren't allowed to use calculators in math classes, while my generation had math exam questions specifically designed to ensure we knew how to use a calculator, as it had become an acceptable tool for the task at hand. However, we were still told by our teachers to learn the formula, as we wouldn't always have a calculator with us, which now seems like a very old-fashioned thing to say.
Will future generations make effective use of the instant access to information that the internet has provided? Will the kids of tomorrow embrace artificial intelligence as another tool in their creative arsenal? As photographers, we're already starting to embrace the use of AI in our workflow through the Adobe Sensei intelligent services. This has been met with less resistance than pure AI image-producing algorithms, but there are still many who prefer not to use these tools.
I don't think new technology and the advancement of AI is a bad thing. I'm always excited to see what amazing things the human race can discover and invent. The advances in AI technology astound me. For those who are worried that corporations might replace workers with AI and put people out of jobs or that clients will use AI-generated images instead of hiring human creatives, or students who might simply ask AI to produce their homework, I'd be inclined to ask if that makes AI bad, or should we be more concerned about the people using it? Is AI the problem, or are people the issue here?
If people are the issue, then people can be the solution. We live in a world where money matters, whether we like it to not. If AI-generated content is free or significantly cheaper, why wouldn't a company use it instead of hiring a human creative? Society would need to make it unpopular for corporations to overlook real human content. There are a few examples of society forcing the hand of the corporate world in modern history — sweatshops producing cheap clothing is deeply frowned upon. We know sweatshops exist, and when a large retailer is found to be using sweatshops or child labor, consumers often choose not to buy their goods, making it more profitable to be a more ethically conscious company. Therefore, if a large tech company made thousands of redundancies to have AI produce code and content, consumers would need to choose not to give money to that platform, as their behavior was deemed unethical. With that in mind, I'm very happy that Fstoppers have already chosen not to publish AI-generated content. I'm sure the other stuff writers are equally pleased at the decision.
I like to think that AI-generated art will never truly match human created art, and the public will always prefer something true and real over something churned out by artificial intelligence.
In conclusion, as a 40-year-old millennial blogger and a photography enthusiast, I have seen the benefits of AI in the photography industry. From editing tools to camera equipment and social media curation, AI has made photography more accessible and efficient. However, there are also drawbacks to consider, such as standardization and accessibility. Overall, I believe that AI has the potential to push the photography industry forward and I am excited to see how it will continue to shape the industry in the future.
- AI generated
It's unsurprising that the AI-generated article had a positive conclusion about AI in the photographic industry, showing its bias there.
What are your thoughts on artificial intelligence in photography or any creative industry? Is AI a problem, or should we embrace it? Let me know in the comments. I'm genuinely interested in people's thoughts on this topic. Fire away.
I'm a commercial photographer and 3D modeler. AI is a great tool for me to create textures for my CGI projects, to fill some photomontage backgrounds, create some mockups examples for product photography, etc. I don't use an AI image as my work, but as a reference to create my work.
In the field of commercial photography, AI images doesn't work for me due to the demands of my clients and the precise indications of how they want the photos, it is very difficult to do it through AI, since the colors, the type of lighting, the angle, the objects that appear in the image, their sizes, etc they have precise indications of how they will be done and so far, that cannot be done with AI.
Interesting to hear how you use AI in your workflow. Do you think AI could ever produce the type of precise images you create?
Interesting. How is it possible? Do you have an example??
I am fascinated by the whole concept of AI. I think that it will make people appreciate real art and writing, in the same way that hand-thrown pots, home cooked bread, and artisan clothing and jewelry are appreciated instead of mass production.
As someone whose trade skills were lost to digitalisation in the 1990s, I don't think we should fear it but make the most of the opportunities it brings.
Thank you. It feels like we’re living through some fascinating technical developments, interested to see what happens next.
As a commercial photographer, I'm convinced we should all be very, very concerned about how parasitic and fraudulent AI-produced images will soon be competing with our real, human-created art.
First: I truly question how anyone who calls themselves a photographer can actually claim a piece of Frankenstein AI-imagery is his or her own creation. Clearly, people who use it are posers and non-creatives who are too lazy or lack the talent or ambition to create art from their mind, and instead choose to simply enter a few lines of text in an app and let a computer come up with it. That's not just unethical, it's fraud, in my eyes, and I have zero respect for them.
Consequently, commercial clients must treat so-called "AI artists" with the same ostracization publishers do when considering hiring a known plagiarizer to write an article.
Second: The AI designers themselves readily admit the images from their products are stolen from accessing online datasets consisting of billions of copyrighted photos and artwork, all of which is collected and used commercially, without the consent of the original artist.
As copyright-holders, this is genuinely an industrial scale violation of our intellectual property rights, and, as happened with Napster and illegal downloaders two decades ago, there must be legal consequences for the software-makers as well as the users of the software.
I for one will not shed a tear for anyone who gets their asses sued.
Oh I absolutely agree that people generating art using AI are not the same as those who paint, draw, photograph, or write their own artistic creations.
As you’ve alluded to, the issue is the use case and the people using AI rather than the existence of AI itself.
My feeling is that AI has the potential to be a great tool, but there’s also huge potential for misuse.
You’re right, a couple of successful legal actions for copyright infringement would help slow down the abuse of AI recreating the artwork of others.
Setting that legal precedent won’t be an easy task though.
My biggest worry is that even if the legalities are settled within the next couple of months, and AI is regulated and subject to copyright, that it'll come too late. The technology is already stealing images by the billions daily, and the technology is advancing in capabilities exponentially as I type this.
It's use needs to be banned for commercial applications, and from photo sharing sites. 500px has already banned it. Flickr/Smugmug is considering it. Unfortunately, Facebook and Twitter will probably not. And that's why we need to act now.
I have a relative that went whole hog for the whole AI thing and kept posting her "creations." I asked her what part of the images she had created, and whether she had drawn or photographed them. She finally had to admit that all she did was type in parameters of what she wanted in her image. None of it was her own original work. Then she got mad at me and unfriended me.