Is A.I. the Death Knell of Photography?

Does A.I. (Artificial Intelligence) really spell the end for us photographers? I do concur somewhat with Roman Fox who wrote an article back in 2023, explaining in some terms that nothing can quite beat the “realness” of photography – holding a real camera, being out there and interacting with real people. In my view, there is no substitute for the tactility of making pictures with real tools.

I also believe that not all is gloom and doom – A.I. can indeed be a useful tool. I had previously alluded to the use of A.I. in my previous two blog posts (here and here), and I must say, that while I am impressed by the capabilities of current generative A.I. models, I can’t really shake off the discomfort about what this means as a whole for the future of photography.

The murkiness on the horizon still leaves some degree of uncertainty for us photographers – what’s left for us if our products and services are no longer needed?

A photographer looks at his camera at a photo gallery.
With the advent of A.I. generated media, what will happen to photography as a profession? Source - Generated with Microsoft Copilot Designer.

The Rise of Promptography

If this age is known by anything, it’s the proliferation of new terms entering the English dictionary.

“Promptography” – which is a portmanteau of “prompt” and “photography” seems almost self-explanatory. 

And no, I didn’t invent that word.

 Generate an image of an old dusty radiator that is illuminated by a window next to it.”

And boom! I got the below image. It would have been almost perfect had it been actually connected to the heat pipes.

Old Dusty Radiator - Generated with Meta A.I.
A.I. Generated depiction of an old dusty radiator. Image generated with Meta AI.

To be frank, I am not trying to diss on A.I. as with enough time, I am sure its capabilities will certainly improve.

The lines will certainly will blurred; and it may get harder to distinguish between artificially-generated content and those that were produced via conventional means.

Radiating Light, 2019, which recently won an award in 2023. One of my finest works.

Real, or Imagined?

If it isn’t already obvious, there is tinge of irony in this whole debacle about “artificial intelligence” – what is real? 

It’s hard to draw the line between what is real and imagined, especially in the day and age of Photoshop. I do post-process my images, and with A.I.-assisted editing tools built right into Adobe’s software, it would be hypocritical on one hand to criticise A.I., yet still reap the benefits of this wonderful technology.

So, for us photographers, is A.I. a friend or a foe? Where do we draw the line, if there is one at all?

Valley with Mountains - Generated with Meta A.I.
Valley with Mountains - Generated with Meta A.I.
Hooker Valley Track. Taken during my visit to New Zealand in December 2023.
Hooker Valley Track. Taken during my visit to New Zealand in December 2023.

What Does the Future Hold?

If you have made it this far into this article, you would have no doubt noticed that a number of images in this article were A.I.-generated. As you can imagine, I have found some use of this technology to augment and optimise my workflow. But in doing so, I had stopped sourcing some of my images from stock photography sites. 

It is a bit sad really, selfish even, but it is challenging resist the allure of the capabilities that A.I. brings to the table, especially with the flexibility that it affords me in tailoring images to my specific needs.

Vintage Camera with Photo on Desk
An old and vintage camera. Source - Generated with Microsoft Copilot Designer.

Perhaps, it is the authenticity of our work that will help us stand out, in the times to come.

Further Reading

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *