The recent surge of photography and AI being combined has certainly ruffled some feathers, but what is really at the heart of this debate?
Cameras have always been seen as tools to capture reality, while artists, such as painters and illustrators, often present their vision or interpretation of a scene, adding their creativity to it however they wanted. With the combination of digital photography and generative AI, photographers now have the ability to inject elements into a scene in much the same way an illustrator or painter would, with considerable less effort, yet it seems that there is some resistance against photography that is not depicting reality or truth.
Take this scene from my local beach below. I’ve used Photoshop’s generative AI to insert an old broken boat into the photo at a place and size of my choosing.
The original – and the AI augmented version with the old boat:
Which do you prefer, and why?
I’ve always loved this photo of Ponto Beach, and after seeing it again recently, I thought “boy, an interesting foreground element sure would’ve been nice for this.” I then remembered that the latest beta release of Photoshop can do this, so I spent some time working on it and came up with the results I was most happy with (above). I still had to come up with the idea of what I wanted, how I wanted it to look, where it would be, how large to make it, and how it would be oriented in the scene. But after typing in all the details for what I wanted, it took less than 90 seconds to render the boat into the scene, including the surrounding sand and stones that all look perfectly natural and real, along with accurate lighting and shadows. Amazing, right?!
While some argue that using AI in photography is a form of cheating, even calling it “fake”, others more easily appreciate the creative end result. It’s also important to consider how a photo is being presented. Anything presented as documentary or photojournalism is expected to be free of unnatural edits or fictitious elements, but with digital art, nearly anything goes.
The debate surrounding photography and AI is complex, and it’s likely only going to heat up, as AI tools become more advanced. While some may see it as a threat to traditional photography, others view it as an opportunity for increased creativity and artistic expression.
What’s your opinion?
Do you value truthful images over images that are augmented for artistic benefit, or does it even matter? Which type of photo would most likely find a home in a picture frame in your house? Let me know what you think in the comments. I’d love to hear what people think about the blending of photography and AI.