Navigating the AI era
By Excio Photo Community profile image Excio Photo Community
3 min read

Navigating the AI era

In less than 12 months, people worldwide have generated 15 billion images. This raises a question - to what end?

2023 has been one of the most disruptive years in photography. In less than 12 months, people worldwide have generated 15 billion images - more than what photographers captured in 150 years! This raises a question - to what end?

Does this mean people suddenly felt the need to create all these images? Even excluding the illustrations, graphics, and mock-ups generated by AI, what about photographs? Isn't using a real camera to take photos easier?

Anyone who has tried generating AI images can attest - it's addictive! You simply input a few words into your prompt, and voila, you get four unique versions of images. Plus, there's the element of surprise, as you can't be entirely sure what the AI will produce. This uncertainty triggers a dopamine rush in our brain, leaving us craving more. The more we experiment, the more rewarding the experience becomes. It doesn't matter if we need all the images we generate - the process is simply enjoyable. It also allows us to explore different styles and genres, enhancing our understanding of photography and photographers - as controversial as that might sound.

Image of a leaf generated with Kirlian photography method by Ana Lyubich, using DALL-E.

In contrast, traditional photography often requires hours, days, or even months of waiting for the perfect moment. This can sometimes lead to disappointment when the final images don't match our vision. Instead of feeling rewarded, we might feel inadequate, especially when comparing ourselves to popular social media photographers. (If you have ever experienced this feeling, check out our 'Beyond Imposter Syndrome' course that starts 5 February).

While AI experimentation is fun and potentially useful, we photographers must promote awareness of photography's transformative power and its value as a creative outlet.

Tongariro winter sunrise by Peter Laurenson

Ignoring AI technology is not the solution. AI is evolving and integrating into almost every aspect of photography, from gadgets that assist with camera settings to post-processing tools.

Complaining about AI 'stealing' photographers' work is futile. After all, our shared images on platforms like Facebook and Instagram have helped train these AI systems. It's better to view this as contributing to a tool that will eventually assist us.

So, what can we do as photographers to ignite interest in photography and increase awareness of authentic photography?

Firstly, continue creating and sharing photographs. Although some may be used for AI training, the impact of sharing your work outweighs this. By keeping photos only on hard drives, they'll never inspire or educate others. Share them on your website and link them to your social media for more security.

Secondly, focus on your niche and avoid comparing yourself to other photographers. Complaints about AI replicating styles are common, yet photographers often imitate each other too.

Comical proof that all travel bloggers’ Instagram photos are essentially clones
Hold on to your hats, and get ready for an onslaught of near-identical Instagram shots.

Consider the 'feet out of the tent' trend or 'traveller in the hat' photos - many emulate a similar style initiated by someone in the past. Even in modern portrait photography, where 'lifestyle' shoots are standard, the best photographers capture great moments, albeit in a common style. Find and embrace your unique niche, regardless of social media trends. Our goal as photographers is to demonstrate what's possible with a camera and highlight the advantages of photography over AI generation. Though the rewards of capturing the perfect shot might be delayed, the process offers immense mental health benefits, teaches new perspectives, and enables self-expression.

By Telegraph

Thirdly, keep experimenting and never put your camera away. Even if inspiration seems elusive, push yourself to go out and take photos. When sharing your work online, include the story behind each photograph - what inspired you, what makes it special, and why you like it. AI-generated images may be captivating, but they lack soul and story.

Here's to 2024 – a year filled with inspiration, a new golden age for photography, and the emergence of many creative souls!

By Excio Photo Community profile image Excio Photo Community
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