If you’re a photographer who makes a living photographing people, you need to be prepared.
I’ll be the first to admit that as a landscape photographer I don’t pretend to know much about the art of photographing people. However, I do know that most of the money in photography comes from photographing people. Weddings, portraits, headshots, family photos, fashion, sports: you name it and it probably affects people.
If you haven’t been following the news at all, you’ve probably caught the recent spate of AI-generated imagery from platforms like Dall-E-2, where you could type in search terms and get a plethora of different results, sometimes with chilling realism or comical glitches. From its infancy it has created works of art good enough to win the odd competition. The results are very good or bad on average, but it’s really interesting to see what it can produce.
What happens when you take that power and give it a little more direction, especially in the photography industry?
The end of professional photography
Lee Morris covered this topic a few months ago and presented examples of people who don’t exist made in seconds with insanely detailed results. I cover this in my video above, but take it a step further to explain what happens when you put yourself in the subject? I recently came across a service that does just that, so of course I gave it a try.
The service I stumbled upon is avatarai.me which currently costs money. I assume that these services will spread very quickly. They ask you to send in 20 pictures of yourself: 10 face close-ups, 5 chest pictures and above, and 5 full body pictures. Within a few hours you will receive a series of images that are themed based on their respective services. For example, Christmas is a hot topic generated by this service, more on that later.
Here are some of the pictures I got back. I am, but they are not me. Some of these are frighteningly good while giving no direction to the system that created them. When you start thinking about what the possibilities could be with just a little guidance, you really start to see how much this is going to change the photography industry.
Headshots, holiday snaps and stock photos
Let’s start small and be realistic. I don’t expect a photographer reading this to make their income just from headshots or vacation photos, but I can imagine many helping to subsidize studio costs and residual income with studio sessions of various kinds.
Coincidentally, the service I used provided some examples of professional headshots. are they perfect Absolutely not. Can I use it professionally? Not yet. But imagine a web service that just creates professional headshots, where you can set a few parameters, such as: B. Adjust your face structure and eye color to something like “reality” and then get 100+ images delivered of you in a professional setting. You don’t have to dress up, work with a photographer, or even leave the house.
This is now possible. That’s not something in a few years. Give an AI service a little more processing power, a little more time, and command it to do one thing, like: B. professional headshots and this will definitely be a service that people will start using. This will absolutely affect working photographers now.
The service also returned a few vacation photos that are far from perfect. But if I continue the above sentiment of using a service with a direction and more power, I suspect the results will only get better. We’re not quite at a point where you can operate the AI images of four family members and get holiday postcards back, but I think we’re not that far away. You don’t have to argue with the kids or your partner, buy outfits, or worry about a number of individual factors.
Think of services like Shutterstock and Getty, which offer tons of generic stock images for various purposes. Why keep photographers paying for more images or people when they can just use their own libraries to create images themselves? This could happen now and directly impact photographers who make money from stock photos of people.
Let’s go one step further and consider where this is leading. Lee already covered this pretty well in his article, showing the ability to create fake people in portrait or editorial settings. That comes. Imagine you are a major clothing brand and you don’t need to pay a photographer, makeup artist, model, etc. to create images of a new clothing line. You simply provide the service images of the new products and let it go to work to create realistic images that you can use without worrying about copyright, usage rights or even something controversial like. B. the model in the photos who may get negative press (think Kanye). .
I suspect that a company will start or already develop this service and will work with big fashion brands in the future and completely change the industry. Think about how much it benefits businesses not having to worry about many of the factors that go into creating editorial imagery for advertising campaigns, as I highlighted above. Something similar has already happened in the industry on a smaller scale. If you visit a web shop for a clothing brand, you can find images without faces and clothes swapped on ready-made mockup images.
If you are a wedding photographer and feel confident, I think even this market could be impacted in the future. Imagine you are at a wedding 10 years from now and are instructed to take as many pictures of the wedding as you want on your iPhone 24 or Pixel 17. Then everyone puts all the pictures from the wedding in a folder, delivers them to some kind of wedding AI generator and creates aesthetically pleasing wedding photos that reflect the moment without hiring a wedding photographer.
What a time to be alive. I’m not going to say the sky is falling, nor am I going to say this is the end of professional photography. I think it will impact monetization in the industry. It won’t make photography obsolete as a profession, but it will pressure the industry to adapt and change. I think it will absolutely impact people looking to make a living in portrait photography in the future. Do you agree? What do you think of these services? Do you think it won’t change anything or revolutionize the future?