As artificial intelligence (AI) technology advances, so does the ability to use AI to create realistic images.
I’ve spent some time testing how good this new technology really is, to find out who has the creative control, how I feel about being removed from the process, and how I, as a photographer, can use this new technology while sitting in my living room in the middle of North Yorkshire.
There has been a lot of noise online about this new art form and I’ve been quietly experimenting with different projects. However, this one is by far my favourite.
But how to categorize them, not photographs and not paintings, somewhere in the middle maybe?
The death of the artist?
Does the plethora of new AI image generator applications spell the end for artists and photographers, or when Photoshop appeared and everyone feared it would destroy the creative industries, will it become just another tool in the creative arsenal? As a photographer, how can I use this new technology to my creative advantage?
As someone who has been creating images in one form or another my entire life, this whole process puts me at odds with the legitimacy of calling any of those images my creations. Although I’ve spent a lot of time and effort developing phrases and prompts and experimenting to tease out artwork that doesn’t look like a robot or child created it. My early endeavors led to a spectrum of disasters, with sometimes comical and sometimes horrific results.
I still feel kind of detached from the creative process.
After all, they are rendered by an algorithm written by a programming genius or a team of engineers who put my HTML and PHP skills to shame.
However, I find them beautiful, alluring and mystical, and I also feel a sense of belonging. Like Golem and his ring, they are my darling…
All that glitters isn’t gold, is it?
As I write this, Hannah, my daughter, just walked in and is immediately outraged by my parentage questions. As she puts it, “The computer created the images, not you. You are already there. You’re finding it, dad. Anyone can do it.”
Is that the basic point? “everyone can do it”
Am I like a miner or a metal detector? Scratch the surface to reveal a mishmash of merged images, the finished rendering as the final computer image. So does this process in and of itself make him legitimate? After all, it takes some skill to create prompts and descriptions, like the guy in the field who has some skill with his beeping device when trying to find the ancient coins. Am I not also entitled to the treasure?
According to the software company I created them with, I have copyright control, so I can actually sell them as unique pieces of art under my name… but should I?
What should I do with them if I’m not selling them as original prints?
Originals or Deepfakes?
Some prompters use the names and styles of other artists to recreate works that would not or could not exist, such as B. Ronald Mcdonald on the moon by Davinci or Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, but instead of sunflowers they use Donald Trump’s rather comical head. The list goes on and the speed at which they are created is breathtaking. That same speed becomes meaningless when you think about how fast the algorithms learn and evolve, are we just feeding the beast?
Calls for plagiarism have been growing louder lately, and with companies like Getty Images banning all AI-generated artwork from the stock site, there will undoubtedly be more controversy.
None of the images in this series had any artist names as prompts, but somehow some of them remind me of something… I can’t really put my finger on it. Is it someone I recognize or a style I’ve seen before?
Who are you?
Copyright issues aside, this also raises a moral question: if these particular portraits were made from millions of photos from around the internet, there will be times when the resemblance is so overwhelming that it could cause harm, offense, or pain.
I’ve done several reverse image lookup searches on google and have yet to find a match, maybe there never will be. A nose from here, a pair of eyes from there, a nice smile from there, all the features needed to create a face seamlessly stitched together might make it impossible to find an exact match, but I doubt it, we all have a lookalike or two… It’s probably just a matter of time.
At the end of the day
I say never be complete, I say stop being perfect, I say let’s… let’s move on, let the chips fall where they want.
– Tyler Durden
So irrelevant movie quotes aside, where do I find myself with these images….
AI is here to stay. In fact, Photoshop has been using it for years and recently announced plans to introduce sci-fi level AI integration into future Adobe software.
“The camera never lies” is so dated, even without AI. It seems that soon, if not already, you won’t need a camera to take a picture of someone. Just ask the algorithms.
How it will help my practice is undecided, although I have some exciting ideas that may or may not come to fruition…
About the author
Based in North Yorkshire, Jason Ferdinando serves local and national clients. He specializes in photography and creative direction for small to large businesses. You can see more of his work on his website and Instagram account. This article was also published here and shared with permission.