Recently the prolific introduction of AI is rapidly transforming the world we know. So then “Just how artificial is intelligent art photography?” Although a play on words, this question is essential in predicting AI and Photography Future in art.
In this article, I would like to focus on how artificial intelligence (AI) is transforming our creative world, with particular emphasis on commercial photography, fine art photography, and art per se.
Artificial intelligence is already changing the world of photography and will also impact art. The extent of this influence is yet to be determined, but we, as artists and photographers, should try to understand how we will be affected.
When it comes to pure photography, AI has already proven its ability to create award-winning photographs under the guidance of a human which fooled a panel of seasoned judges. However, it has also been criticised for infringing on copyright laws by using elements of pictures taken by photographers to create AI-generated images while copying elements of popular styles and genres.
As AI-generated art becomes increasingly prevalent, we as artists and photographers must consider ways to protect our work from being used without our permission. The rise of new methods to safeguard images against AI use is inevitable, but only time will reveal how this will unfold. One solution currently available is Glaze, a software that ads a "cloke" layer that alters the image in a manner that is undetectable to humans, but not to AI bots. In the future, we will witness more sophisticated copyright or watermark triggers embedded that an AI generator will not be able to detect or will avoid. As time passes, the mechanisms available to make it harder for AI systems to replicate or use components of our work without consent will become more apparent. Such measures will reduce AI-generated copyright infringement and protect the rights of creators.
In commercial photography, the acceptance and popularity of AI will largely depend on the end client’s desires and how much they are willing to pay for a unique photograph. For example, a travel agent looking to feature a specific location may prefer to generate a picture using AI rather than purchasing stock footage, commissioning a photographer, or travelling to the venue themselves to photograph it. On the other hand, an upmarket restaurant offering a dining experience may prefer to showcase its specific dishes through original photography rather than turning to generic AI-generated images.
Regarding competition photography, the disclosure of RAW files will provide authenticity. Here, within the framework of the competition rules, the judges and organisers will be policing a minority of entries as most photographers find fulfilment in the challenge of photographing themselves and the pleasure of creating their work. I also predict that, just as with digital editing today, a new category will be included specifically for AI-assisted entries.
In the art world, AI is already inspiring artists in helping to generate fresh ideas and concepts, serving as a new tool for inspiration. Artists have always borrowed ideas from various sources, and AI provides a new source of inspiration. However, it is crucial to balance using AI as a tool for inspiration and maintaining authenticity and originality.
If I look back on Photoshop, when art filters were first introduced, many artists feared their work would become obsolete. However, as time has passed, we have seen that these filters, based on computer-generated algorithms, are predictable and often create a plastic, artificial effect. We have seen how they have been used to make “cheap” commercial art. As such, the usage of these art filters can be recognised by a trained eye a mile away. Perhaps AI-generated art will be less predictable, evolving into a new art form with unique qualities. Only time will tell.
AI has a long way to go should it ever replace high-end bespoke art. The intricate details and textures, the beauty of paint, and the originality of mixed media elements such as encaustic, charcoal, and resins, to name a few, all beautifully showcase the artists’ talent. There will always be a love for the real thing, and AI-generated art will not be able to replicate the emotional connection and physical presence of an authentic piece of art. Therefore, we as artists can take comfort in the fact that our unique, handmade pieces will always be highly valued and cherished by art lovers and collectors.
In addition to the originality of physical art, it’s worth noting that people still buy from people. Art lovers follow artists in flesh and blood, often immersing themselves in the artist’s narrative. Collectors and art enthusiasts want to participate in this journey and invest in the artist’s story. This human connection and emotional adoration for the artist and their work cannot be replicated by AI-generated art. The process of creating art, the artist’s experiences, emotions, and the story behind the artwork all contribute to the artwork’s value. Therefore, this personal appreciation for art impacts all three genres in the discussion today.
As AI and photography further advance, it's crucial not to overlook the potential of art generated by AI. Rather than viewing the rise of AI-generated art as a replacement for human art, it's the birth of a new art form. Just as Photoshop and digital photography were initially frowned upon, they eventually sparked a whole new art genre we now love and enjoy. AI has the potential to do the same. Take "Edmond de Belamy," for example, which recently sold for $432,000 at a Christie's auction in NY. This sale demonstrates that AI-generated art is on its way to becoming a legitimate art form with value in the art world. Although copyright laws surrounding AI-generated art are still unclear, they will be tested in court, and the laws will undoubtedly adapt. Therefore, it's essential to remain open-minded and embrace the potential of AI-generated art as a contemporary art genre that can coexist with human art.
The impact of AI on photography and art is yet to be fully realised; I agree that there will be enormous challenges, but opportunities will arise out of it. As AI continues to evolve and expand, it is essential to keep an open mind and adapt to the changing landscape of art and photography. It is up to artists and photographers to navigate this new landscape and find ways to use AI as a resource while maintaining the authenticity and originality of their work. It is yet another tool on the workbench of art.
In summary, we, as photographers and artists, need to be aware of the potential impact of AI on our work. Ignoring the trend will likely mean an exit from one’s practice, especially in commercial photography.
As a competition photographer, it is crucial to ensure that you can prove authenticity in your work. I would avoid any photography competition that does not have stringent guidelines in place or does not verify authenticity using a RAW file investigation.
As a commercial photographer, it is essential to offer a niche service that cannot be replicated by AI, thereby adding value to your service. To pove ownership, ensure you keep all your RAW files safely saved on the cloud and backed up on a hard drive. Also, be aware that if you convert your RAW files to DNG as part of your workflow, do not delete the original RAW file, as a DNG format cannot be used to prove authenticity, as they have been created out of the original data. On the note of cloud storage, forgive me for playing the devil’s advocate but; I sometimes wonder who has access to cloud storage, given that Google shut down certain AI developments citing a data breach; this is a discussion for another time.
As a fine-art photographer, you must create pieces that bear your unique signature, showcasing your originality. Finally, as an artist, especially where photography is involved, I suggest you document the entire process used to create an artwork that can be produced as proof of originality; again, RAW files are essential. Also work towards developing a unique signature that reflects your individuality, making sure you invite the public into your journey to establish a loyal audience.
As AI and photography further progress, it's crucial for photographers and artists to be mindful of the potential and risks associated with AI-generated art. By maintaining a clear focus on developing their individual style through experimentation, they can continue to thrive in the ever-changing art world. As AI technology continues to evolve, it's essential to stay ahead of the curve and embrace new creative possibilities. By integrating the power of AI with human creativity, photographers and artists can create groundbreaking works that bridge the gap between the traditional and the futuristic. Ultimately, it's about harnessing the potential of AI and photography further to push the boundaries of what's possible in art.
I trust this discussion, the first of what is to come, has helped bring some clarity on AI-generated art. Yours in Art, Martin Osner