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  • Writer's pictureRobert Adcock

PHOTOGRAPHY IS DEAD!

Updated: Oct 2, 2023



Close this and any similar website and throw cameras in the bin because AI is here. Not a bad innings I suppose, two hundred and one years, but now photography as we have known it is being laid to rest, it’s life-force obliterated by AI. If you are thinking of signing up to one of my training sessions or classes at: www.landsend.photography/learn think again, photography is dead you need to learn AI ……………..

OR

Ignore that opening paragraph, take it with a huge pinch, nay bucket of salt, pour scorn on all you read or perceive about the death of photography and read on.

This blog (my opinion) is for photographers who like me cannot escape the gleeful or fearful, depending on which side of the fence orators reside, shouts of “photography is dead” or “AI has replaced photography” well guess what it hasn’t and furthermore IT NEVER WILL.

“But Robert”, I hear you cry, “look how far AI technology has come in such a short time. Given another few short months and the technology will rendering images indistinguishable from a real photographwhat then? Why will anyone need a photographer?”

As a generalisation my thoughts are as follows:

Here, now, today AI image generators are simply incapable of depicting the aesthetics of an actual photograph, nowhere near. I study images every day and AI generated images are all obviously computer graphics, there is always at least one egregious detail which gives it away as a robotic illustration

There are faults here but the most glaring is the long exposure effect in the water.

“That’s today but what about this time next year when the technology has improved exponentially. Why would I employ a photographer, they’re expensive, can be temperamental and can make mistakes!”

Let’s say that’s correct and we are in a future where AI can make images indistinguishable to the real thing. Take a step back and think about photography for what it was, has been and is, an art form. Photography is directly related to human expression, think about a landscape devoid of people, like this one below.


Q. How many people are in this picture? “None, zero, zilch, nada”

A. Actually ONE, the photographer, in this case me, I am in the landscape. Without my intervention the photograph would not exist, I chose the spot to place the camera, I set the exposure, ISO, & shutter speed, I chose which ND filter to use. This is MY photograph and the next one I make will be different. The camera settings will not be identical, the light will be different, so many factors make this image my interpretation of the landscape, without my human input this image would look different. I’ve spent over thirty years learning my craft, honing my skills and refining my creative process and guess what I love the process of making a photograph. Remove the human intervention from art and you’ve removed the humanity.

During my classes I have in the past asked students to photograph a particular scene, once complete we compare the photographs. We were all in the same location looking at the same subject yet each and every photograph is different, some slightly, some massively and this is just another reason reason why AI will not replace photography, human intervention makes the photograph not algorithms. Remove the human intervention from art and you have removed

In 1822 some detractors of photography stated that it would replace painting, it didn’t. that was then but AI will replace drawing, sculpture, painting, graphic design, etc: It won’t, as stated above people like to be creative.

“OK but what about product photography and advertising? It’s already used there!”

I agree product photography has already seen an increase in the amount of images created through AI but that’s lower end products. All the art directors, producers and creative directors I have spoken with have told me they are not considering replacing their photographers with programme writers. Again I say it, creatives enjoy what they do.

So is photography dead? No! Is photography dying? NO! Not in landscape photography, not in product photography, not in portrait photography and it is not replacing photojournalism and documentary photography.

A couple of final considerations for you to contemplate - people enjoy making photographs, the process and joy they gain from learning new processes, producing great images and capturing special moments can never be replaced by algorithms. And the camera manufacturers we have come to know, love and trust are still developing cameras, they certainly don’t see AI as a threat to photography so why would we.
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