Will A.I. make photography irrelevant?

Only if you let it.

When I first picked up a camera, I was taking classes and being graded. Because of this I pushed into more expressive images and techniques. I spent more time working a scene and thinking about the final result. Knowing others would judge it made me take care with the craft. That and because film was finite.

When I was no longer taking classes and being graded, photography waxed and waned in my life and when it waxed it was mostly in a documentary style – snapshots if you will. I took pictures of the places I went and the things I did, but I didn’t craft them. At least not often. I didn’t spend hours in the woods with small things like I do now.

This difference in my photography became evident when I went looking for some pictures in albums I have in the house. Albums?! Remember those?

Anyway, I was struck by how spontaneous some of the shots were and how weird. Like car and motorcycle shows. I took tons of pictures when I went to those. Why? I guess for the memories or that they were cool cars, but what’s the purpose? What the heck are they doing besides hiding in a photo album I almost never look at? I have a ton of shots from motorcycle events, too. Rallies and gatherings I went to. Road trips. There are pictures of people whose names I can’t even remember anymore. For a while I took photos of hotel rooms my husband and I stayed in before we’d had a chance to explode our luggage all over them. Fun in a way to remember the nice places we visited, but weird. Basically snapshots. Recording the day-to-day stuff of my life. Like this –

Hey! A snap of a snap. Christmasy and cute with a photobombing cat in front of the fire.

Why do I never take “snapshots” with my “good camera”? Is that how I’ve come to think of it now I have a phone which does the job for snapshots? The phone is the regular camera and my G9 is too good for that? How very weird.

Back then my camera was my camera. Even though for years I had two of them and later three, I never really thought of them in terms of which was the “good camera”. They were all good.

I promise this will connect. Recently I posted about whether photography is “art” or not and you may have noticed that I didn’t dwell on A.I. Mostly because I haven’t given it a lot of thought and also because I’m not that worried about it affecting what I do and why I do it. This blog is more than about the photos in it. It’s about the story of how I got those photos. It’s the story of the places I visit. What I found there that intrigued me. What surprised me? It’s more than just a single photo of the iconic view.

And that’s what’s going to separate human-created art from machine-created art. If you derive any of your income from stock photography, I’d be looking for a way to replace that right now. Pretty pictures of food. Moody landscapes. People walking down a path. A bird flying through a beautiful sunlit meadow. All of them can be artificially generated by a computer. Right now. By you.

What will be the value of your photography then? If the final image can be created without paying a person who has paid for a camera, worked to gain knowledge, traveled to a location, took the picture, then edited it; what’s in it for you? What is left?

The story. The exploration. The connection with your surroundings, which for me is nature. I’ve said over and over again that my real purpose in producing the pictures I do is that I’m out in nature. Seeing interesting or unusual things. Finding overlooked scenes and subjects. All these things keep me going out there and as a bonus, I discover new things to research and learn about. In short, a photography practice that is about more than just the photos.

So maybe I should be taking snapshots with my good camera. Those are part of my story. Photos that are about and for me, can’t be made by a machine that isn’t part of my life. They’re personal. They’re intimate. They’re specific in a way that an A.I. generated image can’t be – those will forever be generic in the sense that they have no connection to me and by extension to you. If you’re reading this I assume you want a connection to me. The contents of my hard drive, certainly, but also of my head. Why did I take that photo? Why am I showing it to you? What do I want you to experience here? That’s what’s going to keep photographers and all artists relevant. Connection. Human connection. Because you can’t cuddle with a mainframe.


One thought on “Will A.I. make photography irrelevant?

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  1. WordPress’s anti-spam filters do a pretty good job and almost nothing gets by them. But this did. I’m not approving the comment directly because I don’t want the links to the bogus websites etc., but it does illustrate my point. I’d bet you a lot of money that this is AI generated –

    I found this article to be very interesting and thought-provoking. I think it’s important to consider the role that technology plays in the future of photography. As AI becomes more advanced, it’s possible that it could be used for creating photographs that are indistinguishable from those taken by humans. While this could potentially make photography less relevant, I don’t think it will necessarily make it obsolete.
    Photography is an art form and an expression of creativity, and I believe that it will always remain relevant. Even if a computer program can create a photo that looks just like one taken by a human, it will lack the emotion and feeling that can come with a photograph taken by an artist. Additionally, photographers will still be needed to take photos for commercial purposes, as AI may not be able to capture the right atmosphere or mood that a human photographer can.
    In conclusion, I think while AI may make photography less relevant, it won’t make it obsolete. As long as people appreciate the art of photography, it will remain an important part of our lives.

    I mean, look at it. From the opening sentence to the Additionally section and that pat conclusion – who talks like this? Who puts this much grammarly perfection into a comment and then leaves out the paragraph breaks? It reads like a very careful book report or something – 1. Engage the reader by agreeing with her points, 2. Expand on those points, 3. Conclude with more reinforcing statements. OMG, hilarious. But quite fun to include here so you know that things are getting slick and plausible if you don’t look at them too closely.

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