A photo entirely generated by AI: the cover of Photo Answers questions the future of the profession
For a few months, on any social network, you have undoubtedly been confronted with images generated by programs. Objects, landscapes and even portraits, a few commands are enough to obtain a sometimes very convincing image. Admittedly, often, the “cliché” obtained borders on the disturbing valley and one realizes the trickery. However, technology is changing by leaps and bounds, and if you happen to buy the March 2023 issue of the magazine Photo Answers (published by Reworld Media, owner of the Digital“) the cover photo might look completely normal to you.
When AI is in the news
However, this old sailor posing at night does not exist. Indeed, the picture is totally artificial, made by an automated program. To ask ourselves questions about the future of the profession, about our relationship to developments in new technologies and photography, Answers asked the AI Midjourney”to conceive the photo of a sailor at night, in front of his boat, in rainy weather, taken using a medium format film camera and with bokeh” It is clear that the result is stunning. Even observing the raw result, devoid of the initials and the bands of the cover, well advised whoever could say that the image is not from a real case.
Towards the uprising of the machines?
That being said, what we see is only the end result: more than 300 tries were necessary to obtain a conclusive result, the reproduction of textures and skin being always very complicated for an AI. This still gives an advantage to a traditional camera and to the photographer behind his viewfinder. This does not prevent a company like Shutterstock – as Thibaut Godet reminds us in his editorial – from approaching a company specializing in the processing of artificial images, Dall-E, to offer images generated by AI in its base. As a way to eventually replace the photographer, and above all to achieve economies of scale, no doubt.
The real photo, the prerogative of man
Nevertheless, Photo Answersthrough the voices of its editor-in-chief Thibaut Godet and its founder Philippe Durand, recalls that photographing means “write with light” (contraction of φωτoς, Pictures : light, clarity and γραφειν, graphein : paint, draw, write) and that no light was captured for this cover image, it is not a photo. Men and their boxes are therefore not yet obsolete in this area, even if the machines sometimes seem to want to move forward without them.
Number 357 of Photo Answers will be released on February 9, 2023 on newsstands for €7.50.