Too Many Images... Honesty
A few weeks ago I was listening to an article on the radio about kids (students) using these new AI or content writing apps, like ChatGPT, to write their papers for class. These new programs produce a product that is so difficult to detect. With a few words of prompt, a well written, original literary work can be churned out in a few minutes. Since it is an "original" work, the paper will not be "caught" by plagiarism programs teachers and professors count on to root out fraudulent work. Content writers in every genre were (are) up in arms (<- I am going to have to check out the etymology on that one) and rightfully so, they
just lost jobs.
Last weekend, a well respected photographer that I follow, from the Outer Banks, Wes Snyder (check out his work! loverly), opened up the conversation regarding AI Photo Generators. He posted, on FB, 4 great images and splashed all over them "FAKE", so as to be sure that folks understand that these images are not real in any way. They looked real...
I felt compelled to comment. To the effect of "this was bound to happen. AI has infiltrated art, music, literature and many everyday aspects we don't even consider, so why would we think photography would be exempt". I think artists, in general, would like to believe that this infiltration or take over can not happen to art because of the subtleties and intrinsic nature of art.
It was not so long ago that your clothes were made by humans, your soap, your cars, your food... Today we can get nearly anything our hearts desire within days or even hours. What do we have to wait for these days - besides the line at the DMV? We have become part of a machine of consuming - we have so much stuff in our homes and then we go rent a storage unit because our house is full (I haven't parked in my garage in years). So it goes with the consumption of content. What is IG with out its perfect reels and images? What is FB without our snaps of dinner and vacation?
Don't get me wrong, the internet is a fabulous thing - I remember both sides - when we only had three channels of shit on the TV to choose from. We were marveled when we went babysitting and the folks had cable. Woohoo - Mind blown. It is great to be able to ask Google anything and have the answer immediately or at least AN answer. We can ask Alexa to play this or do that. We can talk to Siri in all different accents. I remember piling through the encyclopedia set if my question was so pressing. My mom even bought that fancy set of encyclopedia Brittanica. Pheww I can't even imagine how much my mom paid for that, but as they say knowledge is power.
I digress.... Artificial Intelligence through its giga lines of algorithms knows better than we do? Knows us better than we know ourselves?
When I ask for "riding horses in Montana" google can show me a ton of images and an AI Photo Content Creator app offers me a group of folks riding horses in a mountainous region. and its a decent image. With a little tweaking, details are refined and presto you didn't have to pay a commercial photographer, models, animal rental company, ranch, lighting specialists, etc... a dime. You didn't even have to pay a stock photography company.
Another memory from the "wayback machine"... My senior year of high school, I was chosen to go to a summer program at RIT (Rochester Institute of Technology). For a week I was privy to some of the best technology in photography and graphics of those days - 1988 that is. The most impressive to me was going in to this huge room, 80% filled with A computer. This mega computer could, pixel by pixel, move a bikini clad model onto the hood of a fancy car. Madness, I say!!! We were all amazed at the possibilities of digital photography and graphics. The capacity to alter two images to their pixel core was pure magic. The only way to do this prior to that moment was, in my case, take a picture of a ball, a picture of a cat and a picture of a boy. Develop, Print in the darkroom, cut out the individual images glue them into their new formation (a boy standing on a ball being ogled by a giant cat). Then take ANOTHER picture of the composite for the finished product. Simply writing out this process took more time than what can be accomplished now with your phone.
I giggle at the above process - it was an assignment in my FIRST, HS photography class. I baby sat that kid for years and yes, they had cable.
So, we have Photoshop and now AI Content creators... to be truthful I have always been resistant to these new fangled ways of making images. I will admit I was renitent to even moving to digital photography, something about the quality of film or the honesty inherent in film (as I mentioned above, it's a challenge to change things in film). I have a love hate relationship with Photoshop ( I use Lightroom, this program can change things but not to the extent of Photoshop). I do smooth some wrinkle lines or fix blemishes sometimes or take out that whisp of hair. I don't remove people but I will remove a light post, I will push back a background. I do try to stay as true to real life as possible because to me that is the essence of photography, to record a moment such as it is. This is what I strive for.
So, yes, there will be commercial photographers that throw in the towel, there will be portrait photographers who will put down their cameras. There will be fantastical images that photographers try to push off as real. But I plan to continue to be honored by folks who allow me to take too many images of there wedding, HS Senior, business event, birthday party, anniversary, engagement or celebration. I plan on continuing to be your time traveling guide - to take those honest moments of the past.
As Always, Kyra
PS - Going back and reading my work is always important, fix stuff, switch it around... check graaaammer. In this one, I noticed, perhaps, a tinge of resentment towards AI or photoshop or even automation. I could chock it up to getting old and I'll start using "whippersnapper" more often. I see a lot of benefit in automation and even AI but I suppose I miss the texture and feel of something hand made, crafted. Things that took thought and time. I think it's important to recognize the value of the time it can take to create something unique and beautiful. I have often mentioned "too many images"... Maybe it's the "too much" or "too many" I am stumbling on. Thoughts, maybe, for another time. Thank you for reading and as always, I love your comments and feed back! -KR