All of the new artificial intelligence we’re seeing in the photography world has got me thinking about how it affects what we do. How we think about our creating images might change, no? How about our processes and the actual creative part of those processes?

What options are out there?

I recently received a copy of the updates Adobe Photoshop Elements to write about. What I heard as I was listening to their promo video was about how this particular software was geared toward hobbyists and social media mavens. Included are AI-led prompts and steps to help you along the way as you edit an image, create a video or create social media posts.

Having just listened to more updates and information on Adobe Sensei during Adobe MAX, this technology is also being used across other Adobe platforms such as Photoshop and Premiere Pro. Some of the features are assistance in replacing skies, adding motion to images, easier selections and even fixing a face/head that may need to be tilted a bit to look better.

Skylum is also coming out with an AI-driven post-processing tool, LuminarAI. Being a Luminar affiliate has allowed me to see some of the behind the scenes of what all LuminarAI will be offering. Many common editing tasks are being simplified. Further than that, though, are ways to creatively enhance your images, add fog, replace skies and even edit portraits almost automatically with their AI tools. It will save you time … that I’m sure of.

ON1 also has its own version of AI for portraits, ON1 Portrait AI. If you look on their website, you can see how with just a click of a button your portraits are automatically enhanced.

I’m actually quite amazed by how AI works with these post-processing upgrades to software and apps we use on a daily basis.

artificial intelligence flower

What are we gaining?

The promotions tell us we will be saving time. I do believe that in the cases of wedding and portrait or event photographers this will be a big time saver. I think we might be gaining one more way to expand our creativity (which will be in contrast to my next paragraph). When given tools that are easy to use, we are more apt to play. We won’t be afraid to press a button and ask what happens if I do that.

Using AI might show us a way to edit an image that we never would have considered before. Maybe that will send us off on a whole other creative path. I’m a huge believer in asking the question “what if?” and many of the tools provided with AI allow us to explore that much more easily than learning selections, layers, luminosity masks, etc.

Play. Being able to just play with edits and not spend hours in order to get an outcome could be quite beneficial. For someone like me who uses very few of the functions in most of the post-processing software I use, just clicking around, sliding sliders and using something that might be a quick-fix sounds kind of fun.

artificial intelligence fox

What are we losing?

I’ll admit, I’m not a huge fan of AI, but then that’s not totally true either. I love presets, for example. They are great starting points to use to get to your vision for an image. AI takes presets a few steps further. I still feel like it’s cheating though. Anyone who learned film photography might feel the same way.

A few concerns I have about Artificial Intelligence post-processing

  • There will be less creative learning. This may or may not be true but I feel like using these tools makes it easy for those who have not studied art, color theory and composition to create decent images.
  • We won’t have to really LEARN photography. If so much can be fixed in post-processing, why bother learning proper exposure, shutter speed and what ISO means. I feel like we already see some of this out there.
  • No attention spans. This is already happening anyway. Everyone is always on phones, heads down not seeing the world around them. Making it even easier to shoot, edit and share our images straight from our devices just magnifies this. I get it, I’m not THAT old, but I find it sad that people are missing out on the beauty around them.
  • We become lazy. No one wants to do the work anymore. We live in a world of instant gratification. I understand businesses need to make money and keep up with the times, but when everything is being done for us with one or two clicks, we don’t have to learn how the process works any longer. We no longer have to get up for sunrise, we can just replace the sky.
  • Losing our creative thinking. Are we losing our individuality too? Again, we’ve seen this with Instagram filters. Users creating images using the same filters, same presets, same replacement skies and so on. At what point is an image not your own any longer? At what point are all these images going to look more and more alike?

It’s still photography

Photography is still photography to me. I still want to create the best image I can before I ever press that shutter button. I still believe you have to start with a good image in the first place. An image that is not sharp cannot be fixed perfectly by AI.

I’m also unsure how artificial intelligence can know what my original composition goal is when creating an image — I don’t see it being able to fix my composition in that case. There are some recommended cropping tools out there that can help you after the fact though.

I’m torn about artificial intelligence. As I said, it can be fun to see what happens if but I also feel like at some point we’re losing our own voice and creative self in the process. Will I give it a try? Of course, I will, because I like to play and ask what if. It’s just another tool to use, another crayon in the crayon box to color with.