Artificial Intelligence, a photographers friend or foe?

Jun 24, 2023 | Technical

“Show notes”

On this weeks podcast Sam Hollis and Marcus Ahmad talk about Al. How long has

itreally been with us? How has it been utilised by photographers in the past and

how much are you really using it already? Almost certainly since the onset of digital

photography. Then we move onto the Al of today, ChatGPT and other tools. Are

they a friend or foe and how could we make the best use of them to our advantage

as photographers?

What surprises Marcus is the speed at which current Al technologies have

improved so rapidly. And Sam is finding out how Al can help photographers

n from technicians to directors.

Along the way we chat about

The Yamaha DX7 keyboard

What’s an art director?


The James Web Space Telescope

“Show transcription”

Sam: Marcus, how are you doing?

Marcus: I’m good, Sam. It’s been a busy old week. Lots of photography related activities going on, so yeah, well, happy.

Sam: That’s excellent. So, would you like to tell us about what we’re going to talk about in this podcast, Marcus?

Marcus: Yeah. On this week’s show, we’re going to be talking about a subject that I’m sure every photographer has been discussing and lamenting lately. It’s AI. Friend or foe?

Sam: Yeah, interesting topic. It does come up a lot at the moment. And first, though, I’m going to give my start of the Day. So, start of the day today is that website visitors spend 57% of their time above the fold. And what we mean by above the fold is that’s the bit of the website you first see when you land on it, the top bit. So that means you need to get your message really clearly there. You need to say what you need to say. In fact, that’s quite interesting, as I was chatting to somebody who I met on LinkedIn literally about half an hour ago, and his website, above the Fold, said nothing. It had a picture, nothing else, no clue what it was a picture of a dog. So was he a kennels? There was nothing apart from this dog. So, yeah, you need to get a very clear message above the fold, because people spend a lot of time there and if it doesn’t say the right thing, they’re going to leave.

Marcus: And, Sam, I still see websites where you have a splash page as an enter page. I mean, how does that work in this day and age?

Sam: I have no idea. But what we really are here to talk about, Marcus, is AI. So do you want to make a start?

Marcus: AI can seem a rather yet another existential threat to our photography businesses. Let’s talk about this. Let’s really see what’s going on here. I’ve been a photographer nearly 30 years, and in that time, I’ve seen so many threats that have come and stayed really digital photography. We saw that as a threat and people were saying, oh, the business would never be the same again. Lots of things, it seems like we’re always under attack.

Sam: Yeah. But then, as you’ve sort of seen, they eventually become your friend. A lot of these things.

Marcus: and there’s no doubt, like the digital, imagine going back to film both my sit in suit film, and I’m changing them. Why? Even though I can still see the beauty in it. I’m going to tell a little story here. Before I did photography, I was a musician as a bass player. And I remember distinctly in the early 80s, working in a music shop, selling guitars, and this new keyboard came in the market, the Yamaha DX Seven. And it was a Midi keyboard with some realistic sounds to it. And I remember the shop owner played it to me, the bass sounds to it in particular, and I thought to myself, oh, my God, that is it. My career is over. We’re going to be replaced by keyboard players. And do you know what happened, Sam?

Sam: You weren’t?

Marcus: Yes, I tell you what happened. We were replaced by keyboard players. Yeah. For five years at least. I was there, lounging in the back, in the background. But all of a sudden, rock and roll came back in, grunge music came back in, real instruments came back in, and guitars were back in fashion. So things do come and go. Let me just say that, first of all. But my lesson that I’ve learned from that is that really what I should have done is I should have embraced it more. I should have not seen being a luddite and thought, this is something to be defied against. I should have embraced it and learned keyboards and become and use that as part of my repertoire. I’m looking at that as AI in the same way.

Sam: So, Marcus, how do you think AI can help photographers? How can they embrace it and use it in their business?

Marcus: We’ve been using AI for a long time now. Photoshop is basically an AI platform, really. I guess since photography went digital, AI is becoming really being used extensively, cutting things out, cloning in backgrounds, whatever it’s going to be, we’ve been using it, so it’s nothing to be scared of in that point of view. So, yeah, I think that’s not a bad thing. So, really, there’s no doubt about it that AI for creating images is going to get in stronger and stronger and better and better. It’s only been used now for about three or four months that I can recall.

Sam: Yeah. So are you thinking AI in terms of Photos or more in terms of the editing photos, so that you could almost put the photos you’ve done after a shoot through an AI version of Photoshop and it could gobang and all your photos are how you want?

Marcus: Yeah, I mean, I do that already, Sam. I do that already with my software. Obviously, I’m controlling it and deciding how much, so that’s a good thing. There’s no denying it with AI. What’s changed the most, or what surprised me the most is the speed at which it has become part of the language of photography. And there’s no doubt about it, in a year’s time it’s going to be even stronger, it’s going to be even better quality and even more usable. So what are we going to do about this? When I speak to my assistants, who are a lot younger than me and starting out in the game, I say to them, don’t think of yourself as just being a photographer. Think about yourself as being an art director. Think about your skill or your value is coming up with ideas as opposed to be somebody who creates photographs. You’re doing everything so AI will be part of the package that you offer.

Sam: So I’m thinking almost you move from being the photographer more to being a director. So the AI could almost do the more technical taking the pictures and you’re the thinker the director, the producer of ideas.

Marcus: Exactly. Think for it as another tool that you can me and you will then stay ahead of the game.

Sam: Definitely. I think that staying ahead of the game is really important.

Marcus: Exactly. Embracing it. And I was thinking about it only yesterday in the way that I’ve seen some, especially the latest iteration of Chat GBT. It’s creating some really amazing images now with very few commands. But it made me think about my own practice. And when I work with a client, I don’t just produce one image. I produce sometimes 40 or 50 images on a suit. Now, if a client to go and do create 40 or 50 images themselves is going to take a lot of time and a lot of effort. So it’s still not replacing photography in that way. I think you just got to look at the values that you can offer to your clients.

Sam: Yeah. And then so how do you think now with the technologies? Is now photography businesses? Could you use AI to help them in their business?

Marcus: Yeah. Okay, well, that’s a great question. First of all, I’ve been using it for coming up with ideas, for blogs, for posts and stuff like that, not for writing blogs, because I think you can almost tell what’s been written by Chat GPT already, but certainly suggesting prompts for ideas .So that’s one way it can be used for helping create that’s interesting.

Sam: So how do you get prompts for ideas? What are you doing there?

Marcus: Ask it questions, you could say, okay, what makes a good branding photograph? And it will come out with a list. Invariably you got to dig deeper and look at the first thing on that list and say, okay, well, so using the brand colors is important. Well, tell me more about that. How can I use the brand colors? So instead of just asking it one blanket question, you ask it lots of little questions to make up your blog. And that gives it more of your own voice then as well.

Sam: Yeah. So you’re sort of directing it and using it, and then are you taking what it’s created and then tweaking it as well? Or are you then with enough questions, taking it and it’s pretty good?

Marcus: No, I’m tweaking it into my own voice, my own particular way of writing, which is obviously very personal to me.

Sam: Yeah, makes sense. Okay. And then other places you think photography business could be using it?

Marcus: Well, it’s early days. I did try to do our cover for our podcast on one of them, I did try to do our cover. It wasn’t very successful, I have to say, but it did make me think, okay, maybe it’s worth spending a bit of time with this and practicing it and get it to work better for me.

Sam: No, I think that’s definitely it. Right. It’s a tool that as well as it learning, you learn as well, don’t you, how to use it? Interesting things there. So I think I like your approach there. Don’t be a luddite and say it’s going to be the end of us. You’re much better staying with it, staying ahead of it, working where it’s really powerful for you, and using it there and realizing that it’s not so good and realizing it’s not so good there. But embrace it in your business. But we’re kind of starting to run out of time now, Marcus. And do you have some news for us today?

Marcus: I do, and yet again, I’ve been searching for some particularly good news about photography. Not always the easiest thing to do, but I’ve had to go literally off world for this new story, and it’s all about James Webb telescope, which has replaced the Hubble telescope. Now, I’m a big fan of astronomy and all the amazing things that are involved in it. And the James Webb telescope is something that I’ve been following for a long time now. It’s been well delayed, but it got up into space last year and is capturing some of the most amazing images of the universe. Beam me at that. And it’s just incredible. If anybody’s not seen in me yet, any photographers do check it out. Really? It’s quite eye opening.

Sam: No, that is stunning. You can follow things on Twitter and on Facebook, place like that. There’s lots of feeds, isn’t there, where it’s coming out with just the most stunning pictures. We thought what Hubble was showing was good and in terms of the science and in terms of the images, sorry, I’m also an ex physics teacher, so I’ll get even more excited about the James Webb telescope. But yes, the quality of what’s coming out and the information is coming out is just amazing. Getting the science or just for looking beautiful? Both are equally good, I think, are they?

Marcus: Oh, definitely. And what’s interesting that the images are actually you can actually go to NASA’s site and download them free of charge. They are out in the public domain and you can get some amazing prints for your house.

Sam;: Yeah, stunning. But we are running out of time market, so it’s been lovely chatting with you and I will speak to you next week.

Marcus: Thanks, Sam. See you next week.