December 7, 2022
The debate over the merit of real photographs versus AI-generated images isn’t a new one. However , what I don’t think most people realize is that AI image generators aren’t limited to esoteric programs and clever software nestled in the depths of the web; the images on this page were all made with a free app, on my iPhone, in less than five minutes.
Unlike many, more fanciful, AI-generated images with telltale surreality or warped physics or deformed distortions of the real world, the pictures here are almost indistinguishably photorealistic.
And again, had I spent more than a literal five minutes with the app (to make all of these, plus a whole bunch more ) they would have been even more unbelievably realistic.
Now, there are some caveats. AI still struggles with specific organic characteristics like eyes and teeth. But hey, I might be photographing a subject with bloodshot eyes or teeth that they’re embarrassed about. In both cases, the solution is simple: whack a pair of sunglasses on and keep your lips closed.
Point being, if I need a shot of a redhead against an orange backdrop, it is no longer quicker, easier or even cheaper to go to a stock photo website or to find a subject and photograph it myself. With the Wonder AI app (opens in new tab) for my iPhone, I just need to input key descriptives and keep iterating the image to teach the AI what works, until it gives me a result I’m happy with.
And in case you missed it, the app is free, and the process takes less than five minutes. And I don’t even have to get out of my chair. And those things being the case, do I even need to use my camera any more (aside from the non-mercenary passion of taking photos, until there’s an app that somehow provides that for me as well)?
I’m being largely facetious, of course. “Real photography” will always have a place, and will never be outright replaced by AI-generated imagery. Just as CGI visual effects didn’t replace real actors in Hollywood, which was the concern when Jurassic Park came along and half the movie industry feared for its job.
Still, times are changing. And before you insist that you’ll never make use of AI augmentation to take photos, just double check that you’ve never used portrait mode on your phone, or keystone correction on your camera, or Photoshop or Facetune on your images. We all use computer-originated augmentation to one degree or another. I’ve just never been aware of quite how accessible it was until now.