Will you be replaced by AI?
Digital replaced the darkroom chemical skills.
In-camera light meters replaced our manual light-metering skills.
Artificial intelligence (AI) can now pick between two images which one will be most visually pleasing to most humans.
Are you at risk of being automated out of your job (or hobby) as a photographer? Not necessarily. The title for this article comes from Brian Clark on a recent episode of the Unemployable podcast, and I think it sums up where photographers’ minds should be when it comes to the world of technology advancements.
I’m currently working on a big project related to how AI intersects with photography, and one of the major considerations is what it means for the future of the industry. Will the computers get so good that we don’t need someone to capture images any more? Will image selection, editing, and retouching advance further to the point where the computer can perfect a photograph without any “help” from a photographer or digital tech? Will be all be replaced by AI?
It’s a legitimate question. We’ve seen other jobs become obsolete due to technological advances.
The job of photographer isn’t going away
The job duties, however, will change.
Technical skills will continue to decline in importance as a differentiating factor.
Human skills will continue to increase in importance as a differentiating factor.
Recent consumer photography survey data from the Professional Photographers of America has indicated that the number one factor that sets photographers apart and drives consumer purchasing decisions is… how easy that photographer is to work with.
That won’t change, even as AI is used for some technical functions we once performed manually.
Consider the following:
- How well you explain your services to clients
- How well you sell the value of photography
- The human skills — posing, relaxation, and comfort — during the shoot
If the only value you’re providing is how to set exposure, or how to retouch a portrait, or how to cull through a bunch of shots and find the best ones for the client, then yes… you might be concerned for your future. You’re replaceable when you stop being human.
Product photographers who simply created assembly-line style images against white backgrounds? Square’s going to replace some of them.
But if you’re offering your client empathy, expertise, and that personal human service? You can have a bright future ahead, even as AI and other technological advancements push photography forward.
Header image adapted from a photo by tigergirl on Flickr
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