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AI & Photography

Updated: May 28, 2023

With this week's release of Photoshop's newest tool, their AI-powered Generative Fill, my social media has been flooded with photographers sharing many beautiful images, including incredible mountainscapes in Texas and the sandy beaches in Arizona. There have been breathtaking scenes, unbelievable before and after's, and some epic fails too.

Basically, you bring your image into Photoshop, circle an area, type a few words into the search bar and BOOM, your image is transformed into something very different than what it looked like in real life. Arguably, this is how Photoshop has been used since it's inception, but now it is at the tips of anyone's fingers without the agony of searching through thousands of source images and taking the time to learn how to create composites. You can add a lake, a waterfall, a field of hippos, a dinosaur, or a hundred golden retrievers, in just seconds. The crazy thing is, many are good enough that even someone with a professional eye like myself can hardly tell what part of the image was real.

I have seen practical uses, like extending the backdrop or removing distracting items with ease, or adding animals (such as cows, baby bunnies or chicks) in a way that won't risk injury of the animal or the client (and without the USDA license required when working with live animals). However, I have also seen a lot of utter failures, where it completely replaces one person with another (creepy), or adds elements that have nothing to do with the prompt. Don't even mention the warped hands and the melted can get disturbing fast. But, like it or not, AI is learning every day. All in all, like the rest of AI, Generative Fill has stirred up many mixed feelings in the industry and within this photographer's heart.

It has me thinking about what MY goal is when I create your images, and if this new feature has a place in my day to day workflow. I love to create artwork for you, and to work alongside your family to capture everything unique about this time of your life and document it eternally in images that can be handed down for generations. This has been summed up in my slogan and mission statement:

"Documenting your legacy, one memory at a time".

When I capture memories for your family, I love to utilize beautiful backgrounds, but never in a way that detracts from the focus of the image: the people and the memories made within. I have done photos in backyards where the kids spent their summers playing, on ranches where now adult children grew up, at Grandma's lake house where they reunion every summer, on family farms that are visited every year as a tradition, baking in the kitchen where many family meals were prepared, and in the nursery when mom and dad bring their newborn baby home--places that all hold very special meaning to my clients. I also do many shoots in my field with the wildflowers or the tall grass, which is a true representation of the beautiful Texas landscape through every season.

When I think of all these beautiful memories, I feel like it would not only be inappropriate, but even insulting at times, to deface these moments by changing reality. I do understand that it is absolutely not the case for all images or all photographers, but for my type of lifestyle portrait photography, I don't see many situations where I would be looking to add visual elements to the background when the focus is always on the people within the frame.

You might wonder "well, don't you already edit and change the photos?" And, you would be half right. My editing style was developed carefully over time in an effort to stick as true to life as possible. In my experience, straight out of camera photos generally look a little dull compared to the beauty and vibrancy of real life. So, I like to make the images bold, vibrant and colorful! When it comes to retouching, I find that I look past the fine wrinkles and blemishes on a persons face and see just their unique beauty and personality, so I include basic retouching and skin softening in order to keep the focus on the people and the memories, not on the little distracting details. When it comes to things that "change" the image such as body alteration, I have always had a very strong stance on not warping my client's bodies and feeding into our already toxic culture of body dysmorphia. In short, I want you to look like the best version of yourself, but still look like YOU.

Ultimately, the use of the AI-powered Generative Fill means that your images can "look" really cool, but does not allow you to interact with your surroundings or make memories in the same way that you can when you are experiencing the real thing. There is no wandering through the field of flowers, smelling them, picking your favorite ones, and experiencing all the things that my clients, especially the little ones, really thrive on!

So, if you are looking for a photographer who will take your photo and transform it into something entirely different, with epic backdrops from unknown places, the truth is, I am probably not the girl for you. But, if you are looking for a photographer who has for over a decade, and always will be focused on capturing your most precious memories in a way that won't go out of style, we might just be a perfect match.



*Note: All photos included in this blog were taken at the Flower Festival at Western Belle Farm, and are edited without Photoshop's AI-powered Generative Fill*

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