What Does ‘In Camera’ Mean Now?

June 22, 2023

Angel Wings, Shark Bay, Western AustraliaAngel Wings, Shark Bay, Western Australia

Angel Wings, Shark Bay, WA
Phase One XF 150MP, 110mm Schneider, f4 @ 1/2000 second, ISO 200

In the June 2023 issue of Better Photography, we present a couple of articles about AI (or perhaps we should call it IA – intelligent artificialness). Photographers around the world are looking at this new ‘technology’ with some trepidation and while it will certainly have an impact, it won’t prevent us from continuing to photograph as we have been previously, if we want to. No one is forcing us to engage with AI. It’s a choice.

In fact, the current situation reminds me of the introduction of digital photography and the ability to composite multiple images together. There were those who opposed the technique, calling it ‘graphic design’ and ‘not photography’. Some photographers still oppose composite images and if they do, they can exercise their choice to use ‘in camera’ captures for their own work. Photography is a language and there are many acceptable ways to approach it.

However, it appears that the term ‘in camera’ is suddenly in dispute. In fact, this is perhaps the most worrying aspect of AI – that this pimply-faced upstart can commandeer a term us experienced luddites and dinosaurs have been using for years. For me, ‘in camera’ means a single capture photograph, as opposed to a composite photograph that comprises two or more images. ‘In camera’ can also mean a single capture with no or minimal post-production. However, in the world of AI, ‘in camera’ appears to indicate a photograph that was taken with a camera, as opposed to being created by an AI bot. Alarmingly, from ‘their’ perspective, ‘in camera’ can mean both single capture and composite images that have been taken with a camera.

Are we going to stand for this ill-considered approbation of our valuable heritage? Do we not have enough to argue about with the terminology already, without having to admit yet another member to the debating club? Or will AI serve to join the 'in camera' forces of good and evil, single capture and composite alike, as we make a stand to protect ‘real’ photography?

Time will tell. The photograph above is an in camera, single capture photograph of Shark Bay, taken a few weeks ago on a workshop with Tony Hewitt and a band of wonderful photographers.

 


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