How Will AI Impact Travel Photography?

January 14, 2024

Young Monk, BumthangYoung Monk, Bumthang

Young Monk, Bumthang. 
Fujifilm X-H2, Fujinon XF200mmF2 R LM OIS WR, f2.0 @ 1/220 second, ISO 125. Composite. No AI.

It's so easy to edit your photographs with AI, what will happen to the genre of travel photography? Will we be able to believe anything we see anymore? Actually, it's not AI that is the culprit. Advertising agencies and photographers have been creating fully believable but fake photographs for well over half a century, but there's no doubt AI means more people can do it now – and can do it easily.

Whether we're talking about travel photography (penguins in the Sahara Desert), wildlife photography (a five legged elephant) or landscapes (a more interesting sky dropped in), AI and creative compositing rely on the integrity of the photographer. We shouldn't feel duped for believing an image that isn't real. We should be offended when we're told an image is real when it isn't. Weren't we all taught not to tell lies when we were children?

On the one hand, people are naive if they believe every image they see. On the other hand, people are now questioning some real photographs because they are difficult to believe. Most of the time we can tell whether a photo is fake or not, but this is going to change and most of us won't know whether a photo is real or not.

How does this impact travel photography? Well, maybe it won't make a huge difference. Already I see lots of travel photographs with blue skies and bright sunshine, but when I get to the destination it's overcast and storming! Mind you, there was only one Eiffel Tower in Paris, so a photo with five or six of them scattered around the town might not be believable!

How should photographers deal with it? Currently, I think it depends on how we use it. If we use AI to generate or significantly change a travel scene, then we need to tell people that's what we've done. On the other hand, if we use AI to remove some rubbish or fix up a cloud, has that significantly changed the authenticity of our subject?

This is a great subject for dinner and a glass of wine. In fact, I can think of no one better to talk this through than David Oliver – so why not join us on our trip to Bhutan this year and be a part of the conversation!

 


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