Is Photography Doomed by A.I. Advancements?

Advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) are revolutionizing various industries, and photography is no exception. Some claim this is a time for innovation. Others fear the erosion of photography’s artistic essence.

Debating the potential for AI to replace traditional photography requires considerate examination of the advantages, limitations, and ethical considerations associated with this seismic shift in technology.

Will this innovation in technology result in a loss of authentic photography?

AI brain tree
AI Generate Image created by Leonardo AI

‘Some people calling the arrival of A.I. an extinction-level event for photography, I often think of the French painter Paul Delaroche who, legend has it, declared painting “dead” after seeing a daguerreotype, one of the first photographic inventions. Painting did not die; it just evolved into a different kind of artistry, freed from the obligations of verisimilitude.’ (The New York Times Dec 2023)

Advantages of using AI in photography?

Admittedly there are obvious advantages AI brings to repetitive tasks. Things like image sorting, editing, and retouching are all mundane tasks photographers can delegate to a machine. This efficiency enables professionals to focus more on creative aspects rather than obligatory chores.

It’s possible the advancement and accessibility of high powered imaging tools may push the boundaries of traditional photography, inspiring photographers to explore new frontiers. But the disadvantages are vast, from Deepfakes to instances of authentic photographs being replaced with AI generations altogether.

Challenges AI brings to the integrity of photography

Fred Ritchin the dean emeritus of the International Center of Photography believes ‘we are at a fundamental turning point in our sense of the real and the possible. There is an urgency to understand what is at stake, and to develop best practices that preserve and amplify what one wants the media to be able to accomplish.’ (Vogue Aug 23)

Ritchin is a prolific author and curator, focusing on digital media and the rapid changes occurring in photography. In a Vogue article published in August of 2023, he points out that ‘photographers and their collaborators may find themselves increasingly displaced by artificial intelligence systems that can generate synthetic images at a fraction of the cost without having to pay assignment rates or reimburse travel costs.’

AI Generated Photograph
AI generated photograph of jellyfish

Limitations and ethical considerations posed by AI generated photography

As AI becomes increasingly pervasive, there is a risk of homogenizing photographic styles and aesthetics. Automation may inevitably lead to a loss of individuality and originality. This will dilute the diverse artistic expressions inherent when images are created using traditional photography methods.

AI algorithms are raising concerns about data privacy, algorithmic bias, and control over creative decisions. Surrendering agency to automated systems compromises the autonomy and integrity of photographers, undermining the authenticity of their work.

The proliferation of AI photography solutions will devalue the expertise and craftsmanship cultivated by professional photographers. Years of training and experience now rests in the creative prompt writing. This ease of use to create seemingly complex images undermines the perceived worth of skilled practitioners in the industry.

AI-powered image manipulations raise ethical questions as well.

As AI systems improve, it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to determine the truthfulness of photographic representations. The ease with which AI creates convincing deepfakes and alter reality blurs the line between fact and fiction. And few can tell the difference.

The ability to manipulate and create anything imaginable is the current challenge facing the integrity of visual storytelling. Concluding in the words of Ritchin, ‘for better or worse, this is where we now find ourselves. The solutions, if there are to be any, must come from everyone, and come soon.

xoxo adrienne signing off


the Photographer

Adrienne Maples


Kansas City photographer, Adrienne Maples, weaves together powerful narratives with her photographs to create mood and evoke emotion.


She's an AI enthusiast, passionate about teaching others how to use technology responsibly for the greater good. Known for her 'spunk & pizazz', she directs from behind her camera, finding impromptu designing to transform mediocrity into the extraordinary.


She a board member of AIGA and KCAC. As a committee member of KCDW, she organized the 2024 talks: The A.I. Asset, Creator as Curator.

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*bw photo by Sara Brennen-Harrell

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