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AI photography falling foul as retro cameras make a comeback

Retro cameras are making a comeback/ Photo by Harrison Haines via Pexels
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AI-generated photography is trending, but younger generations are already getting bored with its perfection, say reports. They’re even on the hunt for 1990s digital cameras. Is this a hopeful sign for freelance photographers who thought AI was going to end the humanity of their craft or are there other threats lurking beneath?

Those that grew up as teens and young adults in the 1990s and early 2000s, were exposed to an era of alternative angst when it came to music, fashion and photography. Perfection was out, and anything frayed was in.

It would seem, according to several reports, that Generation Z is looking to the past for their photographic inspiration now that they are losing favour with the perfection of AI-generated photography and iPhone filters.

They are looking to source “old school” digital and film point-and-shoot cameras, according to Marketplace.

The revival of these retro cameras, according to David Little, executive director at the International Center of Photography in New York, is likely down to younger people simply being bored with perfection.

“It’s almost as though taking a photograph, a digital photograph on your smartphone or your iPhone, might be a little bit too easy,” Little said during an interview with Marketplace.

This trend for authenticity and anti-perfection is the polar opposite of an AI-generated photo, which arguably has little soul and no real story to accompany it.

Little also said that teens today “want to have ownership of their own image-making and their own creativity, much like Stieglitz and that first generation of great photographers.”

Younger generations are not the only ones finding fault with AI-generated imagery. Photography hobbyists feel AI is taking out all the fun in being in the right place at the right time to take that one-of-a-kind shot. Those that rely on their original photography to make a living are finding new threats from AI by the week.

Some photographers find AI apps such as WatermarkRemover.io  which are available online and via the Google Play store as just “another stepping stone towards the eventual downfall of photographers.”

“It first uses what it refers to as area prediction to establish where the watermark might be, and then segregates the different colours,” said a Digital Camera World report. “The AI is smart enough to fill in the gaps and can then reconstruct the empty space to look natural,” said the report. 

As reported by CreativeBloq, removing a watermark without consent from the original copyright owner is illegal, at least in the US, but legalities are becoming a little murky when AI gets involved and rules can be difficult to enforce.  

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