We would like to make clear that we do not use AI in the editing of our documentary wedding photography – currently or in the forseeable future.
AI, short for Artificial Intelligence, is the new buzz in photography circles. AI in photography editing aims to make a better quality image by using both the standard processes of image enhancement and new techniques of borrowing photo-data from libraries of other – and that means other peoples – images. With AI it is also possible to construct images, or aspects of them, from simply ‘typing’ in instructions to an image editor, such as Adobe Photoshop.
We feel that extracting data from other images or applying impersonal algorithms is not what documentary photography is about.
We consider ourselves to be artists with cameras – not photojournalists. So, in our work we use the standard editing tools at our disposal, including ‘dodging and burning’ – they are named after the old chemical darkroom practices that have always been used – to darken or lighten areas in an image. Sometimes, we use ‘cloning’ but from within the image itself – we see ‘cloning’ as natural progression from dodging and burning, whereas AI is something else entirely. Whereas cloning uses areas of your own image, AI does not.
As professionalas we didn’t make our decision without careful investigation. We trialled the Adobe Photoshop ‘generative fill’ tool as a substitute for cloning, dodging and burning. However, we found that at this time these techniques deviated too far from our documentary approach. In our own experiments with AI, we also found the process to be too immediate – too easy. The ability to completely change an image was just a quick written command away.
Importantly, as AI developes, the edges between what is real – a taken photo image – and what is unreal – a constructed digital image – could, almost certainly will, become less and less clear. We feel we have to establish our own boundaries with regard to image enhancement and our idea of what documentary photography is. Very basically, do you want an image taken by a human or one constructed by an algorithm? We believe that the art begins in the eye of the photographer at the moment of image capture. Subtle image enhancement is part of our artistic process – but to take this further is to stray too far from what the eye has seen into what we want the world to be.
This statement in no way criticises phtographers who choose to use AI in wedding photography. The freedom must be there to enable everyone in our field of creative expression to find their own personal artistic fulfilment. Everyone – we hope – should work in a way that suits them, their creative process and their values. For us we will continue to use the standard photographic tools and not use AI tools or AI programmes. We will stick to what we believe are best documentary practices. Hollie and Patrick Mateer