It’s going to come, there is no doubt about it. Within the next 5 to 10 years, computer software will allow the creation of fully realistic photos from scratch. Already, researchers are experimenting with various ways to achieve this, including some without any human intervention. But before photographers drop their camera in search of other careers, they should consider that this might, in fact, open up new opportunities. Here are some photography jobs that will replace current photographers:
First, in foremost, this evolution will happen in steps. At first, and for a while, the technology will be too expensive and too complex for the average person to handle. Thus it will be sold as a service. As we previously wrote, companies (maybe some ex-photo agencies) will custom create images for their clients. They will listen to input and pass it on to image engineers who will build photos for them. This role will necessitate both technical and creative talent. And who better than ex-photographers to do it. They mostly tend to be technically savvy ( they have to these days) and possess the creative background to know what makes a good image. Thus some of the newly out of work photographers could successfully recycle themselves as “photo creators”, keeping making photos, but without a camera.
The second opportunity will exist in continuing to make photos the old fashion way. A bit like there is a resurgence for vinyl records or analog film, there will be a continuing demand for photos taken the old fashion way (with a camera). Mostly out of snobbism and a search for “authenticity”, brands and consumers will pay a premium to have photos created by rare but highly creative photographers. It might take longer, it will certainly be more expensive and inconvenient, but it will carry a certain luxury cachet that will always be in demand. The trick here will be to become one of those few that will be able to live from it. It will require expertise in branding as well as a strong individual style hard to replicate.
Guardians of Truth
The third, and probably not the last will be more in the photojournalism category. As images entirely built by computers become indistinct from those made with a camera, the propensity to invent events that never happened will also increase. Thus the credibility of photojournalism will plummet if nothing is done. Photojournalists and news photo agencies, in order to survive, will thus have no other choice than building extremely rigorous rules to prevent any computer generated photos to pass within their walls. In other words, they will not only need to sell photos, they will also need to sell absolute and infallible credibility. A news photo from one of these outlets will be guaranteed to be real. It will not be an easy task in a world addicted to instant, 24 hours news and pressures to be first will continuously put credibility at risk. But one mistake could mean the death of the business, as no other photos will be trusted.
And finally, there might be one place where computer generated images might never replace real photographers: weddings. Why? because while it will be possible to create a whole wedding album with a computer, what would be the point? It will still be more satisfying to actually capture the real moments of the day, emotions included.
Photo by raging_rocket_run