Navigating the World of AI

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A Traditional Photographer’s Journey
By Richard Ramsey

I am speaking as what some might call an “old-time photographer.” My own photographic roots are from the heyday of Eastman Kodak. Photography was a delicate art form that required precision, patience, and a keen eye for composition. While some grappled with the rapid advancements in technology, I embraced it and enjoyed the continual improvements that came with that technology. With these few words, I encourage my fellow photographers to embrace the new possibilities that AI brings to our profession while staying true to the essence of traditional photography.

The rise of AI in photography has changed the landscape. We’ve gone from automating the post-processing of our images to creating images from just our words on a prompt. At first glance most would be skeptical. Will AI replace the art we have worked so hard to create as traditional photographers? I have dabbled with Mid-Journey and the Photoshop Beta version using generative fill.

Also, Chatgpt, which I must confess got my old brain working to write this article. All of this is interesting but not a replacement for the seasoned photographer. The digital file replaced film yet the creativity is ultimately in the hands of the photographer. We now have to harness the power of AI to enhance the abilities we have as professional photographers.

Most photographers my age have spent countless hours perfecting our skills, understanding the intricacies of light, shadow, and composition. I don’t regret those countless hours because they served me well. AI can complement these skills. It is simply another tool for the creative photographer of today… a tool to work alongside us to achieve the best possible results.

Automated Post-Processing is where AI really shines. I have spent countless hours in the darkroom developing and printing photographs in my life but AI can analyze an image and apply complex adjustments automatically. There are many ways in Photoshop to do the same thing. The technical part that puts the photographer behind the computer now has become a lot less time-consuming and allows us to focus on the creative aspects of our work.

My personal interest is in the digital painting of portrait images. I have not to this point seen any AI or action in Photoshop that can paint a digital portrait and it not be obvious as a machine generated image. The human touch is still important. The simplicity of film and darkroom techniques were cherished by many including myself. The human touch and the creative mind set many apart from the crowd in my days. Embrace AI as a tool. Harness its power to enhance the skills we have worked hard to achieve as professionals. That is my plan for the days ahead.

Richard Ramsey, M.Photog, CR, TCD, TSD, is a portrait photographer from the Memphis area whose career as well as his love of Art has spanned more than 5 decades. He has been selected Tennessee Professional Photographer of the year for a record 13 times and has won many other awards both regional and on the National level. He is now semi-retired yet still photographs two preschools and hundreds more children for a local event with his son Phil. His passion for digital painting has been his main focus for the last decade and continues to this day.