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AI and Your Photography Business: How It Hurts, How It Helps and How to Use It Wisely!

One of the big changes to hit the photography industry recently is AI. Recently, I shared a post in one of my Facebook groups about how I’ve been using it in my business, and got a comment about how it’s going to be the end of the photography industry and we should all beware.

So, on today’s episode, I’m going to share my thoughts on AI; how it hurts us, how it helps us, and how to use it wisely in your photography business.

2024 is my 25th year in business. 

One thing that I have learned over the past 25 years is that the only thing that remains the same in this industry is that it’s constantly changing.

When I started, back in the 1990’s, we all shot film, because that’s all there was! Then digital cameras came along and people freaked out. Digital cameras made photography SO much more accessible and photographers were worried that that industry was going to die as a result but it didn’t, it just changed.

Then cell phones with really good cameras came along, and people freaked out. Suddenly, everyone had a camera on them at all times, good cameras, and photographers were so worried that that industry was going to die and no one needed professionals any more, But of course that didn’t happen. The industry changed, it evolved with the technology, but we still have a need for professional photographers.

The photography industry is alive and well.

And now we have AI and once again, people are worried that this new technology is going to kill the photography industry. Even the New York Times shared an article, titled “AI Is the Future of Photography: Does That Mean Photography Is Dead?”

So let’s talk about it.

First of all, yes, AI is going to change things.  It can generate incredible images that look very realistic and I’m sure we will see AI generated images used for some things moving forward.  

But I believe people are still going to want a human connection and a sense of the real thing.  People aren’t going to want a computer generated simulation of their baby. They’re going to want an actual image of their baby. I really don’t think that will ever change.

I can’t imagine AI being used to create images of a wedding, or family photos EVER.

I also look at what has happened with film photography over the past 25 years as a little peek into what I think will happen with AI. When digital cameras came along, everyone thought film was dead.  And rightly so! The switch to digital rocked the industry. Labs that had been around forever went out of business, photographers went out of business, even industry giants like Kodak Eastman filed for bankruptcy. Times were hard.

But within a few years, people started to come back to film. I’m a great example of this. I shot digital for about five years and then came back to film because I HATED how much time I had to spend on my computer editing as a digital photographer. Film was just so much easier! I’m not alone.  Film has seen huge surges over the last few years, and in fact, our friends at Kodak even started bringing film stocks back that they had discontinued.

So, as a professional photographer, I don’t think AI is coming for our jobs.  I really don’t.

And in fact, I think AI is a HUGE tool that is going to make our jobs SO much easier!  I know, my team and I use Chat GPT, for example, to help us repurpose content. We’ll upload blog posts or Instagram captions and use AI to give us new ways to talk about the same topics… It’s super helpful! Just know, if you’re going to give it a try, not to directly copy and paste from Chat GPT on to your blog. Take the time to re-write the content in your voice so that it sounds like you, and so the Google Bots don’t penalize you, because if you directly copy and paste they will!

Another AI tool that I’ve been using is Imagen AI for editing… oh my god!! 

Imagen is an absolute game changer!

Like I said, one of the main reasons I went back to shooting film after trying digital is because I HATE editing… like hate it!  

When I work with film, I just take the images right in camera, the way the lord intended, send the film to my lab and then they send it back scanned and ready to go. The only thing I have to do is cull and send the images to my client so editing an entire session takes just a few minutes.

Easy peasy!

Imagen AI makes it possible to recreate that exact same workflow when working with my digital camera.

I make sure I’m doing what I need to do in camera, so I’m nailing my exposures, trying not to overshoot (because I can’t help myself when shooting digitally) and then all I have to do is upload my photos into Lightroom, upload the catalog into Imagen, and run the photos through my custom profile. Imagen will even cull and straighten for me!!!

So they come back, perfect and ready to be sent off to my clients. The entire process takes minutes and the results are beautiful!

If you want to give them a try, follow the link in the show notes. You get 1500 free edits when you sign up, so you can test it out. If you love the look on my images, you can even use my custom profile to edit your work which I highly recommend, ESPECIALLY if you use the Sandra Coan Method for lighting. Imagen pairs nicely with my lighting method. If you don’t want to use my profiles, you can create your own, or use one of the many profiles they’ve already created.

So there you have it.  I don’t think AI is going to destroy the photo industry. Honestly, I think in a lot of ways, it’s going to help it!  

See it as a tool that can be used to make your job easier, and remember, change is inevitable so don’t be afraid of it. Learn from and evolve with it, and you and your business will be much happier as a result.