Will AI change photography as a hobby?

In pioneer times, the hobby involved film, darkrooms, chemicals, and cameras with manual settings for focus, aperture etc. Today, the latest cameras are effectively automated, and processing done on a computer with very complex, detailed software. Is it possible that AI, using stock photography, changes the hobby beyond recognition or value? I’m a neophyte, but considering buying a top end camera and learning photoshop or lightroom. Will I regret the investment 5 years hence?
I phone cameras don’t do it for me. Thanks in advance……

Only if you let it.

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If you have a good eye, patient and are willing to learn, it’s very doubtful you will regret buying a top end camera and full Photoshop. I think the rest of your points of view are a bit odd. Ignore what anyone thinks.


Interesting question.

My iPhone is 6 years old and I thought the camera was great at the time for casual use for reasonably decent family photos without lugging a DSLR about, but even the subsequent 2 iteration of iPhone were much better photo wise without any AI.

More recent phones with ‘AI’ algorithms allow the average user to produce excellent images for personal use with intelligent algorithms to recover details which would previously have required at least a modicum of processing in software.

My DSLR is ancient, but when I look back at photos taken maybe 10 years ago of family when on holiday the quality is outstanding vs iPhones at the time. When things such as simulated bokeh and dynamic range optimisations are almost automatic on modern phones/cameras it makes you wonder how much a ‘proper camera/lens collection’ will be a good investment aside from professional usage for 'mere hobbyists’.

Do we want/need software which has the AI moniker really replacing skies/backgrounds and so forth to make mediocre photos shine? Why bother at all and just let AI generate a scene from a script?

Ultimately cameras of phones aren’t going to be able to provide the human elements of composition, selecting good subject matter and potentially post-processing, but you have to wonder how good AI alone will be.

Undoubtedly it’s a skill which people can learn to varying degrees of proficiency, and some photographers will simply have the extra something to excel.

I guess there’s ultimately the joy/pride of knowing that you achieved the end result not simply an automated process, and that in itself must be rewarding.

I enjoy ‘AI’ in my camera with regard to subject detection and auto focus… really has helped me track and capture fast moving subjects. Big thumbs up from me.


It really is. I cut my teeth in a wet darkroom and the joy of watching the image appear will never be forgotten. I was taught my skills by a master photographer and found the old skills can transfer over to digital photography, but to get really good results, you have to have an eye for photography.

Will AI change the hobby/profession? Yes. And in time the old skills will be lost. Probably not needed either as a quick flick of a button in PS or some such will create a masterpiece. Those masterpieces will be hollow victories however, and I’m content knowing I can still pull out an internationally recognised artwork using old fashioned processing skills.

Things move on…


AI might once incorporated into cameras (which will happen) will make current auto exposure and focus seem crude. I see
1)For people using a camera primarily for snapshots, whether on a pocket camera (dedicated or part of a pocket computer that can also be used to telephone people), or with a more sophisticated camera like an SLR, it will likely reduce poor/failed images.
2) For people using the camera for creative art, it might assist the inexperienced, and offer novel options for the highly skilled, but whether it will ever be able to compose artistically is another question.
3) and for people who don’t want it, I guess it will be possible tu turn off/disable, perhaps excluding weposure metering.

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Yes, hopefully it could be disabled or at least have options similar to saving RAW image data vs derived JPEG/other formats to allow the keen amateur/professional to go back to the source image and post process. I think there would have to be manual modes where exposure settings based on metering could be disabled.

My opinion is that the greatest potential for AI in photography/cameras is assisting with the composition of a shot. I am fortunate enough to own a very nice camera and lenses which can produce high resolution and sharp images with accurate colors. However, at the end of the day, what matters most is the composition of the image and this is what skilled photographers know how to do well.

So needing a flexible inner mount fir the optics including sensor so it can alter its angle of pointing, as well as zoom in/out automatically, all while held by the photographer? Or were you thinking display a rectangle superimposed on the image giving recommended framing, or perhaps prompting the photographer with signals saying “up a bit”, “left a bit”, “zoom out or move back a bit more (but watch thd road behind you”?

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Reminds me of a comment I read somewhere about zoom lenses…

‘If you think you need a zoom lens, you’re standing in the wrong place’

October 1984 went for an interview for my first job. It was at a commercial/advertising photography studio. Being young and obviously no experience in commercial photography, I took my trans and b&w prints. The b&w prints were where I could play with imagery, however they were very basic by today’s standards. One b&w print was a cyclist winning a race. I photographed him earlier in the race and also crossing the line with his hands raised victoriously in the air. In the darkroom, I cut out some cardboard stencils and created ‘thought bubbles’ to come from his head in the race shot, with the winning image in the bubble (hope you can imagine that). Tricky to do it with no misaligned bubble edges.

On another print, I took a silhouette of my mate sat on a bench in the evening and I added a moon shot to the sky from another neg. That was tricky too.

Another shot I set up in the garage, was some old codd bottles surround by pots and gardening stuff. I covered the set up with spray web-effect I bought from the camera shop and surprisingly it looked real. Cut out a small cardboard window frame (not in shot) and flashed a speedlight through it to cast a window shadow across the set. No polaroid or digital screen to see if it worked.

In the interview, the MD thought they were great. Totally irrelevant to any commercial photography, but he was impressed with the attention to detail, the idea and the effort. First ever interview, first job, scared to death and I thought my stuff was pretty rubbish, but I got the job that day.

I used to flick on the darkroom light mid print developing to create effects, push/pull E6 processing to gain/lose contrast, put C41 through E6 (vice versa)…

And so on…

At this studio, we used to photograph fireplaces for one client. We couldn’t light the fires, so we had to send the trans off to some guy who painted in flames on the coal. What a skill.

In a few months, that will be 40 years ago. What I’m pointing out is that photography has been manipulating images for ever and it will continue.

Warhol’s famous pieces and the most iconic series of images ever, is manipulated photography.

A couple of days ago I was photographing a corporate presentation event. Took a thousand shots capturing people interacting, presenting, smiling, looking interested, getting their mouth’s right, expression right, focusing (and literally) on important people, not on less important people, taking into account backgrounds, branding, depth of field, iso, shutter speed, digital noise, colour balance. Then 6 hours digital processing 200 shots, cropping every one and getting them looking bright/clean. Not one bit of AI.

Will AI change things? yes. Will it replace the photographer? No. Will it make a poor photographer a good one? Absolutely not. Standards won’t go higher and images won’t get better. Photographic image quality has gone downhill for years. I see businesses using mob phones shots for brochures and many just share social media images. It sticks out a mile. How many times do I see images posted on social media taken 70-100 years ago. Typical, general group shots. They’re without doubt in a different league to what’s taken today. Is it more thought gone into them or something else? Everyone is a photographer today, but not many are any good.


I used to love playing in the darkroom, burning, dodging, superimposing, etc etc. great fun, mostly in colour though a little B&W. It took hours and hours (and could be fairly expensive in the experimenting stage). I progressed to a multi slot tank instead of trays for prints up to 10"x8", and drums for up to 24"x20" mainly for exhibitions, almost all colour since late 70s, and generally had fun. I sold it all in about 12 years ago having converted to digital - in many ways more powerful, and quicker, though I get no fun from the manipulating process, only the end result, unlike with film.

But I’m not a great photographer: I don’t have the flair to compose perfectly, to instantly see the perfect angle etc. I get there by shooting hundreds of pics, hoping for one to be good. (Thank goodness these days for digital, free till printed!) A great photographer like my brother in law would shoot a couple of dozen and be sure of having a great pic. The difference is a good eye and an artistic mind - I have neither, and whilst I have learnt some things, and can get something reasonable with enough time, it is not through being a great photographer. For people like me AI might prove to be the answer - except maybe not if it leaves me feeling it wasn’t done by me.

15 years ago I bought a DSLR specifically to take photos of cyclists at the Giro Italia Rome time trial.
The day before the race was spent walking part of the parcours looking for a suitable place to take photos. Which didn’t please my wife.
I chose a corner, which was on an incline, this gave a clear shot of the cyclists, plus they wouldn’t be going very fast.

An AI equipped camera wouldn’t be able to tell me the best place to stand.

However, I must admit it might be able to advise not to stand, but to sit down, which I actually figured out after a dozen or so shots.

So, I’m pretty sure, using your own intelligence will be far more satisfying than using artificial intelligence. I’m particularly proud of this one. It’s my phone wallpaper. (or whatever it’s called).

But it’s not the same is it… AI helps the tool augment your skills at capturing images. Things like dark room skills equally apply whether you are using AI in your camera or not.
The organic feel of a home wet room developed black and white negative is gorgeous… with pushing or pulling to adjust the feel of the negative.
It think it’s simplistic to assume new technology displaces all aspects of the craft… it doesn’t it augments them.
I embrace new technology and key parts of the photographic craft… together it opens up new unique opportunities for the individual to be creative and therefore interesting,

In my professional world we tend to shy away from the generalist term AI, which really doesn’t tell you much as it is a generalised set of many technologies, we tend to use the term augmented intelligence. Ie helping people make and implement decisions and create outcomes.

Agreed, I’m still a very happy film user with my Nikon F1 - F4.
F2 looking good!!


Cannon had their AI camera out way before anyone knew what AI was :wink:


I don’t know what all the fuss is about, they had AI back in the 60’s :rofl:

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It’s going to completely knacker professionals, other than those shooting specific events. The market for stock photos is obviouly dead within 5 years, if not less.

For hobbyists surely it will only change things as much as you want it to? If your mate’s got the latest and greatest kit, how tempting will it be to Topaz the cr*p out of your image? Not composition, admitedly. Or if you’ve accidentally clipped the tip of a swan’s wing coming in to land but everything else is perfect, why not just pop it back on.

As a hobbyist it must all be a question of where you’re willing to draw the line. It sort of mirrors the debate between film and digital when digital started taking over.

Sort of related, Tony Northrop came up with an interesting line when reviewing a ?sony? that could burst mode something ridiculous like 120fps. He basically said he couldn’t imagine being ars*d looking through the gazillion shots you’d come away with, and that AI should be developed to pick the best. That really would redefine what it means to take a picture. ‘Oh, that’s what I took’.

Personally, I think most hobbyists want it to be their photo. It’s very rarely the best photo imaginable, but it’s your photo.