Is the Art & Photo World In Trouble? Well, Yes and No. MidJourney is AMAZING!
By Steve Huff
For the least few weeks I have been entrenched in something that has become not only additive but fascinating. What started out as something I thought was a gimmick and bad for art in general has become something I am in awe of as it takes the creativity we have within us and unleashes it in a way I have never experienced.
I am talking about MidJourney AI Imaging and while some argue it takes away the creativity of art, I argue the opposite and I urge all photographers and artists to jump on this train NOW as it is going to be HUGE. I will predict right now that this will indeed slow camera sales, and convert other artists into “mind painters’. Like it or not this is the future of art and creativity and it is getting better by the day.
While not fully “there yet” it will be soon and what we are seeing my friends is something that can boost your creativity and mind to all new levels.
Keep in mind I am not saying this is a death blow to photography, it is not. Photography will ALWAYS be with us and ALWAYS be needed. We can NOT create memories with AI imaging.
With that said, for those who use a camera for fun or for landscapes or for general photography I am saying you may get more bang for your buck with AI Imaging.
Not only have I delved deep into this for weeks, spending hours each day creating, I managed to sell 140 prints of my work over the last two weeks. Every day I see more and more artists and photographers learning this technology and the work coming from some of these individuals is stunning, and each image is unique to you and what you create as it comes from YOUR MIND.
To those who are unaware, AI imaging has been unleashed to the public. POWERFUL AI imaging. I am not talking about apps on your phone but a paid service that allows you to unleash your inner artist. I wrote about it recently here but since then I have been learning more and finding ways to create more unique imagery with AI. The beauty is you can create images that look like photographs, oil paintings, cartoons, whatever you desire. The only limit is your mind, imagination and time you have to devote to it.
When I create an image I work on it for a few hours, then after the AI gets it to where I want it, I then enhance it within photoshop for the finishing touch. As I said, it’s far from perfect now but we will see a progression of this technology very quickly. By the end of this year we will be in awe of what can be created.
Some say this is not creative at all, and to those I say that is nonsense. It may not take the skill of a painters brush but it still takes a lot of creativity and when you complete a piece that you have worked on for hours and love the finished result it is exhilarating.
I have not touched my camera in months and I have not had this kind of passion for image making in years. If you give this a try, a serious try, you will be hooked.
Mark my words…this will be the future of art. Times are changing and we either have to embrace it or get lost in the shuffle.
As to the title of this post “Is the Art and Photo World In Trouble”… the answer is NO because we will always need photographs for so many reasons. But the answer is also yes, as many will drop their cameras and spend their time on this. Within a few years we will see camera sales drop more and more (worse than they are now) as more find a way to use their creative mind using AI. For artists and painters, I urge you all to start getting into this now as with your creativity you will be able to create works of art that you never thought possible, soon.
You can check out MidJourney HERE. I paid for the year sub and will happily renew next year. Well worth it.
While it does a passable job creating visually pleasing pieces many times the results lack nuanced world-building and are full of visual stereotypes that ultimately are harmful to minorities and do a disservice to the cultures they reference. If you plan to use it as an idea starter, great. But don’t accept the results at face value.
I started using it after your first post Steve! It’s great fun!
My experiences with Midjourney:
It can put a lot of random and wonky elements in images that a human would never do. But great if you’re making art with lots of random wonk in it!
The AI can only draw upon the images on the internet as reference material – if there are not copious amounts of images online for it to reference for your idea, it’s the wrong image maker for the job.
Photo-like quality – it doesn’t come close. Probably that will change in the future. But for now, a lot of faces come out with bad proportions.
Graphic novel looking painterly illustrations and fantasy art is something MidJourney does really well, but if you want to make a series of arts for a graphic novel, the character will have a different face from image to image.
It’s pretty good at quickly putting in a lot of energy and effort into making concept art, my primary use case. But art that is actually useable straight out of the AI is going to vary a lot depending on your use case.
As an art director, probably it will help with about 5% of our image making process. The other 95% will continue to be all other processes, image libraries, digital painting, traditional illustration materials, photography, photoshop, pen on paper ccncept arts. AI image makers can only get better, but for all the old-timers who are shaking in their boots about the world ending – I can’t say that MidJourney is going to replace other image making processes any time soon. Heck, I’m still waiting for painters to stop painting due to photography being quicker and more accurate depiction, and that’s been 100 years already. Neither are phtotographers selling their handheld cameras because drones usurped them!
AI image makers are just another image making tool that have pro’s and con’s same as all other image making tools
It’s great fun and good to familiarise yourself with it’s capabilities and limitations, there are some incredible images being made with it. And also a lot of wonky stuff.
check out my latest post and video on the MidJourney Updates. STUNNING Photo Realistic Portraits that look like real images. It’s insane. Just have to use the right commands.
Steve, thank you so much for sharing and for writing this article. I couldn’t agree more and I’m going like you through a similar journey – actually, I hardly touch my cameras right now but I’m spending much more time wit AI generators and Photoshop. Some months ago it occurred to me that ‘basically everything is already photographed’ (esp. landscape and esp. here in Switzerland with all the famous mountains and easily available photo spots). So, I started to go through my vast library of pictures from the last 20 years and just started to merge 2 (sometimes 3 or 4) pictures in Photoshop to create something new; incl. very old slides from my grandfather that I scanned. After some weeks, I started to add AI generated photos; again merging & blending in Photoshop. It’s absolutely fascinating and I fully agree with you that this will create new forms of art. With or without camera, picture making will always be with us and people will find creative ways to express views, feelings and emotions.
All the skill of clicking and moving ‘furniture’ around on a screen to end up with something that looks like most other digitally manipulated images and then with an ‘ART’ sticker applied to it.
Real artists don’t need this and can translate their imagination through a pencil without even having to touch a computer.And artists were already doing this years and years ago before we even had computers. Iy really isn’t that exciting.Te images also horribly remind me of the budget fantasy artworks with whales and sunsets that people buy from home stores and decorate the wall with.
Nothing is moved around or digitally altered with these, that is not how it works at all. I feel the same about a lot of overpriced artwork that was painted or drawn as yo do about AI. You may be against it, but it will be the future of “art” as it matures. Most artists will hate this, and I get it as now anyone can create images from their imagination without have to use a paint brush or pencil. I have bow sold over 200 prints in a short 3 weeks. Not of these images of course but others I have made using AI. In another year you will start seeing some powerful art using this tech and yes, if artists shun it they will lose out. If they embrace it, they will be just fine.
I totally agree with you Steve!
I worked in the product design department workshop of our school. The students (masters degree) were taught 3d computer drawing (Rhiniceros) in the first semester, taught by my boss Vincent.
The final assignment was something very loose, like “Do something with the Blues Brothers” or “Do something with Lego”.
When the assignments were in, Vincent came to me in sort of a hopeless mood. “Take a look at this. He must have worked at it for hundreds of hours. What am I going to do now?”
A student had grasped the true potential of Rhino and had blasted off like Gary Moore.
We had one or two such students every year.
I think Steve is one like that with the AI.
of course i get it.
what i do photographing is walk and observe, look for stuff with potential and take the shot. often with techniques so the image is very far from what the eye sees. read previsualisation by saint Ansel. today i did a two hour walk with a little $200 camera (olympus tough) which i did a hundred times already and came home with twenty stunners of stuff i’d never seen before. also light was pure magic.
the world around you offers so much more than what you can imagine (100 times more?) it of course also starts further imagination. stuff from 1/32 nd inch to light years.
this vr thing is really interesting and great. i spent ten years + until i had the occcasion of shooting a great sunflower field with superwide panoramic camera. now i could just make it.
what would be real cool is load photo in ai and blast off.