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How Artificial Intelligence is revolutionising photography

Since the early noughties, the majority of photography has been purely digital. Culling and editing digital photographs have been a tedious and time-consuming in every photographer’s workflow. Wedding photographers, for example, often spend several days editing a single wedding.

Photo editing has been a manual process

Even though digital cameras are high-sophisticated technical machinery, editing and developing digital photos has been a rather manual process so far. Large batches of photos need to be culled and then edited one by one. Editing includes adjusting parameters such as exposure, contrast, colour temperature, colour balance, and cropping among many others. Established wedding photographers often spend their entire week editing just one or two weddings they have shot at the weekend.

How AI helps photographers

There are two main areas where AI can help photographers edit their photos. The first one is culling (selecting the best photographs) and editing (also known as digital development). Typically, a photographer would spend several hours editing for each shooting hour. 

Culling

Culling large amounts of photos can be extremely tiring, especially if there are many faces in the photos. Corporate headshot photographers, for example, can produce thousands of portraits in a single day.  AI can effectively identify closed eyes and discard these images. AI can even detect whether or not a person is looking at the camera and whether he or she is smiling (smile detector) – this is an incredible time-saver for portraits or when selecting the best group shots. Within the pool of the selected shots, AI software can rate the remaining photographs according to smile quality, facial expression, image sharpness and overall composition.

Editing

As each digital image can be developed in many different ways, each photographer has their own editing style. Some photographers develop their photos very bright and airy, while others prefer a dark and moody look. Some photographers prefer a high-contrast look while others like their images more flat or balanced. Photo editing is a very personal and subjective process. 

Software solutions such as ImagenAI and others ask the user to upload thousands of previously edited shots. A wedding photographer, for example, would have to upload at least 10 complete wedding galleries to the system. The algorithm subsequently analyses and ‘learns’ the style of the photographer. This process can take up to several days.

Once the style (or ‘user profile’) is generated, the photographer can send large batches of photos (e.g. entire wedding galleries including hundreds of shots) to the system to be digitally developed. On average this process only takes several minutes. At the end, the user is asked to download the edits into their editing software or choice. The photographer can review the edits before exporting the photographs to their clients.

How automated photo editing is changing the photography industry

Established wedding photographers have told us that this software is a complete ‘game changer’. If they shoot a wedding on a Saturday, using AI-assisted image processing, they might be able to deliver the final wedding gallery on Monday already. Less work means higher profits. Investing in AI software solutions is therefore an investment that will potentially save hundreds of hours per year. 

What comes next?

Camera manufacturers have already teased the first in-camera AI implementations. The applications included intelligent subject tracking (e.g. the camera ‘knows’ who or what to follow) as well as smile detection for group shots.

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