I have just realized how AI can make my “bad” photos look great, and it’s actually not what you think.

So, what is this mysterious feature of AI, Martin?

Last weekend, I attended a pretty small wedding where my best friend was getting married. Everyone brought some food, and we had a picnic on a meadow after the ceremony. There was no professional photographer, so some people just took photos with their cellphones, and I had my Ricoh GR around my neck and I took mostly snapshots with some occasional portraits.

When I got back, I imported them into Lightroom and started editing. I trimmed the album down from 350 to about 40. It’s pretty rare for me to get 40 “keepers” out of 350 shots, and frankly, those were not keepers per se. When I looked at those, I felt a bit bad. On Instagram or YouTube, you can find amazing tutorials and beautiful photos with nice poses, and this wasn’t it.

Now, there’s another story inside this story I want to share with you. I am 15 years old and in Vatican City with the school trip. My teacher hands me his camera to take his picture in front of St. Peter’s Basilica. I take exactly one picture, and I think it is a film camera. My teacher later comes to me and shows me the picture. It is a terrible picture with a crooked horizon and I put my finger in front of the lens. He looks at me and says, “Martin, it’s a terrible picture with a crooked horizon, and you put your finger in front of the lens.” Then he pauses and continues, “But it is the only photo of me in the Vatican, so I am going to keep it.”

This memory resurfaced while I was editing the wedding photos. They are not perfect; this one has a crooked horizon (see the pattern there?) and is off-center for being a portrait photo. But it is the only photo I took of my girls with the bride at that moment.

It made me realize that no matter how advanced AI becomes, it will not be able to replicate your vision, what you felt at the moment you took the photo, and transport you back to that moment. My imperfect photos suddenly felt like fresh new ideas, as I am so often exposed to beautiful Instagram photos or AI-generated examples of perfect posing. As much as it sounds cliché, you are unique, and this might just cheer you up if you feel like AI is taking over photography.

I am interested in your take on this, let me know in the comments what you think about this whole AI thing. But enough about you and about me, I mean you are here for the giveaway right?

The Giveaway

This month, I am going to give away a wonderful book by Ave Pildas called “Star Struck.” All you need to do is leave a meaningful comment under any article on this blog, and I will pick the winner in the next newsletter. Thank you for your support!

When you visit the Patreon, you can also have a little behind-the-scenes sneak peek, see who I am interviewing next, and even ask some questions, like, for example, Peter Essick about his “Work in Progress” or Regina DeLuise about her “The Hands of My Friends.”

For those short on time, here are my (Editor’s) Top 5 must-read articles from the blog. The winner for me this time is ‘Shinjuku Inco,’ by Tadashi Onishi. It is raw and such a personal and beautiful use of documentary photography. ‘Elsewhere,’ by Olga Karlovac is another black and white photo project yet completely different. You should see it for yourself to see what I mean. Jan Enkelmann’s photo essay “Smoking Chefs” is a great example of your photography (the readers). The photo essay sent by Jan is a long-term photographic project documenting chefs during their cigarette breaks in London’s Chinatown. ‘A Room for the Night,’ by Alex Yudzon is a unique project and not your ordinary fine art photography. Lastly, I must mention Teresa Freitas for her unique colors. If there are only five photography articles you can read this month, these are them.

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