Shall I throw away my camera? These images are NOT photographs

Wonder AI image generator
(Image credit: James Artaius)

The debate over the merit of real photographs versus AI-generated images isn't a new one. However, what I don't think most people realize is that AI image generators aren't limited to esoteric programs and clever software nestled in the depths of the web; the images on this page were all made with a free app, on my iPhone, in less than five minutes. 

Unlike many, more fanciful, AI-generated images with telltale surreality or warped physics or deformed distortions of the real world, the images here are almost indistinguishably photorealistic. 

And again, had I spent more than a literal five minutes with the app (to make all of these, plus a whole bunch more) they would have been even more unbelievably realistic. 

Successful: "portrait photograph of a redhead model wearing sunglasses against an orange backdrop" (Image credit: James Artaius)

Now, there are some caveats. AI still struggles with specific organic characteristics like eyes and teeth. But hey, I might be photographing a subject with bloodshot eyes or teeth that they're embarrassed about. In both cases, the solution is simple: whack a pair of sunglasses on and keep your lips closed.

Point being, if I need a shot of a redhead against an orange backdrop, it is no longer quicker, easier or cheaper to go to a stock photo website or to find a subject and photograph it myself. With the Wonder AI app for my iPhone, I just need to input key descriptives and keep iterating the image to teach the AI what works, until it gives me a result I'm happy with. 

And in case you missed it, the app is free, and the process takes less than five minutes. And I don't even have to get out of my chair. And those things being the case, do I even need to use my camera any more (aside from the non-mercenary passion of taking photos, until there's an app that somehow provides that for me as well)?

Terrifying: "portrait photograph of a redhead model against a grey backdrop illuminated by Rembrandt lighting" (Image credit: James Artaius)

I'm being largely facetious, of course. "Real photography" will always have a place, and will never be outright replaced by AI-generated imagery. Just as CGI visual effects didn't replace real actors in Hollywood, which was the concern when Jurassic Park came along and half the movie industry feared for its job. 

Still, times are changing. And before you insist that you'll never use AI augmentation to take photos, just double check that you've never used portrait mode on your phone, or keystone correction on your camera, or Photoshop or Facetune on your images. We all use computer-originated augmentation to one degree or another. I've just never been aware of quite how accessible it was until now.

Read more: 

What is an AI camera
What is Deep Learning AF
Best Black Friday camera deals

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James Artaius

The editor of Digital Camera World, James has 21 years experience as a journalist and started working in the photographic industry in 2014 (as an assistant to Damian McGillicuddy, who succeeded David Bailey as Principal Photographer for Olympus). In this time he shot for clients like Aston Martin Racing, Elinchrom and L'Oréal, in addition to shooting campaigns and product testing for Olympus, and providing training for professionals. This has led him to being a go-to expert for camera and lens reviews, photo and lighting tutorials, as well as industry news, rumors and analysis for publications like Digital Camera MagazinePhotoPlus: The Canon MagazineN-Photo: The Nikon MagazineDigital Photographer and Professional Imagemaker, as well as hosting workshops and talks at The Photography Show. He also serves as a judge for the Red Bull Illume Photo Contest. An Olympus and Canon shooter, he has a wealth of knowledge on cameras of all makes – and a fondness for vintage lenses and instant cameras.