Photographer uses AI to spice up "Who is the best James Bond?" arguments

Alper Yesiltas 007 creations
(Image credit: Alper Yesiltas)

Since Daniel Craig made his dramatic exit from the Bond franchise, there has been a lot of debate over who will take up the role of 007. The likes of Henry Cavill, Idris Elba, and Tom Hiddleston have all been mooted as possibilities. Now Turkish photographer Alper Yesilitas has used AI and photo editing tools to imagine how different actors would look if they did land the role. 

Alper Yeşiltaş first made a name for himself in 2022 when he published a series of images in which he used AI to imagine how dead famous people would look if they were still alive. Many of the images gained tens of thousands of likes, depicting icons including Princess Diana, Heath Ledger, and hip hop’s Biggie Smalls amongst others.

His new series of potential James Bond candidates includes 11 possibilities, all dressed in suits standing in front of the classic Bond car – an Aston Martin (yes, we're deliberately forgetting the invisible BMW).

• The best photo editing software includes Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom plus many more to suit all budgets

Aaron Johnson as the next James Bond created using AI

Aaron Johnson as the next James Bond created using AI (Image credit: Alper Yesiltas)

The hyper-realistic images are pretty believable depictions of how each actor could fit the character of the suave secret agent and, honestly, it’s hard to pick a favorite. Yeşiltaş explains that when making the list he started with British actors he has already watched and deemed suitable by fellow fans, but he also wanted to include other actors with "significant talent" such as Regé-Jean Page and Henry Golding. 

Yeşiltaş told Digital Camera World, "To be honest, I think that a less predicted (or a never predicted, not even on this list) younger actor will be chosen for the role of James Bond. I have a strong feeling that James Norton or Lucien Laviscount will be the next Bond."

Idris Elba as the next James Bond (Image credit: Alper Yesiltas)

James Norton as the next James Bond (Image credit: Alper Yesiltas)

Richard Madden could be a potential 007 (Image credit: Alper Yesiltas)

The images have been edited with a moody, dark color grade and locations include the streets of London, the countryside, and what looks like downtown Manhattan. Yeşiltaş admitted each image takes him two hours to complete and the entire series was finished in a couple of days using a combination of AI image generators and traditional photo editing software - including Midjourney, DALL·E, Artbreeder, Faceapp, Gradient, Remini, Photoshop, Lightroom, and VCSO. 

Although Yeşiltaş's career was grounded in photography, he believes his transformation to AI is "simply a revolution." He compared AI tools with classical art production tools such as canvas and paintbrushes: 

"In the very near future, the imagination of the artist will be more important than how his art is drawn. I am not sure if AI-based photorealistic images will replace photographs in the near future, but I don't think AI-based photography can replace true photography. Artificial intelligence cannot recognize the sensations obtained when shooting a real portrait."

As a diehard Bond fan (pardon the pun) Yeşiltaş is hopeful that whoever takes on the role as the next James Bond will be in it for the long haul. Following Daniel Craig's 15-year stint it's hard to imagine a better Bond; he truly has left a legacy to fill. But who knows, perhaps these AI creations could change or influence people's preferences. Personally, I'm rooting for Idris Elba as he would make a refreshing change from the previous white cast of 007's.

If you enjoyed this also check out how blown away we are by Adobe's new generative fill tool 

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Hannah Rooke
Staff Writer

Having studied Journalism and Public Relations at the University of the West of England Hannah developed a love for photography through a module on photojournalism. She specializes in Portrait, Fashion and lifestyle photography but has more recently branched out in the world of stylized product photography. For the last 3 years Hannah has worked at Wex Photo Video as a Senior Sales Assistant using her experience and knowledge of cameras to help people buy the equipment that is right for them. With 5 years experience working with studio lighting, Hannah has run many successful workshops teaching people how to use different lighting setups.