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Photography Matters

We believe that photography matters. We believe that human wellbeing is more important than artificial intelligence. We believe that real photography has significant benefits for our students and the community.

We shared this AI-generated image with our Artists and Environmentalists, and asked them 'What do you think about photographs created using generational AI (artificial intelligence) technology? Have you used AI tools to create images?'

AI-generated image

"The photographs created using generational AI technology look nice but may not be able to reflect the reality, e.g the lake in this image looks plasticky and there is no depth inside the lake. Yes, I have created an image of a dolphin riding on a piece of bread." Hillary Ho, age 10

"I thought this was a good photo. But then I noticed the water was too flat. It sort of looked a bit too perfect. I have used AI to help edit photos. I have used AI art generator at school which makes the closest photo I can find from what I write." George Grove, age 10

Image by Hillary Ho, age 10 (Auckland Domain Wintergardens)

Image by George Grove, age 10 (Auckland Domain Wintergardens)

"I think using AI to generate images is cool, but if you do, you should mention that you used AI." Jesse Radford, age 12

"It depends on what they are using it for. I have used AI tools for school projects, I think they have a use alongside the actual process of taking great photos the traditional way. You can create photos that are technically impossible to take as well as inspiration for ideas. Images created using AI should say so everyone knows." Finn Blackshah, age 11

Image by Jesse Radford, age 12 (Auckland Domain Wintergardens)

Image by Finn Blackshah, age 11 (Ruakaka beach)

"I don't like AI in photography - though it is progressing extremely fast, it can't capture emotions, like no matter how hard it tries it can't be human. I found AI fun before, but now I find it almost eerie by how uncomfortably smarter it becomes. AI almost looks completely real now, whereas I can remember playing around with AI filters not even a year ago and it didn't look realistic at all. I don't think that it should be used in photography or any other creative arts for that matter. It should be used for things that we don't enjoy doing like organising and keeping track of things, but not for the things that make us human like our art forms." Jessica Winstone, age 13

Image by Jessica Winstone, age 13 (Auckland Domain Wintergardens)

"Using AI in photography makes me think about how cool it is that technology can help us be creative! But it also makes me wonder about whether the pictures are really ours if a computer helps us make them. Like, does it still count as our idea if a machine helps us? It's like having a super smart friend who gives us ideas for our pictures. But then we have to think about whether it's fair to rely on the computer so much. Like, are we still being creative if the computer does most of the work? It's a bit tricky, but it's definitely something to think about!" Isabel Posada-Hinestroza, age 9

"I have not used it myself. I really like the photos and they look really cool, just they look different than real life. Instead of people going outside to the forest doing photography using the individual creative mind for photos, they are staying home and just doing it online instead of going outside and seeing the wonderful in the forest." Indie Ford, age 10

"I like it, but only if it’s not overly done. I feel like it makes it a lot more lively if you’re taking a picture of a leaf etc. It also makes photos a lot more vibrant and colourful." Dityaa Jaisimha, age 9

Image by Isabel Posada-Hinestroza, age 9 (St Heliers Pony club)

Image by Indie Ford, age 10 (Kepa bush reserve)

Image by Dityaa Jaisimha, age 9 (Auckland Domain Wintergardens)

Image by Samuel Zhou, age 9 (Auckland Domain Wintergardens)

Image by Lucy Smith, age 9 (Auckland Domain Wintergardens)

"I think that using AI to create images is like cheating and if AI images continue to get more and more realistic, then photographers who sell their photos will go bust. AI images are very realistic but some have little bits which don't look realistic. And yes, I have used AI tools in Canva." Tobias Novak, age 9

Image by Tobias Novak, age 9 (Auckland Domain Wintergardens)

"I really enjoyed getting to go out of my comfort zone and try new things. In this six month course I have developed so much. When I first started I was okay but as I did the course I got much better with my photos." Emily Tait, age 11

Image by Emily Tait, age 11 (Auckland Domain Wintergardens)

"Nature photography is like great. I love capturing the beauty of flowers, wildlife, and landscapes. It's incredible how a single photo can tell a whole story and make you feel like you're right there in the moment. I get inspired by the little things in nature that often go unnoticed - like the detail of an insect, or the lines on a leaf. Also, seeing the world through the lens of my camera helps me appreciate the world around me. To my fellow young photographers, I'd say: Enjoy the time connecting to nature, always look for something different, but most importantly enjoy it." Karla Tremain, age 13

Image by Karla Tremain, age 13 (Auckland Domain Wintergardens)

‘Real’ photography brings many benefits to our students and our community. Time spent in nature is essential for mental wellbeing, and finding the delights of nature and capturing them in an image brings the photographers joy and fulfillment. They form deeper connections with nature through direct experiences of/in nature. Students learn photography skills, both technical and artistic, which can be applied for future careers or as a lifelong hobby. Learning new skills is good for developing the brain so it can learn other complex skills that use the left and right brain. The process of finding subjects to photograph and then giving your attention to creating an image develops both divergent and convergent thinking. The images they create bring joy, delight, and understanding for family members and the community who are moved by what the photographer actually saw and how they captured it. We, the viewers, take delight in seeing the subject through the eyes of the photographer, which is lost in AI generated images which may not even be of real places and people. Often, AI-generated content leverages other creators' original content without providing disclaimers or giving appropriate credit.

We know that time in nature is fun and relaxing, and the practice of nature photography provides a great amount of wellbeing to our students. Engaging with nature at a young age can foster a lifelong appreciation for the environment and promote environmental stewardship. Outdoor activities like nature photography can help young people develop important skills such as observation, creativity, and problem-solving, while also encouraging physical activity and reducing screen time.

Photography Matters!

These young photographers are part of IMAgEN8's nature photography programs. All of their images in this story have been captured and edited by these photographers.

Editor: Tushar Sharma


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