Photo contest experts tell us how they’re dealing with a tidal wave of AI-generated images.


What’s all the fuss about? Photographers and artists have been fudging, faking, manipulating, and tinkering with photographs since the invention of photography.

Take Camille Silvy (1834-1910), for example. His image titled The Streets of London was made in 1859, only a few decades after the invention of photography and 132 years before Adobe Photoshop 1.0 was released, and was made by combining four separate negatives. 

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While it was a lot more hassle, and required more skill than writing a prompt for a generative AI engine, the final image is as fudged and fake as anything that might have been altered in DALL•E 3.0. However, Camille Silvy wasn’t entering his photo (montage) into a ‘Photographer of the Year’ competition; if he had, he might have gotten into a spot of bother.

Overhead shot of a beach at sunrise with waves crashing around two surfers

This ‘drone shot’ of a beach at sunrise with waves crashing around two surfers is actually an AI-generated image – it made global news because it fooled judges of a photo contest to win top prize (Image credit: Absolutely AI)

A little over a century after Silvy’s meddling, AI and AI imagery are the hot topic du jour, and nowhere more so than in the world of photo competitions. There are plenty of stories of AI-generated images fooling judges and winning awards, and it’s easy to see how, as some of the results can be utterly convincing.

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