Picture of the author

28 February 2024

Noah Pharrell
Embracing the dawn of photographic A.I.

point of view

Samsung Campaign

Samsung Campaign

Embracing the Black Mirror: The Dawn of Photographic AI

Do we fear artificial intelligence because we fear losing control? As photographic AI grows, many photographers view them as threats, perhaps one day making their craft obsolete. But has artistic expression ever been about control? Our creative impulses have always been more about discovery of self and world. As with any art, meaningful AI artwork could reveal truth and understanding about the human condition.

Rather than resisting, photographer Noah Pharrel embraces these tools as new creative mediums. She has learned to intuitively collaborate with AI image generators. A craft in itself. Her cinematic, imaginative composites fuse classical training with leading-edge image synthesis—allowing her to expand the boundaries of her personal vision. The capabilities are limitless. While that notion can be scary it’s also wildly liberating.

Noah explains, “AI is no different than any other artistic medium. Oil paints didn't replace watercolours. Digital photography didn't end film. They simply gave more options for us to explore as artists.” She adds, “If photography is about capturing light, AI is an unprecedented tool for sculpting worlds from light.”

Behind every stunning AI composition are still human design choices - emotional sensitivity, aesthetic sensibilities, and technical craft. "We of course also have a responsibility to ethics. But it shouldn't be any different to any other industry or job."

Perhaps we are looking at AI the wrong way. What if it was helping us better understand and appreciate the human experience and the present moment – something AI can never replace? These tools don't diminish our humanity, they simply reflect it back to us like a black mirror.

As so many spiritual traditions suggest, if life really is just an illusion, perhaps AI is yet another reminder of that illusion. It is within us to appreciate the real and tangible even more. If artificial intelligence is the child of human ingenuity, then like any creation it is a reflection of its creator. We should not fear our reflection, but embrace it as an opportunity to better know ourselves. And in that knowledge, rediscover the beauty of being human.

After all, what if I told you that AI helped me write this piece, would it make the perspectives shared any less accurate or meaningful?

"To get an image that satisfies her, she needs an average of 10-12 hours of work with artificial intelligence. Plant the ideal scenario, graphically build its details, backgrounds, colors, faces and, finally, a passage in Photoshop. An artistically close approach to her photographic ritual. Not denying her original visual universe, she has fun building a parallel world, influenced by popular high school images of the 1990s and early 2000s. As a backdrop to all her portraits, the generation of millennials, her generation, is revealed in her silent pouts, her fluid features, her dreams of great loves and ephemeral joys.

“My photos have always been my way of escaping from the reality in which I live. They are like those imaginary worlds that live in my mind, that stimulate my desires.”

Graduations, beach vacations, prom, afternoon photo booths with friends, then the big disappointments in the offing. Noah Pharrell's short stories sound adolescent carefree and infuse, like Euphoria, her dose of dark and charming nostalgia. However, it also allows us to see a more critical part of the beauty ideal. Because here everything seems sensibly perfect, nothing goes too far or makes stains. The fruit of a visual imaginary loaded with stereotypes, from which AI has fed.

“I have never been a fan of excessive touch-ups to the point of losing that natural side that makes us who we are. I completely understand the debate about AI and how the game is rapidly changing. It is essential to find a way to prevent misleading images from disturbing our reality. All progress must be accompanied by an equal dose of cultural and mental growth on the part of society. We have to improve our mentality as we improve our technology,” she confesses. Recreational creations that transport us happily.”

"Recently, I've conducted a campaign for Samsung entirely with AI, and we're now at a level where from the AI-generated origin to the final result, there are many phases that range from generating the prompt to its modifications, light and colour editing (same treatment as a photo), and even merging several images generated into one. My way of integrating AI when it comes to products that later need to be incorporated into an AI universe involves shooting the product like an e-commerce photo and then integrating it into the generated image universe."

Head to Noah's page to see her full A.I. folio..