Caught for Concepts as a Photographer? Attempt AI


Generally we’re brimming with concepts and able to shoot. However, what are you able to do when the concepts dry up?

Having pals to bounce concepts off could be a nice assist as a inventive. Two heads are sometimes higher than one for problem-solving. Often this isn’t attainable – your mates is likely to be away otherwise you is likely to be working below NDA, or maybe you aren’t positive for those who can belief folks to not steal your concepts. In these cases, it’s helpful to have some instruments that you should utilize to get the creativity flowing.

Iterating For Contemporary Combos

I just lately attended a Masterclass at The Societies of Photographers 2023 Conference in London on the subject of producing concepts for illustrative photographs. The speaker, Kris Anderson, took us by way of a technique he makes use of to iterate concepts when exploring an idea for a brand new picture.

He began with a short description of a picture, then modified one factor, then one other, and repeated this to supply an inventory of prospects. He then confirmed an preliminary sketch which was refined additional to present the pathway to the tip outcome. Under you’ll be able to see his preliminary mock-up after which the ultimate picture titled “Relentless”.

The preliminary mockup.
The ultimate picture, titled “Relentless.”

Thanks to Kris for permission to breed his photographs right here. Please do check out extra of Kris’ work on Instagram.

Afterward, Kris and I had been speaking on Messenger and he got here up with the brainwave of getting AI to automate the iteration course of. This obtained me pondering, so I explored whether or not there have been ways in which we’d have the ability to use AI to assist us give you concepts for a shoot, equivalent to places or props which may swimsuit a theme.

Basically, I needed to see if in some methods AI instruments might take the place of bouncing concepts round between pals and producing preliminary sketches. Under are the outcomes of my early experiments with two AI instruments.

AI Instrument #1: ChatGPT

The primary instrument we’re going to take a look at is ChatGPT from This appeared like the plain place to begin because it is among the best-known of the early AI chatbots that’s free to entry on the time of writing. Maybe writing to ChatGPT could possibly be a bit like discussing issues over Messenger with a good friend?

Producing Concepts

Let’s say I need to do a sci-fi-inspired shoot. To get extra concepts, I’ll base it on a film. However, to guarantee that there may be loads of various materials to attract on, I’ll solely select sci-fi trilogies. So, I requested ChatGPT to call 5 sci-fi movie trilogies. It advised Star Wars, The Matrix, Again to The Future, Alien, and Blade Runner.

I’ve at all times been a fan of The Matrix triology, so I took that as my inspiration for what adopted. For the shoot to look genuine I would wish a very good location and a few styling and props that might assist the viewer make the reference to The Matrix.

Discovering Potential Areas

Taking pictures on location, however can’t consider anyplace appropriate? Attempt getting ChatGPT to counsel places for you. Inform it the town or space you need to shoot in and describe the kind of atmosphere you might be after.

For instance, I requested it for five places on the outskirts of New York that could possibly be used for a photoshoot impressed by The Matrix movies. Right here’s what it got here up with:

  • Crimson Hook Grain Terminal
  • New York State Pavilion
  • Floyd Bennett Subject
  • Tarrytown Psychiatric Hospital
  • Croton Aqueduct

I’ve by no means been to New York and wouldn’t have a clue if any of those had been any good. So, I regarded them up on a Google picture search to get a really feel for every of them. So far as I might inform, they appeared a fairly good match visually. However, I had no thought in the event that they had been accessible or not, so would have needed to look into that additional. I did a few Midjourney visualizations primarily based on a Matrix character and the situation, however the photographs it generated didn’t actually assist me a lot.

Here’s what it considered for the Croton Aqueduct:

These had been its solutions primarily based on a motorbike outdoors the Crimson Hook Grain Terminal:

I’m positive loads of you might be yelling on the display already! I don’t suppose these are offering me with life like scenes I might truly seize on location. So, it’s laborious to judge from what we’ve thus far whether or not planning a shoot at one in all these websites can be value it.

To proceed the experiment, I assumed I’d attempt one thing nearer to my dwelling and check the outcomes. That manner I may very well know the locations it suggests and have the ability to consider them higher.

Right here is the immediate that I used: “counsel places in Norfolk, UK for a photoshoot themed on the Matrix – locations should be open to the general public with free entry”. That is what it got here up with:

  • Norwich Citadel
  • St Andrew’s Corridor
  • Norwich Cathedral
  • Felbrigg Corridor
  • The Broads
  • Cromer Pier
  • Nice Yarmouth

Okay, the record is healthier than nothing, however in no way perfect. For a begin, Felbrigg Corridor is owned by the Nationwide Belief so you’ll be able to’t get in with out paying and so they don’t permit images for skilled functions with out a license. The Broads is a big space of synthetic lakes, windmills, and vacationers in boats, so I’m undecided which half it had in thoughts… Norwich Cathedral and the Citadel once more don’t have a tendency to love folks taking pictures inside apart from the same old vacationer snaps. So, sorry ChatGPT, however that isn’t probably the most useful record. The truth is, it simply reads like an inventory you may get for those who requested for locations to go to as a vacationer. To an extent, Cromer Pier and elements of Yarmouth could possibly be OK. However, on the entire, the outcomes aren’t all that nice.

So, native information remains to be actually vital. Don’t go reserving a location shoot primarily based on a ChatGPT suggestion simply but. It’d make it easier to get began along with your analysis, however you’ll nonetheless should do some legwork to do. If nothing else, no less than it will get the method began when you have a little bit of a psychological block or no thought the place to start.

Styling and Props

We had reasonably combined outcomes with the situation hunt. Arguably we might have gotten one thing comparable (definitely for the Norfolk question) from a easy Google search. How about props and styling? Supposing we needed to do a James Bond 007-themed shoot. However, for some motive, we had been struggling to think about props that would assist promote the story.

Right here is our search phrase typed into ChatGPT: “counsel 10 props for a james bond impressed photoshoot indoors – all props should have the ability to be used indoors”.

Right here is the reply it gave me:

  • Martini glasses and shaker: James Bond is known for his “shaken, not stirred” martinis. Incorporating martini glasses and a shaker into your photoshoot can create a traditional Bond really feel.
  • Classic phone: James Bond typically receives vital calls on a classic phone. Incorporating an analogous prop into your photoshoot may also help create a Bond-inspired environment.
  • Enjoying playing cards: James Bond is thought for his love of playing. Incorporating taking part in playing cards into your photoshoot can create an analogous really feel.
  • Briefcase: James Bond typically carries a smooth, high-tech briefcase. Utilizing an analogous prop in your photoshoot may also help create a Bond-inspired environment.
  • Cigarette case and lighter: James Bond is commonly seen with a cigarette case and lighter. Incorporating these props can create a traditional Bond really feel.
  • Bow tie and tuxedo: James Bond is at all times dressed to impress in a pointy tuxedo and bow tie. Incorporating comparable outfits in your photoshoot may also help create a Bond-inspired look.
  • Gun and holster: James Bond is thought for his use of weapons. Incorporating a pretend gun and holster in your photoshoot can create an analogous really feel.
  • Excessive-tech devices: James Bond typically has entry to high-tech devices, equivalent to watches with hidden cameras. Incorporating comparable devices in your photoshoot can create a Bond-inspired environment.
  • Aston Martin automotive mannequin: James Bond is known for his love of Aston Martin automobiles. Incorporating a mannequin of an Aston Martin automotive in your photoshoot can create a traditional Bond really feel.
  • E-book assortment: James Bond is thought for his love of literature. Incorporating a set of traditional books into your photoshoot can create an analogous really feel.

Spot the tiny drawback with one in all these? Sure, it’s reasonably laborious to think about an Aston Martin automotive getting used as an indoor prop – in my studio at any price. Nonetheless, it has picked up on a number of the traditional iconic symbols related to 007. They aren’t all equally as helpful, however a mix of some of them might certainly assist us to fashion a themed shoot with props that folks would join with James Bond.

At any price, the outcomes are extra usable than we discovered with the situation search.

I additionally requested it for 10 props for a photoshoot impressed by the Matrix movies and it got here up with the next record:

  • Black leather-based outfits
  • Sun shades
  • Weapons
  • Metallic or chrome surfaces
  • Inexperienced-tinted lighting
  • Wires and cables
  • Neon lights
  • Futuristic chairs or seating
  • Digital screens
  • Martial arts weapons

For these acquainted with the flicks, this record makes a whole lot of sense. Though, I’m undecided how distinguished chairs had been. Can’t say they caught in my thoughts!

General, I’d say that this can be a good record with potential to assist with styling for a shoot. Might I’ve give you them by myself? Fairly presumably. However, in a second of laziness I didn’t should suppose too laborious. Others of a lazy disposition or those that are simply drained and unable to suppose straight could discover ChatGPT might save them a while developing with props and styling concepts for themed shoots.

AI Instrument #2: Midjourney

There are numerous AI picture mills out there as a fast Google search will reveal. I’ve thus far solely explored Midjourney so can solely write about my expertise with its textual content to picture generator. Others could nicely yield very completely different outcomes and be roughly efficient for the needs we’re taking a look at right here.

For individuals who have but to attempt an AI picture generator, let me briefly define the method. You place a immediate in for the AI to work from. That is usually a textual content description of what you desire to the picture to indicate. It’s also possible to put in photographs as references for it to create a spinoff picture.

In Midjourney, you might be given 4 photographs in response. You may then ask for variations on a type of or have it upscaled if you’re proud of the way it turned out. There’s after all extra to it, so seek the advice of the documentation or ask in boards to go deeper with all of it.

Fast Visualizations

At this stage, we transfer on from ChatGPT to Midjourney as a result of we would like some fast visible concepts that we’d base a shoot on. Successfully, we’re going to use Midjourney to construct a form of temper board for us. I took a number of the key phrases from our preliminary analysis and put this into the Midjourney picture generator: “man and girl sporting lengthy black trenchcoats and sun shades, holding martial arts weapons, in a steel room with inexperienced lighting and a pc display, photorealistic, particulars.”

As you’ll be able to see, these are from the record equipped by ChatGPT with the added prompts asking for the pictures to be photorealistic and detailed. Listed below are the pictures that it generated:

I then requested Midjourney to make a collection of variations primarily based on the primary of the 4 solutions and ended up with this:

After one other variation I did an upscale of my favourite suggestion thus far to present me this picture:

There are components right here that aren’t clearly from the flicks, however the total really feel works nicely. One of many key limitations I’ve discovered with Midjourney for the time being is you could’t actually tweak a picture barely with good management in order that it seems the way in which you need. It will be nice if we might inform it to alter a single component with out altering the remaining in order that we might get a collection of visible iterations for our temper board. Sure, we will inform it to make variations, however not in a really exact manner (for now no less than).

Nonetheless, from simply an embryonic thought to a set of key phrases from ChatGPT and thru just a few iterations in Midjourney I had a picture that embodied points of the Matrix films and could possibly be possible to shoot in the proper location or within the studio.

If I needed to, then I might begin figuring out precisely what I’d must do to create a picture like this. For instance, I might look to forged appropriate fashions, converse with a stylist about hiring props, examine potential places and begin to plan my lighting.


The 2 AI instruments that I used helped me to discover concepts each in phrases and visually. They functioned in comparable methods to a planning assembly, giving me materials that I might construct on. A few of the solutions had been removed from good, however no less than it will get issues shifting if you’re feeling caught.

If you’re working primarily by yourself, then these instruments may come in useful. Nevertheless, knowledgeable information (equivalent to of excellent taking pictures places!) and the social buzz that you just get from working with a bunch of individuals are laborious to exchange.

In regards to the writer: Joe Lenton FSICIP MA ASWPP ASINWP ADPS is a professional worldwide images choose and mentor with The Society of Photographers. He’s a freelance promoting photographer specializing in product and structure images. Based mostly in Norfolk, UK, Joe lives along with his spouse and two cats, Ozzy and Sharon.


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