Street Photography and Art vs Artificial Intelligence

Photography is a very human activity. It allows us to focus on the most interesting and most positive aspects of everyday life.

I saw a great meme the other day, it said, “We don’t need AI to make Art. We need it to do our emails, to do our shopping, and organise our paperwork. That way, artists can get on with making more art.”


After checking my emails I went shopping. The weather is really turning spring-like.

The sun is shining, it’s warmish, the mood on the street is on an uptick, and people are hanging out like salamanders enjoying the sun.

My thoughts immediately turned to dumping the shopping and going out to take photos.

Street photography in all its forms, works for me. It gets my brain in gear, moves my feet, and there’s nothing more pleasant than discovering a great new angle through the lens when the sun is on your back.

Photo by CJ Dayrit on Unsplash
Photo by CJ Dayrit on Unsplash

I’d love it if AI would deal with the letters from the insurance company, the emails, and the rest of the post.

It would be cool if the great new and improved AI brain would organise it so that the postal service delivered all of my mail directly to my door, as per contract inherent in the stamp.

Instead, they take it out of their post office warehouse, into a van, drive around, and then drop it off at another post office. Leaving me an email to tell me where to pick it up.

The main post office is one kilometre from my home, the office where my mail is dropped is three kilometres from my home — apparently, this is convenient for me.

But, photography. If you’re a photographer of any kind, you’ll know that you do it because it has some type of deep pull on the soul. It makes us feel more alive. It’s a beautiful tool that we use to weave magical spells.

We capture a little ounce of spring time in the prism of light. The magic box draws the finest details in, gathers them, and our brain will revel in the task of ordering those detail, colours, and shadows around the light that attracts the human soul.

We take the shot and breathe out, hoping it’ll be a keeper.

Eberswalderstr Ubahnhof. Copyright; Sean P. Durham, Berlin, 2023

We don’t need AI to help us, as much as we don’t need another person to lean over our shoulder and direct our camera work.

It’s our individual experience.

If you take ten photographers, and give them AI software to create images, some of them will dive in and learn everything they can about it. Some of them will see it’s ‘power’, and utilize it to build a business idea, others will allow their creative brain to run away with them, stay awhile, then the real photographers — the creative ones — will hanker for their little black box of magic.

The camera is enough help. It came into its own right as a tool for imaging, long ago.

The magic of a camera, albeit a machine/computer, is that it lets the human run away with their imagination.

Give a real creative person the choice; AI software to play with, a camera with endless possibilities to think about, or neither of the two before but a piece of paper and charcoal. The creative person will want free-willed expression, so they’ll take the paper and charcoal. It offers freedom, and challenges, and personal expression.

AI offers a surprise. A wow! moment, of, “have you seen this!?” It soon becomes obvious that AI can pump out endless reams of information that, for now, make people gasp and giggle at the amazing new software. The novelty soon wears thin.

I’ve been taking photos for decades, writing fiction and non fiction for twelve years, I’m still in awe of how these mental disciplines stretch my mind to its limits, tower above me like great spirits, yet they always show me the way forwards to new creative endeavours — it’s a lifetime of self-discovery. Not a novelty.

We can take photos as experiments, or follow rigid rules for a sure enough outcome, and we can be fine artists, or commercial artists, or simply be in it for the business. We have to pay the bills. We have to create.

But we have to find ourselves in this life. To be happy, we must search and find something that creates a reflection of who we are. We are creative souls, we must create something — daily.

In business, you must look for a good idea; seek the pain-point in a person’s life and offer a solution to that problem. Build it, and they will use it — when they know about it.

AI, and it’s present condition of learning, is all about taking away the creative tasks that we love to do.

Somebody seems to have forgotten that humans need to be busy in order to be happy.

The highest form of busy-ness in a human being is the act of creativity. Painting, music, writing, singing, photography and many more arts, such as tiddly-winks; not as easy as it looks — ask the world champion.

It seems to me that the makers of AI and the internet gurus haven’t asked the important question, “where’s the pain-point?”, “do people really want to just sit on their hands all day long, staring at a screen that pumps out fascinating images?”

I’ll hazard a guess, people don’t want to whittle away their lives doing nothing. Nothing is as good as dead. Taking away the creative tasks of life, however mind-boggling they be, is a sure-fire way of ending the human experience.


When I look through the lens, I see a problem, a kaleidoscope of colours, trembling leaves on a tree, reds and golds, rays of spring time, and the shifting clouds of people as they make their way along a street.

It may take me a few more seconds to figure it out, to balance it, to ensure that the end result will be as best I can do, but the shot will be a keeper that reminds me that I lived a small and meaningful moment, a private moment, later shared with friends. Friends here, and at home who ‘get it’. I know they understand the difference.

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