LensShark Photography Podcast

LensShark Photography Podcast

Transcript of podcast

If you do street photography, or any type, really, involving people and think that, you know, maybe this person might not appreciate me posting their photo, well, maybe don’t. I mean, that’s an option. That’s gonna be a personal decision. Only you can decide, and, well, your local laws as well. But there might be arguments for and against posting versus not posting. But let’s say for the sake of this example, you’re doing street photography, you got a really great shot that you very much want to post, but the person confronts you, and they ask you to delete it. You kindly remind them that they’re in public, and you’ve got a right to take their photo, at least here in the US. But you tell them you’d be happy to replace their face. And yes, that rhymes. It happens. 


Face replacement isn’t entirely new, of course, but it was a pain in the backside until recently. Not only that, whose face do you replace theirs with? Do you hire a model and then photograph them from any number of angles just for this purpose? I mean, that’s kind of ridiculous, right? And if you’re replacing faces often, then you’ve got the same darn guy showing up over and over again, all over the place, like Forrest Gump. And that’s just goofy. And if you’ve got a street scene with, let’s say, five different recognizable faces, what are you doing? Photographing five people? And then no matter where you shoot, the same five people just happen to show up? That is weird. That’s just not going to work. I think you see where this is going here, right? Yep. AI. I know, I know. AI this and AI that, but that’s our world now. We’re alive at an amazing time in human history, I think. We’re witnessing the birth of AI. From here until the sun destroys this planet, or we manage to do that first, AI is part of our lives. So I think it’s valuable to learn about and see if you can make use of it, right? And swapping out faces of real people for AI-generated ones might just be a good use for that. Not in my old career of photojournalism, mind you. That would have been a big no-no. 


If you’re in public and you get photographed, you might just be in the paper or on their website. That’s something I had to explain to people all the darn time. You feel like a jerk sometimes, but that’s life in a free society. Subjects don’t dictate the news. You don’t want to live in that world. 


Anyhow, there’s some new online software called PiktID, and I’m sure there’s others that are going to be coming down the pike. With this software, a photographer can easily replace someone’s face in a photo and not have to worry about that person suing them, harassing them, and what have you. And since these AI-generated faces are of people who don’t exist, you can sell these images through microstock companies, etc. You don’t need a model release. As for the ethics of swapping faces in your photos, I don’t know. Coming from journalism, it makes me a little bit uncomfortable, but maybe we go with the no-harm, no-foul rule. Is it something photographers should disclose when they post their images? Unless it’s purported to be news, maybe not. Why does it really matter? In my mind, if there’s a particular subject walking down the street and they look at you or even make a face at you, so long as AI can replicate that, but with the face of someone who doesn’t exist, maybe that’s okay. I say maybe because I haven’t entirely made my mind up on this yet. Are you duping your viewers? Kinda. Does it matter whose face it is as long as you’re not using the face of a public figure and trying to cause them harm, etc.? These are the things we need to think about. And I suspect everyone is gonna come to a different conclusion, have situational qualifiers, etc. and that’s all valid. Maybe there’s even gonna be laws about this someday, but today is not that day. It is the wild, wild west out there when it comes to AI. 


We live in a world where you might get an amazing shot, but showing it might embarrass that person. And now you can take care of that. Heck, I’ve got an example of my own. A couple of years back, our next-door neighbors were having a going away party for a friend, so I set up a makeshift studio in my driveway so we had more room than in my garage, also known as the Kupo cave. Well, while we were out there shooting, a delivery driver pulled up and one of our neighbors coaxed him into the photos. He was all too happy to pose for a photo that his employer probably wouldn’t appreciate. He’s supposed to be delivering after all, not doing a photoshoot. It wasn’t anything lewd or anything like that. I mean, this was in my driveway after all. We live in a cul-de-sac and the whole neighborhood was out there. But the point is, this guy was on company time. I could see him getting reprimanded for that, so I’ve never posted it. Maybe it’s me overthinking. I don’t know. It’s a really funny photo, and I would love to show it sometime. For one, who does a shoot in their driveway? And also, what are the chances of a delivery driver not only showing up while you’re doing a shoot, but also jumping into the photos? The chances have got to be relatively small. 


Well, with this PiktiD software, I could change that guy’s face so he doesn’t get in trouble. I’d probably also want to change the vest, come to think of it, because that company is rather large. They have light blue vests. You know who I’m talking about. Come to think of it, I’d probably also want to change his tattoos also. But anyways, his face would be recognizable. This online-based software, though, would solve that. 


Now, another possible use of this software that I could see is changing the identities of children in photos, because whether it’s street photography or otherwise, and you’ve got the right to photograph them, parents, of course, get really ticked off about that sort of thing, and maybe it’s best to just not use their photos or change the faces, right? 


And another use still that people are talking about is brands who are global. They could use this software to change the ethnicity of someone in a photo. You might do a photoshoot in America, but in China, the person probably should be Chinese, I’m guessing. And in India, they’d be Indian, etc. In melting pots like the US, you can just go wild, and it could be anyone. I could think of so many darn uses for this thing. 


As for pricing, PiktID, which is P-I-K-T-I-D, by the way, like so many software and service companies has a couple of pricing models. Subscription plans, which start at 19 euros a month, which is roughly $20 US currently, and that works out to be 0.63 euros per credit for 40 credits. And with the plans above that, the per credit gets as low as 0.39 euros. And since the euro is pretty close to being on parity with the dollar, you could turn that into cents, and it’s roughly the same thing. So 63 cents per credit for the first 40 and 39 cents per credit when you get to the higher There’s also a pay-as-you-go option, but the cost per credit’s gonna be higher, of course. I reached out to this company so I could get access to the higher resolution version of their software online, but before I heard back from them, I ran that photo of the delivery driver and the neighbor’s friend through the software, and I gotta tell ya, it is unbelievable. My wife, who is not a photographer and really doesn’t care about photography at all, looked at the two photos, and she was blown away. She could not tell it was an AI-generated face. It looked that real to her. I know what to look for, and I’ve gotta say, totally believable, didn’t look fake at all. You would just never guess that that was AI-generated. 


Now that I can run it through again, but come out with an output that’s high resolution, I’m gonna do that, and I’m gonna post it to my social media accounts, which is at Lensshark. So watch for that in the next few days. Unfortunately, I can’t post the original because that would defeat the purpose of this whole darn thing. Maybe what I’ll do is I’ll run it through a couple times, and I’ll post two different versions, and you can just think of one of them as being the original. You’ll get the point here. You can change out the faces, and it looks so darn real. I should mention that they’ve got a free trial in which you get 10 credits, so that’s 10 different uses of it, but it generates low-quality faces, like I said. What it did generate, though, even at low quality, still looked pretty real, so that’s pretty impressive. 


Also, across the top of the free photos, it says EraseID in the corner, so I’m guessing that might be what this software used to be called. And honestly, I think EraseID makes a lot more sense, and it’s catchier, but maybe they chose not to use it for a good reason. I don’t know. It works incredibly well, so check it out sometime, and I think this is one of those uses of AI that might save you a lot of time and angst when it doesn’t matter whose face is in the photo, like with street photography. 


And I wouldn’t be surprised if Adobe or another company acquired them, because this is the kind of software that should be built into Lightroom. Being able to do it right there in your photo editor rather than having to round-trip stuff would definitely be more helpful, but either way, it’s not that big of a deal.