In the beginning, there was the Word. And the Word was a Prompt and behind the Prompt was a Human. Artificial intelligence may be the talk of the town, but Geoff Ang believes that homo sapiens still hold the keys to creativity. “The future will be about that unique idea,” says Ang, who has been an international fashion and commercial photographer for over 30 years. “It takes an original mind to come up with the prompts to create an image. That is something AI can’t take away.”
Ang recently produced the images for Citibank’s Portraits of True Worth campaign highlighting the works and passions of three women. The stories of Belinda Lee, Dr Jessica Lee, and Claire Jedrek were told in a panorama-collage. The picture within a picture composition creates a narrative in addition to revealing different facets of the personalities.
Featured for her community work, television personality Belinda Lee is captured in a vulnerable moment, crying with a friend. Conservation biologist Jessica Lee’s curiosity about her environment shines forth in images showing her trekking through a forest (below). Ang snaps her peering at birds, the ground, the sky, and many things in between. Athlete Claire Jedrek’s straddling of motherhood and competitive sports is palpable in her story.
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“For a long time, I was afraid of telling people I was a mother; I was afraid it would change who I am,” Jedrek admits. “Now, it’s about letting go of ego and working with myself to give to others.”
Says Ang: “We had long conversations with each of the personalities to understand who they are. I wanted to chase a more observational narrative, like a fly on the wall, and used long lenses so the subjects would forget I was there.”
Would AI be able to replicate the story-telling on its own? Ang believes not and sees AI as a tool in the artist’s arsenal. “Look at the evolution of photography. Ten to 15 years ago, car photographers would shoot physical cars. Now they are CGI directors. They would direct the shot, determine the lighting, the angle, perhaps shoot the background, but the car is digitally inserted.
“Adapting to artificial intelligence would be a similar evolution. The image may be artificially generated, but I still have to tell the computer how to frame or light it. It’s my own aesthetic. Creatives who survive would be those with a strong sense of style and originality … and the ability to talk about their craft and work.” That’s the voice of experience speaking.