“A tool is an extension and improvement to your process that makes it faster and easier but doesn’t replace you or your creative processes entirely,” says photographer Anya Anti to the Phoblographer in an interview while wondering if she’s ocerreacting about it replacing photographers. “But as a professional retoucher and Photoshop educator, I’m still very much concerned about where and how my career will go.” She started using Photoshop’s Generative Fill recently in some of her work. And she think there’s a difference between a tool and a program that does everything for you.
The Creative Ways of Anya Anti
As a child, Anya was good at painting and crafts. She didn’t have any formal training and in 2009 she got a DSLR. “Having no art background and no access to professional education I had to learn everything by myself,” she tells us — reiterating a personal point with the American education system’s failings to making the public understand art. “…I gained all my knowledge and inspiration through social media and online photography communities. A year and a half later, I got into portraiture.” For Anya, she wanted to bring her creative vision alive. She dove into fantasy work and surreal portraits.
Her work uses simple tools. Right now she uses a Nikon Z7, 50mm f1.8, and 85mm f1.8 lenses. Then she also uses silver reflectors and lighting gear. “I never just ‘“’take a photo,’ but I use photography as a way of collecting material to create something that is not possible to capture,” she tells us. “That’s why gear is not that important to me and plays one of the roles in my creative process. It’s the artist who creates work, not the camera.” To that end, she reasons that it’s tricky to know when a photograph isn’t a photograph anymore.
“I don’t know. But there’s a fine line.”
For most of Anya’s career, she’s struggled with people saying that her work isn’t photography — so she’s had to defend herself. “Photography always starts with a camera taking an image through the process of capturing light on a sensor,” she states. “And that is exactly what my work is. It always starts with me taking a picture with my camera.” She admits to doing a lot of compositing but also states that she does as much as possible on set. In fact, she doesn’t swap backgrounds — Anya travels to real locations, builds real sets and props, and she doesn’t use stock images all that often.
She gets her inspiration from fairy tales, folklore, cinema, etc. Another big thing: anya takes everyday objects and looks at them with a different angle and unconventional way of thinkings.
With all this said, she doesn’t consider AI generated images an art form or a creative product. Anya reasons that there’s no skill, talent, experience, or knowledge. “It’s the equivalent of fast food or fast fashion,” she expresses. “It’s a product that we now generate to consume, it’s fast, it’s easy, it’s cheap. It’s fast content.” Then she really gets into it.
A person I know once said to me: “I love AI. I never knew how to draw or paint but now I can generate these cool images within 5 minutes sitting on the toilet”. That sums it up. Is this really the direction we want our art and creativity to go? People with no skill, talent, hard work or deeper intention producing meaningless images within 5 minutes in the bathroom?Anya Anti
Anya believes that it’s already super difficult for various photographers in an algorithm-driven social media space that forces them to turn art into content. To her, it’s a devaluation of everything that photographers do — especially with the addition of AI. “Suddenly nobody can differentiate whether it’s human-made or machine-made,” she says. “And nobody cares, there’s just so much stuff online. I already get questions from people: ‘Oh, is this AI?'” It’s heartbreaking for her, and she’s been shooting for almost 15 years. These days, she has to actively prove that her work isn’t AI.
The Phoblographer works with human photographers to verify that they’ve actually created their work through shoots. These are done by providing us assets such as BTS captures, screenshots of post-production, extra photos from the shoot, etc. We do this to help our readers realize that this is authentically human work. Here’s what this photographer provided for us.