Can You Tell Which Magazine Cover is an AI Generated Photo?

AI photo

A French photo magazine has published an artificial intelligence (AI) image on its front cover in a bid to raise awareness over the technology’s ability to impersonate authentic photographs.

Réponses Photo published a “portrait” that image synthesizer model Midjourney created to underline how far the technology has come in a short space of time.

Which Photo is the Real One?

Réponses Photo’s March 2023 issue features a “photo of an old sailor at night in front of his boat taken on an analog medium format camera,” which is actually the text prompt written to generate the image artificially. The January/February 2023 cover features a photo taken by Raymond Depardon in Chile.

Front cover featuring an AI image.
Front cover featuring an AI image
Magazine cover with a real photo taken by photographer Raymond Depardon

The magazine doesn’t actually declare that the image is AI on its front cover, opting to write an in-depth piece about text-to-image models inside the publication.

Behind this front page, we wanted to show how much these technologies have evolved in the last few months,” editor-in-chief Thibaut Godet explains to PetaPixel.

“So much so that you can now be fooled very easily. When the reader will discover this issue, he will not normally see immediately that the image was made by AI.”

Godet says that he ran “300 tests” to create the front page.

“I wanted to make an image that looked like the iconic photos we usually use on the cover,” he says. “It had to illustrate the main feature of this issue around the new challenges of night photography.”

AI image
AI image

Godet accepts that there are still limitations to the technology.

“Midjourney still has difficulties to realize the eyes, but also to put the right number of fingers on a hand,” he says

“The results are still amazing and I think that in the future, our media might be fooled by such achievements. Réponses Photo often organizes photo contests, and it is not long before a reader wins a competition with an AI-generated image. 

A New Technological Age

AI image generators were still niche this time last year but have exploded in popularity with the models coming on leaps and bounds since their arrival in the spring of 2022. Coupled with AI language model ChatGPT, some are asking whether we are at a new technological dawn.

However, the AI models are not without controversy. Getty Images, the world’s largest photo library, is suing Stable Diffusion for an eyewatering $1.8 trillion for copyright infringement.