Flair markets itself as “The AI design tool for branded content,” but based on hands-on impressions, it leaves much to be desired.
First seen in an article on Fast Company concerning how artificial intelligence-based technology is coming to replace photographers, Flair makes lofty claims about its capabilities, suggesting that people can create professional-quality product photos for their branded content in a few simple steps. Before assessing that claim, what does Fast Company writer Jesus Diaz say about Flair?
Referring to Photo AI, an app that promises to let photographers create virtually unlimited portraits of people wearing different clothes, in various poses, and within diverse environments, Diaz writes, “Flair promises to do the same as Photo AI but for product shots. It is way more sophisticated and a lot more useful for creatives.”
Diaz lauds Flair for the amount of control it gives its users and how it allows people to “draw” a rough layout of the product photo they want and augment a text prompt to generate the final photo.
To be fair to Diaz, he never claims that Flair’s results are good enough for professional product photo use. However, he does suggest they may work well enough for Etsy users or even be used as mockups in a high-end, professional setting.
It's over for product photographers.
AI can now create professional product images for free.
Here's how you can create beautiful photos of your products in 3 simple steps: pic.twitter.com/yrdawwTCnl
— Moritz Kremb (@moritzkremb) June 12, 2023
That is an ambitious claim. But is it true?
Flair promises to deliver high-end product photography using user-created images alongside AI-generated assets. A user uploads a photo of a product — Flair can even remove the product from a background — and then the user can generate a product shot using different built-in options, like stands, props, people, including AI’s mortal enemy, hands, and backgrounds.
PetaPixel tested Flair using its built-in product photo assets, which already lack backgrounds. Flair says that users can use any photo as long as the lighting is natural, the image is sharp, and an object is fully in the picture. Even photos captured with a smartphone should work.
Once a product photo is uploaded, Flair is all about dragging and dropping. The user interface allows people to resize and rotate photos and assets and move them from back to front. However, there is not complete manual control over layers, and in practice, the UI is not nearly as user-friendly as it appears at first glance.
“Describing your dream photoshoot” is integral to Flair’s alleged appeal. Users should have at least two of subject, placement, surroundings, and background/environment described in the text prompt. As users pick options from Flair’s menus, the text prompt is created, although it remains customizable before generating the final photo.
Does it Work?
A more robust answer to that question is that Flair sort of works in extremely limited situations.
Some people have created decent product photos using Flair, although few stand up to close inspection. Many of them, even the better ones, include strange shadows and unconvincing lighting.
Giving Flair the best chance for success, PetaPixel experimented with the website, using only Flair’s built-in assets and prompts. Without veering off the beaten path, perhaps it is possible to use the app to make good product photos. Kremb certainly thinks so, even though nothing in his video above seems convincing.
Whiskey Bottle: I Need a Drink
One of Flair’s included assets is a whiskey bottle. After frustrating finagling and a few stops and starts with the prompt generation process, the final request is a “whiskey bottle on top of a natural hill with bird flying in the background, in front of mountains and cloudy skies in the background.”
Thinking that this would deliver a product photo with a natural, rugged look and feel, the resulting four images were disappointing, to say the least.
To be fair to Flair, Midjourney, a very capable AI platform, was also confused with the request, at least at first.
However, after a bit of tweaking, Midjourney created four decent product photos of a whiskey bottle, including a couple that probably would not look out of place in an actual advertisement, at least after a bit of touching up. It is unclear why Midjourney opted to have the bottles full of different amounts of whiskey in each image.
Perfume Bottle in Hands: Something Smells Rotten
“Perfume bottle on hand, in front of sunlight streaming down.”
The text prompt makes sense to me. However, simply put, the results are not good.
Midjourney did a much better job, although these are not like-for-like recreations.
Coffee Cup: A Morning Cup of ‘No’
Attempting to create a product image of a woman holding a cup of coffee — there were not the required human assets to make a convincing outline of a person holding a cup to their mouth to drink — resulted in this dire result.
The background is apparently “city skyscrapers,” by the way.
I had a specific sort of marketing photo in mind, which Midjourney reasonably generated with little effort. That is not to say that these are truly convincing “photos,” but they are not bad at all and a far cry from Flair’s meager attempt.
A Candle: A Missed Lay-up
It does not get much simpler than this. It is a candle on a circular platform in front of fairy lights. I thought this would be akin to putting a baseball on a tee and giving Flair unlimited swings.
Not so fast. What is this platform? Where are the fairy lights? What is with the weird shadow beneath the candle?
That is more like it. Of Midjourney’s numerous impressive generations, these are the most convincing. None of these would look out of place in a real-world marketing campaign.
Contextualizing the Results
Flair seems terrible, but keeping the results in context is essential.
I was unable to achieve anything resembling a professional result using Flair. However, some people have and are using images generated by Flair to market and sell their products.
For example, the image below, created by Monica, the founder of Café Sito, looks okay. Would a professional photographer have done better? Yes, but not every business has the budget to hire a high-end product and commercial photographer. That is an important consideration — good photography is not free. However, it is money well spent.
It is easy to understand why people demand something like Flair. However, despite major recent advances in AI technology, it still seems easy to justify spending the money to hire a competent product photographer, especially when trying to market and sell goods.
High-quality product photography is an excellent skill for photographers to have in their toolkits. At least for now, AI cannot replace a talented photographer’s abilities, and it will likely never be able to replace the client-focused attention a real-life person can deliver.
Pricing and Availability
People can try Flair for free now. A $10 per month “professional” plan allows users to generate unlimited photos each month with unlimited upscaling and editing tools. Flair also offers custom tailor-made design tools for specific companies, although pricing depends on the client’s needs.
All that said, it is our opinion that you should not use Flair, regardless of its price, in its current form. Product photographers have no fear, your job is safe if this is the competition.