Annie Leibovitz Says She’s Not Worried About AI

Annie Leibovitz
Kevin Fitzsimons

The world’s most famous photographer Annie Leibovitz says she’s not worried about artificial intelligence (AI) and that photography itself isn’t real.

Leibovitz gave her thoughts on AI while being inducted as a foreign associate member of the French Academy of Fine Arts in a ceremony at the Institute of France yesterday (Wednesday).

“That doesn’t worry me at all,” she tells AFP. “With each technological progress, there are hesitations and concerns. You just have to take the plunge and learn how to use it.”

In her comments, Leibovitz suggests that AI-generated images have just as much merit as photographs.

“Photography itself is not really real… I like to use Photoshop. I use all the tools available.”

She adds that even framing a shot implies “editing and control on some level.”

Leibovitz’s AI Comments Won’t Thrill Everyone

The debate around AI and photography for the last 18 months has been intense with many outraged over the technology.

Major AI image generators have used hundreds of millions of copyrighted photographs for training data without asking permission or compensation from the rights holders.

Moreover, there is concern that AI imagery is encroaching on the photography space. For example, AI is increasingly being used for product shots with Google and Amazon both rolling out AI tools for merchants. And some apps are outright advertising themselves as being a cheap replacement for photographers.

But not everyone is up in arms and many photographers are embracing the technology and learning how to use it. After all, photographers have an advantage when using the technology because of their understanding of the still image.

Salgado Inducts Leibovitz

Leibovitz says it is “quite an honor” to be inducted into the French Academy of Fine Art; noting that it wasn’t until 2004 that a photographer joined the academy.

“It’s a bigger honor for photography,” she adds.

“I like to be behind the camera, not in front. But you realize at a certain point, when you have children as well, that you need to step up and be there for the next generation of artists and photographers.”

Fellow photographer Sebastião Salgado, who is also a member of the academy, gave a speech in Leibovitz’s honor at the induction ceremony.