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A Deep Dive into the Clean Photography Trend

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At the beginning of 2024, we talked a little about the upcoming photography trends that are expected to become more prominent throughout the year. During this blog, we touched briefly on the ‘clean photography’ trend, and sure enough, this is a method of photography that has been gaining more and more traction as the days go by. 

With this in mind, we think it’s time to take a deeper dive into the trend and what it could mean for the future of photography. What exactly is clean photography? Is it a good thing or a bad thing, and should you be applying it to your own photography? 

Clean Photography: An Explainer

Technology has been a great thing for photography, there’s no doubt about that. Without upgrades in technology, we wouldn’t have the kind of smartphone cameras we do today, we wouldn't have social media platforms to post our pictures on, and you wouldn’t have the ability to create a photo book in 2 clicks

Not only this, but editing technology has been a great help in providing the finishing touches to our photographs, giving us the means to crop, resize, apply filters, and ultimately tweak a photo from ‘good’ to ‘great’.

With that being said, there is a line to be drawn when it comes to merging photography with technology, and ‘clean photography’ certainly threatens to cross it. For those unaware, this is the process of using AI tools to remove and replace unwanted elements in a photograph, essentially automating the editing process to create a more focused, clutter-free photo with the perfect lighting, composition, and quality. 

Is Clean Photography a Good Thing?

We reckon half of you have read that and thought: Oh, that’s awesome! While the other half have choked on their morning coffee in disgust. AI is of course a controversial topic, especially in the world of creativity. We’ve already written an article on whether AI will ruin photography, and figured that it was really down to humans to decide. With clean photography, however, we are beginning to see where the wind is blowing. 

While on the one hand, photographers are already using editing software – and so any way to streamline that experience should be a good thing – there is a case for people who think AI is making the process too simple, killing any of the creativity that is inherent in photography as a hobby.

If we had to give an opinion, we would probably side with the latter half. While new tech can be an exciting thing in the world of photography, we should all be very wary about how we allow AI to enter our creative space. When you upload photographs to our photo book maker, for instance, you’re doing so because they’re your photographs. Your heart has gone into them, your emotions, your mindset, your unique creative angle on life. If AI starts having a say on what that creative angle should look like, then your photographs cease to become a natural extension of yourself.

Individualism in Photography

It’s important to note that there’s no such thing as a perfect photograph, or even a clean photograph. Part of the reason we love photography is because every photograph is individual, contextual, and in most cases, beautifully and unapologetically imperfect. With clean photography, however, people are taking away the imperfections and, in the process, taking away the parts that make a photograph interesting and unique. A case can also be made that clean photography removes the reality of a situation, and photography is all about capturing that reality. 

As we mentioned before, people are already using editing software, so we wouldn’t argue with anyone suggesting this is just another, more streamlined way to edit. Perhaps it is just that. But the dangers of mixing AI with creativity must be a conversation now that AI is becoming more prominent. 

The Why and the What

One of the glorious things about photography is that it’s all about the why. Why did you take that photograph? Why did you choose that angle? Why does the image make you feel a certain way? With AI, however, it’s only ever about the what. You cannot ask AI an emotionally-based question about why it chose to compose a photograph in a certain kind of way – and you certainly can’t expect an individualistic answer. It all comes down to the algorithm and that, for us, is pretty boring.

So would we recommend you go along with the clean photography trend? It’s your choice, of course. We’d simply suggest that your photographs don’t have to be squeaky clean. There should be inconsistencies, mistakes, and personal choices that might resonate only for you. That’s the point of creativity and, if you think about it, the point of humanity too. That’s something we don’t think a robot would ever get.


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