As photographers or artists, are we obligated to give away our creative secrets?
I’ve been dwelling on this question since grade school, when I refused to teach a friend how to write bubble letters because it felt like a magician revealing their sleight of hand. Decades later, I recognized a generosity of spirit while watching my favorite photographers give away their trade secrets so that anyone could create their style of photos.
I wanted to develop this quality of openness in myself, and squash out any kind of “lack mentality” that operates like there’s a scarcity of inspiration or creative methods. Art begets art, and sharing is a good thing.
But here I am, all these years later, wondering: Should I announce that my photos contain fake bits? Is it a deceitful secret? Does that fact steal away the magic I’m trying to create and cheapen my creative endeavors? Do I overthink everything and need to be sedated?
For years I’ve collected “background” photos – images I would deem worthy if only they had a creature to sit in its center. And suddenly, with the revelation of AI generators like DALL•E, these photos are finally getting their subjects.
You guys, my animals, of late, are fake.
I’ve discovered the wizardry of conjuring a counterfeit focal point for my real photos, via AI. This clearly breaches the border between photography and digital art, and I feel sheepish about using it without full disclosure. But this is very exciting for someone like me. Limitless possibilities with no copyright infringement and no need for a trained bear or taxidermy duck.
What do you think? Do you feel compelled to announce your methods? Is AI an innocent fiction or a fraudulent scourge on all things art?