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Iconic Surfing Image Made Out of 1,000,000 Different Photos Sparked Controversy After Winning a Competition Earlier This Year

Published 04/25/2023, 7:35 AM EDT

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Photographers are magicians who preserve the true emotions of moments in pictures. But what if the photograph appears to be real? But is it? Two months back, an AI-generated surfing image created by assembling a million different photos won a photography competition in Australia. The bewildering anecdote later sparked controversy about a fake image winning a photography competition. However, its real creator explained his intention behind the experiment.

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On February 8, the mastermind behind the award-winning photograph at DigiDirect explained how AI-generated photography could be a potential threat to the industry.

The creator of the surfing image dropped some eye-opening facts


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Photographer and filmmaker Jamie Sissons did not capture but created a stunning image of two surfers wading towards a glorious sunset amidst giant waves approaching the shoreline. He did not have to physically go anywhere in the world to click the beautiful image. All he did was use stock images, easily available on the internet and blend them in his self-created AI art studio, Absolutely Ai.

The photographer did not enter his own name in the competition. He used Jane Eykes, as his image credit after getting inspired by the 15th-century artist Jan van Eyck. By entering his AI-generated drone shot image in the summer-themed photography competition, Jamie Sissons intended to prove a significant point. 


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Sissons told The San Fransico Standard, “We’re at a point now where machine may be the superior creator to man. Artificially intelligent technology has the capacity to learn from the masters of photography, painting and other creative endeavors to produce something entirely new and jaw-dropping. This technology is equally incredible and terrifying from a creator’s point of view.” 



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Besides Sissons, many other photography enthusiasts commented on the controversial and award-winning AI-generated image.

Rare Image of Surfing God Riding ‘The Cradle of Storms’ That Took 2 Years of Planning

Experts address the main issue of using AI in photography


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Analyzing Jamie Sissons’s views on artificial intelligence, local surf photographer Brian Feulner told in the interview, “This is not a technology issue, this is a people issue and how people use technology.” He reckoned that people are always going to use technology to their advantage, irrespective of authenticity. But it will raise ethical questions around usage rights, eventually.

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Sachi Cunningham, a journalism professor at San Francisco State University believed “the more tools we have at our disposal, the better.” She explained that it was more important to understand the intention behind using the tools. Besides creative uses, tools could be utilized for unethical motives as well. Hence, monitoring the right use of AI-editing tools must be mandatory.


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Watch This Story:  Surfing Photographer “Lit Up the Barrel Red and Orange” With Iconic ‘Wave on Fire’ Image

The advent of AI-generating technology in several creative fields has seen a massive panic. However, experts are devising ways for ethically using it without harming the theme of authenticity. Maybe then, things won’t get controversial.

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Written by:

Muskan Sharma


One take at a time

Muskan Sharma is a sports writer at EssentiallySports, specializing in Martial Arts, NHL, and other American sports. She is a degree holder in Journalism and Mass Communications. Muskan has been able to bring her unique set of skills and sensitivity while covering news stories.
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Edited by:

Brandon Gabriel