Industry News

Instagrammers Admit to Passing off AI Art as Real

March 1, 2023

By Hillary K. Grigonis

Photo: @emanuele_boffa on Instagram

This is one of the images Emanuele Boffa admitted was AI generated.

Should all AI-generative art be labeled as such—or is the fault in the viewer for assuming that a photograph is an untouched one? A photographer has admitted to mixing photographs made by Artificial Intelligence into his Instagram, just a few weeks after a digital artist admitted almost his entire feed of portraits is generated by Photoshopping images generated from Midjourney. Earlier this week, Italian photographer Emanuele Boffa revealed that five images in his feed were computer generated.

Boffa’s AI generated images were not labeled differently than the other photographs in his feed. However, the artist labels himself as both a “photographer” and a “digital artist” in his profile, a bio that now also lists AI Integration among tools like Blender, Photoshop, Affinity, and Capture One. Boffa, who has previously been featured in Photo Vogue’s Pic of The Day, shares both portraits and landscape images on his feed, often with a moody, dystopian or fantasy feel to the images.

Many of Boffa’s images have a heavily edited feel to them—and Boffa told PetaPixel that “my photos for years have never been pure.” He went on to say that “artificial intelligence, when used correctly, generates exactly what there is in the mind of the author.”

[Read: U.S. Copyright Office: Randomly Generated A.I. Artwork Isn’t Protected]

Earlier this year, digital artist Jos Avery revealed that the images in his Instagram feed that generated thousands of followers are almost all AI-generated portraits. Avery said that he originally started the account to write an article on what happened with the fake photos, but instead found his views changed as he worked with the software. But, he didn’t simply allow people to assume the images were real—he once commented that the images were shot with a Nikon D810.

While Avery’s images are AI-generated, they typically don’t have the telltale signs like anatomically incorrect people, low resolution, or a lack of detail. That’s because Avery mixes the images with heavy Photoshop work. He explained that AI generated 13,723 images for him to create 160 images. His process involves combing through the different generative images, selecting the best ones, mixing the best features of the images together, and upscaling. The result is a collection of images that, while many have telltale signs of heavy Photoshop like overly white sclera, feel more like a real portrait than most AI-generated images of people that don’t actually exist.

The AI-generated Instagrams build on an ongoing debate on the ethics of such programs, which are typically trained on millions of human-generated artwork, often without the artist’s permission.