The age of grain in photography

May 14, 2024

We could be about to enter the age of grain in photography. This will be as a way to stand apart from the standard look being generated by AI images.

When Photo Heads began our aim was to produce commercial photography that had personality. We shot almost everything on a 35mm lens (and still do, when possible) and we edited with a leaning towards a film look, although this has changed a little these days but we are still big fans of the film look.

One way to make digital images look closer to film, was  to add a little grain and texture to the picture.

It looks like grain is about to be big again. There are a number of imperfections that might become more fashionable in photography as a reaction to the slick, polished look of AI produced images. Some of the AI generated images are incredible, some a terrible but the good ones really do look like well crafted images. But at some point they’ll start to look too good.

Once that happens and all the images start to look the same there will be a reaction and that’s when you might start seeing people inserting human imperfections into their images. Motion blur, grain, anything that looks a little different from the standard, almost plastic look.

One reason that people approach us to shoot for them is to produce images that don‘t look like stock images and the reaction to AI images will be the same. Once people have had their fill, they will want something that helps them stand out.

This isn’t me criticising AI generated images. I think that there’s a place for it, much like there’s a place for stock photography. However, there will be a reaction.

There are some things that you would, couldn’t or even shouldn’t use AI generated photography for, such as headshots or product photos. But even these will probably start leaning towards things like grain just to show that they’re the real people or the real products.

It might not happen quickly but watch this space. Within the next year or so, you will probably start to notice grain, blur or imperfections in the images.

Written by Paul Tschornow

If you want to find out more about creating some commercial photography content for your business then you know what to do – get in touch and we’ll have a chat about what you need and how we can make that happen for you.Photo Heads can mostly be found photographing in London, sometimes in Bristol and occasionally elsewhere but we do travel throughout the UK and Europe. Don’t forget to follow @thephotoheads on Instagram.

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