5 minute read - Aug 17, 2021

Human Editing vs AI Editing

AI has changed many aspects of our daily lives and continues to make major waves in the photography world. In this article we will review the positives and negatives of utilizing traditional human editors as well as AI automated editing.
Darren Blench
Enterprise Partnerships

What’s the difference and how do you know which one to use?

If you think of robotic arms and futuristic movies when you hear the term “AI editing,” it’s time to think again. Editing that uses Artificial Intelligence already is part of everyday life for many of us. You use it every time you filter a photo or edit out a background.

A survey of about 2,000 people published by the visual tech magazine Kaptur found that more than half of the female respondents and nearly half of the male respondents used an online photo editor to remove red-eye and wrinkles and whiten teeth. About 67 percent of the women admitted they used an online photo editor to remove blemishes, while 51 percent of the men said they did the same thing.

But AI editing can do much more than just make us look good in our social media posts. As technologies improve and become easier to use, AI allows us to do many sophisticated things with photos with only a few clicks. What exactly is AI photo editing, and how does it differ from human photo editing? Is the sky the limit for this technology, or does it have limitations? We’ll take a look at these and other questions in this article to help you determine what you need for your e-commerce brand.

What is AI photo editing?

AI photo editing is a technology that turns manual photo editing tasks into semi-automatic actions. The tools use algorithms based on machine learning and a neural network to alter the look of the images.

For example, you can use AI editing to retouch portraits with just a few simple clicks rather than with hard manipulations with brushes and masks. AI allows photographers of all experience levels to replace a background, perform color correction, remove an object, and improve or enhance photos in other ways in just minutes.

Using pre-set guidelines created by human editors, AI editing programs can continue to have more capabilities and gain more efficiency in the speed and details of the edits they perform.

What are the benefits of AI editing?

 The big advantage of AI editing over human editing is the time it saves. And time means money. Human editors spend about 75 percent of their time on repetitive, time-consuming tasks. AI allows these professionals to focus their talents on detail-oriented or creative edits and changes.

When it’s time to launch a new product or seasonal collection, many e-commerce brands deal with a flood of new images all at once. AI editing tools allow you to handle simple edits—such as resizing or a background color change -- quickly and efficiently.

This greater efficiency is good for your bottom line. Most simple AI edits can be accomplished in just a few seconds per image. You can pass on the dollars you save to your customers.

Are there drawbacks to AI editing?

Is there a downside to using AI editing tools for your e-commerce photos? Here are several potential pitfalls you should consider.

Limitations. Because you are limited to algorithms with an AI editing tool, it works best for basic editing tasks. Manual tweaking may be needed for certain procedures. And that manual tweaking may take more time than if you had handled the project by hand in the first place.

Lack of creativity. AI photo editing can squelch creativity. Plus, you still need to check each image by hand, but you don’t have the satisfaction of knowing you made the initial edits yourself.

Mistakes. Speaking of checking each image by hand, AI editing is not foolproof. Graphic designers need to be on the lookout for small but noticeable problems with editing that could affect your brand’s reputation.

What are the advantages of human editing?

Faster is not always better, especially when it comes to creative work. Although machines are able to accomplish remarkable things these days, they still cannot replicate the human touch.

Here are some advantages to human-edited photos:

Distinction. Since they follow an algorithm, AI-edited photos tend to have the same look to them. Human edited photos, on the other hand, usually appear less homogenized and more unique.

Customization. Editors can make and fine-tune edits that would be missed by an AI tool.

Quality control. Human editors are editing as they are working, not checking for errors. Although it may take longer for a person to handle routine editing tasks than it would take for an AI tool to do the same thing, the results may be more reliable.

Which option works best for your brand?

Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer to this question. The truth is that you will probably need to determine your editing method on a per-project basis.

AI editing can be faster and cheaper when you need basic edits done on a large batch of photos. It is the way to go when you what to remove a background, for example. However, for more complex tasks -- such as virtual staging -- you may be better off with a human doing the work.

This dichotomy is why many professional editing teams use AI tools to handle large volumes of photos for some quick initial edits and then make additional changes and adjustments as needed afterward.

The bottom line regarding the question of AI versus human editing, though, is that both approaches depend on high-quality images in order to be their most effective.

No editing tool – human or machine – can make a bad photo look good. A professional photographer will shoot each image with the correct lighting, exposure, and clarity needed for optimal impact.

What’s the outlook for AI photo editing?

There is no doubt that AI tools will continue to influence photography for years to come. After all, new generations of smartphones are giving the average person photo-enhancing capabilities that would have seemed far-fetched just 10 years ago.

Here are a few of the new and up-and-coming editing tools:

Some people say AI tools are hurting the artistic aspect of photography, while others cheer all the new breakthroughs. What does seem to be true is that software innovations continue to outpace hardware innovations in the field of photography.

What also is true is that using AI for repetitive tasks can free up the photographer to take more and better photos.

Snappr is the premier on-demand photography network in the world. Our professional photographers and our in-house editors use the latest AI tools and time-honored manual techniques to ensure quality and consistency with every shoot every time.

Contact Snappr today to find out how we can make your photos attract and engage more customers.

About the author

Darren Blench
Enterprise Partnerships

Darren Blench leads partnerships for enterprise Other clients at Snappr. He has helped dozens of major players in the industry with their content strategy. He is available for a no-obligation consultation about your Other photography needs.

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