By now, practically every photographer and visual artist has surely heard of one of the features that will arrive in Adobe Creative Suite 5‘s Photoshop upgrade: content-aware fill.
If you haven’t heard of this feature, all you need to do is watch the below video. And make sure you watch it through to the end.
I don’t think anyone can deny that this fill feature is an amazing achievement in technology and software. To eliminate whole trees and roads, and to fill in blue skies, rugged desert landscape, cloudy skies and anything else — with just a few clicks — well, that’s just amazing.
It’s also incredibly dangerous. I don’t think anyone with at least a basic understanding of photo/visual journalism ethics can deny that this fill feature allows for substantial manipulation and, if used, provides a very steep “slippery slope” toward letting nothing prevent one from publishing the “perfect” photo.
This afternoon, August and I briefly discussed the temptations and dangers imposed by the feature. The following is the end of our conversation:
- Me: This means the death of photojournalism.
- August: No, it just means the death of people’s trust in our photos.
- Me: Exactly — this means the death of photojournalism.
- August: Yeah… you’re right.
In short? If it works as effectively and efficiently as advertised, the content-aware fill feature is a godsend for portrait and commercial photographers. But I certainly hope that no photo/visual journalist considers using this tool.