A New Photographic Quest: Capturing Moments Of Shared Human Emotion

Capturing the experience of shared human emotion in a real-life moment is my new photographic quest. Someone asked me a couple of weeks ago why I don’t take as many sunrise photos as I used to. I’ve thought about that a great deal. It has been a conscious decision, actually.

For example, I have taken trips to two different ocean locations in the last six months where I did not take my professional camera. I didn’t want the temptation to remove myself from the moment to spend time editing the images. That would not have happened two years ago.

This all corresponds with the release of generative AI image-creation tools like Dall-e, Midjourney, and Stability AI. I have spent a great deal of time working in Midjourney specifically. It is my favorite generative AI tool. The results have gone from their initial curiosity-inducing but basic generation capabilities to what I can only describe as mind-blowingly realistic and creative in less than two years.

I’ve never hidden the fact that I enjoy editing photos almost as much as I enjoy taking them. With landscapes, this was particularly true. I was typically alone on a trail and alone in my experience of the moment. And while I took great personal joy in those moments, it wasn’t until I began editing that the full glory of the image would emerge. I love that editing process. But I do that alone as well.

I have found this: I get the same fix now when I use the generative AI tools. There is still the image capture and image editing process. It’s just different. Instead of a camera, Midjourney is my image capture device. And I still use Photoshop, Lightroom, and Luminar NEO to edit the images if required. And when you can produce images like the one below, I hope you can see the draw.

human emotions
“Captured” in Midjourney using the prompt: a creek in West Virginia in the fall, sunrise, epic lighting, epic atmosphere, ground perspective. Edited in Topaz Gigapixel AI and Adobe Lightroom.

Like my solo hikes to capture sunrises, I was alone when the image was created, and during the editing. There was no moment of shared human emotion. Whatever reaction you have had to my sunrise photos in the past could be recreated, if I chose, using artificial intelligence. There is no real moment of shared human emotion between us here. And that is what I find myself seeking.

My most recent sunrise photos have not been taken while I was alone. I shared the experience with my family, and the images brought us, and will continue to bring us, shared joy. And we have distributed among ourselves other photos taken in those moments of collective joy.

The featured photo at the top of this post shows so many levels of shared human emotion. There was a crowd in attendance who were part of it as observers. And the players experienced it in a completely different way, inside the moment, the focal point of the moment. The image will create feelings for them that the crowd will never understand. And that is also what I find myself seeking.

Of course, one day AI will be able to generate a photo that looks like it. It can’t yet. I tried. 🙂 And Robots may always be capturing images automatically during these kinds of events. Hudl already provides cameras that capture games without human interaction. But what AI will never be able to replicate are these moments of shared human emotion. Those are ours. And I want to be a part of that capture. That’s my new photographic quest.

Many of the photos found on this site and more may be purchased here: jeffturner.smugmug.com.

EXIF Data Below Applies Only To The Featured Photo In This Post
  • Aperture: ƒ/2.8
  • Camera: ILCE-1
  • Taken: 17 February, 2024
  • Exposure bias: -1EV
  • Focal length: 70mm
  • ISO: 1250
  • Shutter speed: 1/640s
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