AI photo wins Sony Photography Awards

Occurred: April 2023

Photographer Boris Eldagsen rattled the photography industry by winning the annual Sony Photography Awards with an undisclosed AI-generated photograph, resulting in accusations of unethical and inappropriate behaviour, and shoddy awards governance.

Controversially, Eldagsen turned down the prize after he had been awarded it, stating his entry had been intended to provoke and accelerate debate about the nature of photography in the AI era. 'AI is not photography', he said, when rejecting his award.

The judges later confirmed they knew 'elements' of the entry had been created using AI, and Eldagsen changed his tune, arguing AI 'is about liberating artists' and 'is not a threat.' 

The shift prompted some commentators to accuse Eldagsen of being more interested in publicity than in the principles, ethics, or practices of AI photography. 

System 🤖

Operator: World Photography Organisation; Creo
Developer: Boris Eldagsen
Country: Germany; Global
Sector: Media/entertainment/sports/arts
Purpose: Create image
Technology: Text-to-image generator
Issue: Ethics; Mis/disinformation
Transparency: Marketing