Navigating the Future of Photography: Imagenation Summit part II recap

By Susan Stripling

The vibrant photography industry thrives on its dynamic community, and the recent Imagenation Summit’s second installment vividly illustrated this. Numerous voices converged to explore industry innovation and future strategies, resulting in a remarkable afternoon of spirited discussions. If you couldn’t make it, here’s a recap of the highlights you might have missed

Cloud Backup and Lite Personal AI Profle are here

First, we heard from the team at Imagen itself in the form of Shahar Polak, Head of Engineering, and Zoe Goldsmith, Head of Partnerships and Brand, as they talked about what’s next for Imagen. A few of the newest features were covered, including Cloud Backup and Lite Personal AI Profile. I especially loved hearing more about the cloud-based backups, primarily since I’m a photographer who travels a lot for commissions, and it will be such a helpful thing for me! They also discussed that skin smoothing, a new Additional AI Tool feature, is coming soon. It’s something I know a lot of wedding and portrait photographers will be really, really excited to work with. Everything Imagen has unveiled has helped my workflow tremendously, and I’m looking forward to this!

Next was a panel discussion entitled The Photographer’s Roadmap to the Future. We were joined for this panel by the extraordinary Victor Ha, VP at Fujifilm, HoneyBook’s Natalie Franke, Adobe Senior Cloud Decives Manager Charlie Anderson, and Lior Sassy from Lightricks.

In a rapidly evolving landscape, staying ahead is not just an option – it is a necessity. Our panel illuminated the multifaceted ways technology is reshaping photography, offering their insights on its immediate impact and outlining a vital plan of action for photographers to remain informed and relevant.

Each panelist contributed by sharing their company’s unique viewpoint, delving into the specific strategies they employed to remain significant in the industry. They emphasized actionable insights from their perspectives and product strategies that photographers could immediately implement to ensure they stayed ahead of the game.

Discussions encompassed various critical parameters: the impact of emerging technologies like AI and VR on the photographer’s workflow and creative process, the evolution of artistic trends, styles, and mediums, and anticipated changes in photographer-client relationships in an increasingly digital and globalized world.

Additional topics included evolving business models, marketing strategies, and revenue streams, as well as the balance between artistic integrity and commercial viability. The panel also addressed the crucial issues of sustainability and ethics, exploring ways photographers could contribute to a more sustainable and ethically conscious industry by addressing environmental impact, inclusivity, diversity, and social responsibility in their work and professional practices.

I was especially intrigued to hear specific panelists answer questions specific to them and their companies.  For example, Natalie and Charlie spoke passionately about the importance of nurturing community within our industry and how vital that is.  “As an adult, it is hard to make friends”, Natalie said.  “I’d encourage everyone to remember that other photographers aren’t your competition; they’re your colleagues…there are communities all around you, but are you going to show up and participate actively in them?  Your inner circle will determine your trajectory.  Find places where you can truly be yourself, and you can truly belong.”  Charlie echoed Natalie’s sentiments, adding that finding a community, even in Facebook groups, helps you become a better person and a better professional (or hobbyist), and you realize that not everyone knows everything; you can learn from them just as they can learn from you.

Victor and Charlie discussed the balance of creativity and innovation and how photographers can stay excited (and not overwhelmed!) by the new tools we have access to.  Lior talked about how photographers can strike a careful balance between using technology for creative enhancements and preserving the authenticity of their work.  “When we started using AI, it was something we were afraid of…I think as we get more curious, we come to a realization that AI is just another tool.  The balance is in basically still carving your own niche and carving your own style…the combination between AI and human creation can be amazing”, Lior added.

It was a truly interesting discussion, not just to hear what each panelist had to say about their own individual companies but what they deeply felt about our shared industry. Stay curious, Natalie told us, and I feel like that phrase encapsulated the overall tone of the balance between technology and artistry that the panel was so focused on.

Keeping Humanity in the Picture

After that were two excellent QuickFire talks. The speakers showcased the strategies they employ to distinguish themselves in the current landscape, shared their future visions, and discussed how they plan to maintain their unique positions amidst the rapid advancement of technology.

First was Anissa D, a wedding photographer. Anissa creates, in her own words, visual poetry for romantic visionaries. This passion was evident in her discussion about how to willingly embrace all that technology offers us these days while keeping a beautiful common thread in her evocative, gorgeous wedding work. When it comes to these trends, Anissa says, “I always want to try it out myself because you don’t really know something until you take it into your own hands and try it. Not every trend is one I end up following, but I like to give it my best effort and see if this is in line with my brand and authentic to my business”. I couldn’t agree more!

Next, we heard from Nicole Ashley, a photographer for “kind & free-spirited souls who love fearlessly & embrace all that life has to offer.” Nicole talked about some of her top tips for photographers, starting with lighting. She offered advice to help new and seasoned photographers elevate their lighting game, from great available light to investing in proper additional lighting tools to help her storytelling through images. She also discussed the importance of being a lighting and posing director, not just a passive participant on the day. She also talked about how lighting has helped her retouching game as well! I especially loved her words on white balance and warmth!

Both of these QuickFire talks, like the panel before, were really illuminating when it comes to understanding what those in our industry feel about advancing technology, especially AI. There is such a passion for these new tools and a deep love for the craft of photography, a love that I see shared with the Imagen team as they develop new advances to help our workflows even further.

I can’t wait for the next summit – these inspire me, invigorate me, and make me excited for the future of our incredible industry.

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susan striplingSusan Stripling has been photographing weddings, portraits, and theater for over twenty years. She has been named one of the top ten wedding photographers in the world by American Photo Magazine.

She is most honored to be named an Explorer of Light by Canon USA. In her spare time, besides spending time with her incredible family, Susan is a voracious reader, lover of all horror movies, and inexplicably sleeps with the lights on.

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