Over the last few years, Computer Generated Imagery (CGI) has really developed, and is now being used in more elements of business than ever before.

But what does this mean for the more traditional photography industry?

In truth, CGI has been making inroads into the more traditional, commercial photography industry for the last couple of years. CGI allows for the creation of an image without having to take a single photograph. The image can be as complex or as simple as the business requires it to be. Ikea have led the way, in a commercial sense, as all of the product images that feature online and within the catalogue were created on the computer using CGI.

With anything new, businesses like to dip their toe in the water before deciding what to do with elements of their marketing. This is why product images are very popular amongst new CGI adopters. However, it is these product images that make up the conventional photography ‘bread and butter’. Now that they are losing their ‘bread and butter’ some photography studios are in real danger of shutting and never opening again.

If change is embraced, and CGI is invested in, then the studios can go from strength to strength. However, the investment in CGI software and training is an expensive one and there is no guarantee that a CGI image will ever be as realistic as using traditional photography.


(Image by Thor, via Flickr)

The initial setup cost of CGI could actually cost more to the client initially. This is because it takes longer to set up to produce a studio product shot. The real savings come a little later as more images are created. The more images the bigger the potential savings.

The easiest way to think about how CGI could save you money is to think logically. If you had a physical product that needed to be photographed you would have to consider:

–          Number of products to be located and shipped

–          Time spent in the studio

–          Retouching and any other expenses

With traditional photography there are certain elements that the studio have limited control over. For example, shadows falling or lack of full depth focus. With CGI, none of these examples are a problem. There are no reshoots for CGI, compared to traditional photography, as the only cost is the replacement of the elements within the CGI scene and the CGI rendering.

All the above really points to the extermination of photographers. However, this will never happen, especially for individuals and within certain industries. For example, the food and fashion industry really are not ready for CGI, they require a human element both behind the camera and in-front of it.

So, who wins in this battle between CGI and Photography?

There is no winner, or they are both winners. Whilst CGI has taken some work away from more traditional photographers, we are living in a world where they can work better together than against each other. For business owners it is very much about getting the right mix for your audience.