Sony World Photography Award-winning photograph turns out to be AI-generated image

Sony World Photography Award-winning photograph turns out to be AI-generated image

Sony World Photography Award winner Boris Eldagsen from Germany has refused to accept his trophy, revealing his prize-winning photo is an AI-generated image.

The picture, a haunting black and white portrait of two women from different generations, which looks similar to a 1940s family portrait, won the award in the open competition for single images.

During the London award ceremony, Eldagsen revealed the image had been created using artificial intelligence and he refused the prize.

“Thank you for selecting my image and making this a historic moment, as it is the first AI-generated image to win in a prestigious international photography competition,” he says.

“AI images and photography should not compete with each other in an award like this. They are different entities. AI is not photography. Therefore I will not accept the award.”

In a statement on his website, Eldagsen explains how AI technology can be used to “co-create”.

“It’s not about pressing a button — and it’s done. It’s about exploring the complexity of this process, starting with refining text prompts, then developing a complex workflow, and mixing various platforms and techniques.”

Eldagsen has suggested his competition prize be donated to a photo festival in Odesa, Ukraine.

Eldagsen said he entered the competition to provoke a debate about artificial intelligence and photography.

“We, the photo world, need an open discussion. A discussion about what we want to consider photography and what not. Is the umbrella of photography large enough to invite AI images to enter — or would this be a mistake?”

Eldagsen has been embracing new opportunities that artificial intelligence brings, specializing in making AI-generated images, and calling for separate competitions to be created.

His series Pseudomnesia consists of a number of images that look like “fake memories of a past that never existed, that no-one photographed”.

“Just as photography replaces painting in the reproduction of reality, AI will replace photography. Don’t be afraid of the future. It will just be more obvious that our minds always create the world that makes it suffer,” he says.

The Sony World Photography Award is yet to issue a statement responding to Eldagsen’s revelations, however it has removed his image from the website and the exhibition in London.

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