Adobe’s AI innovations have been the biggest story this year when it comes to photo-editing, but the software giant doesn’t seem to be pleasing everyone – indeed, it’s recently found itself in the doghouse with the Ansel Adams estate.

The representatives of the hugely influential landscape photographer Ansel Adams (1902-1984) took issue with images on the Adobe Stock image library, which used AI to generate pictures in the style of the great man (think dramatic black and white, with moody looking skies).

The images in question had the rather unwieldy title ‘Nature’s Symphony: Ansel Adams-Style Landscape Photography – AI generated’ and were uploaded by an Adobe Stock contributor called frefre.

Ansel Adams AI row
The Ansel Adams estate was not happy at all with these images, generated by AI in the style of the great man

Via Threads – ‘a new app, built by the Instagram team, for sharing text updates and joining public conversations’ – the Adams estate lambasted Adobe, warning ‘you are officially on our last nerve with this behavior.’

Adobe later responded after removing frefe’s images: ‘Thank you for flagging as this goes against our Generative AI content policy. We’re glad our team was able to remove the content.’

The estate, however, was not done, coming straight back at Adobe. ‘Thanks @adobe, but we’ve been in touch directly multiple times beginning in Aug 2023.

Assuming you want to be taken seriously re: your purported commitment to ethical, responsible AI, while demonstrating respect for the creative community, we invite you to become proactive about complaints like ours, & to stop putting the onus on individual artists/artists’ estates to continuously police our IP on your platform, on your terms. It’s past time to stop wasting resources that don’t belong to you.’

More AI headaches to come?

Adobe is clear that the offending images violated its Generative AI content policy, which strongly discourages text prompts and keywords containing the names of photographers and other artists still under copyright, as well as using ‘in the style of’ language. Still, the story is another reminder that we are entering a new age of wrangling and legal complexity when it comes to AI-generated images.

Adobe Photoshop CC 2024 AI generative fill
Generative Fill, shown here in use via Photoshop, can open a can of worms when it comes to generating ‘in the style of’ imagery

Questions also remain why the Adobe Stock team approved the images in the first place if it violated the company’s policy, especially as said team had been alerted by the Ansel Adams estate on previous occasions.

Adobe is giving a lot of PR bandwidth to its attempts to ensure its AI tools are used in an ethical way, and images are clearly identified as being AI-generated in the first place.

As reported by Artnet.

Further reading
The best AI-powered tools for photo editing
Finally Lightroom cures this BIG photo-editing headache
Adobe interview: ‘we are not trying to trick anyone with AI’