While browsing Facebook, I came across an offer for 20 free images from one of several companies now offering AI-assisted background enhancements for product photography. I’m a sucker for AI, so I couldn’t resist. I moseyed over to the website and happily signed up for an account, and was immediately granted access to the technology. I wasn’t sure what to expect or where to start, so I picked an un-retouched photo from a shoot of my packaging options.
As I suspected, the offer of 20 free photos really means 20 free renders. Each time you click “Generate,” you get four renders. So even if you were stingy with your renders, at most you’d get to try it on five images. Hey, it’s a free trial. I’m not complaining.
I started with the “Surprise Me” template, since I didn’t have any particular destination in mind. I uploaded my photo, and let the AI do its work.
The first thing I noticed was how effectively it appeared to remove the background from the image. Then it seemed to “think” about the image for a moment before presenting me with four renders. I admit, I was taken aback by how good they appeared. Curious to see what else I might get, I pressed “Generate” again. Here are those first eight renders.
Once I took a closer look, I began to find minor problems. For starters, there was no lighting correction to the original. For some of the renders, this is hardly noticeable, but in a sunny beach scene, it’s jarring. The narrow strings on the bag are rendered strangely and in one image, a little phantom baby bag appears. And then, there’s the wall ornament.
This is evidently set in an elegant corner somewhere, A slab of marble appears to float above some sort of natural surface, while a rustic wall ornament looks on from above.
Despite the typical AI oddities, these are some very decent renders. I did nothing to make the AI’s job easy, providing an underexposed image and leaving all to chance. As with other AI art generators, you can get very specific about what results you’d like to see. I didn’t do that this time around.
A True Test
I was curious to see what the AI would do with a piece of jewelry. I used this image of my Love to Ukraine earrings. The background is a little dark but the earrings are properly exposed and the color is true.
Three of the resulting renders show the earrings appearing to stand on end in among various configurations of white backgrounds. A fourth is an almost-charming wintry image, with the earrings appearing encased in a thin sheet of ice.
Are We Overthinking This?
I wasn’t surprised that the AI didn’t quite know what to do with a pair of floating earrings. I decided to give it a little help. Since it seems to like stacking things on top of other things, I gave it this image of the earrings resting on a rock. And that’s when things got super weird.
As before, the AI efficiently removed the background—including the rock! It left only the earrings in repose. And then it did this.
By this point, it was becoming apparent that I wouldn’t be turning my product photography over to AI any time soon. But I hadn’t given it a fair test. With only four credits remaining, I decided to see what the AI could do with better input. For my template I chose “In the Forest,” which was recommended as being “perfect for jewelry.” Based on sample images, I decided to try again with the reclining earrings.
Out of 20 renders, there’s only one I would seriously consider using. By comparison, I shoot dozens of photos just to get the few that end up on the website. There’s the time it takes to set up my props, adjust my lighting, find the right camera angles, and so on. It took only a few minutes and very little work to create a nicely balanced, well-lighted image that looks like something I would happily display on the website.
Will I hand over my product styling to AI? I must admit, I’m surprised to find myself considering it. I’ve got a beachy-themed shoot coming up this summer and barring a miracle vacation, I’ll be searching for ways to create an ocean vibe without being anywhere near the sea.
If my next collection launches with images of sun-washed shores, you’ll know!
This post was written entirely by a human. Hi!
The title was suggested by Chat GPT. Thanks, pal.