“This Person Does Not Exist” – Future of Model-Released Content?

About a year ago I wrote a blog post entitled, “Are Artificial Intelligence Generated Faces the Future of Stock Photography?” I would like to follow-up on this trending theme with some new updates.

Practical considerations for stock

The scope for using “fake” computer-generated AI models is immense in the field of stock photography, as discussed in my previous post:

“Imagine instead of spending time and a small fortune hiring professional models (or at the very least asking friends/family), in a few years time, we may be able to create a multitude of different avatars featuring people of all ages, sexes, ethnicity, etc. These characters could be modified to include different expressions to fit into a multitude of different scenarios, such as a stressful corporate meeting. Think of it like the Sims but much more sophisticated.”

Stock Photography Sims – coming soon with more realistic results. Source: https://www.ea.com/games/the-sims

This is getting creepily accurate

As always with new technology, the early days are filled with bugs. In addition, the use of Computer Generated Images (CGI) at a high level is nothing new, just look at Avatar from some years ago.

However, we have got to a point when it’s becoming increasingly difficult for a layperson to distinguish between a computer-generated face and one that is real with any degree of accuracy (with the occasional glitch). See for yourself the results below with some examples.

Not 100% Computer-Generated

It’s not 100% computer-generated since it mixes and morphs existing images pulled from 70,000 pictures of actual human faces pulled from Flickr. Not news on whether these people consented. Here’s an explanatory video:


Using new advances in AI developed by researchers at NVIDIA, software engineer Phillip Wang created the cleverly-worded website: thispersondoesnotexist.com.

See for yourself that each time you refresh the site, the network will generate a new AI-generated facial image.

Source: Thispersondoesnotexist.com

Future of Stock Photography

The practical applications for films, games is immense…but so is for stock photography, where future lifestyle photographers may spend even more time at home coding/programming rather than actually shooting & coordinating with models.

In this fast-changing employment landscape, even the unstable job of a model may be disrupted, along with a multitude of other industries in the next 20 years.


Want some evidence of a fully-digital model? Check out the Instagram account of, Shudu.Gram, the “World’s first digital supermodel” with 157,000 followers.

red carpet

Fraud Factories

My latest adventure into the rabbit-hole that is Shutterstock’s massive copyright infringement problems has left a bitter taste in my mouth. This makes me wonder if the creation, legitimate or not, of whole factories in China, India, Russia, etc to program these types of content and flood/spam stock agencies is likely inevitable. How will agencies deal with this new development?

Nevertheless, the positive implications of this technological are fascinating and something I’m keen to stay right up to date.

About Alex

I’m an eccentric guy on a quest to visit all corners of the world and capture stock images & footage. I’m determined not to waste my life away as a corporate drone and have devoted over six years to making it as a travel photographer and freelance writer. I hope to inspire others before it’s too late.

I’m proud to have written a book about my adventures which includes tips on making it as a stock travel photographer – Brutally Honest Guide to Microstock Photography


  1. This is an amazing technology. The first time I saw this in the song of Michael Jackson (Michael Jackson – Black Or White). Also, this technology is often demonstrated in cyberpunk movies and books. We live in the future! But it is not as gloomy as Philip Dick wrote. It is bright, colorful and interesting. I think that in such a world there will be a lot of space for producers of interesting content. We need to improve our skills.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree. There are massive positive applications!

      I tend to take a dystopian view as I have grown up as a bit cynical/sarcastic. Also like this genre.

      Programmers will have a head-start in this “brave new world”


  2. Alex,

    My own vision of what is going on and where it all leads us to is 99% in line with yours.

    If creation of such a content is not happening already then it is only the question of time. You must have noticed such content is now uploaded to SS and AS (and I guess other ms agencies as well) on a regular basis. Yes, now it is signs, and paper planes, and coconut palms on beach. But tomorrow it WILL be people. And I do mean tomorrow, not like 5 or 10 years or something.

    And who is best positioned to generate such content based on existing databases of human faces? Well, NOT factories in China or Ucrania. No these same ms agencies are! SS / AS / to name only two big players.

    In a very short time SS and AS will not need ‘contributors’ anymore (what a lame way to name half of your clients ‘contributors’ btw). Clients will simply log in and request what they need, and then SS / AS and others will simply generate and deliver it. Full stop. No frigging 25c to any grumpy human robots anymore. With 300 million images in the database, this will be, correction, this is VERY EASY.

    This is the end of stock photography as we know it. Time to move on and hunt elsewhere.

    Liked by 1 person

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