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What’s The Deal with the Firefly AI Ads, Adobe?

Listen I understand that AI is here to stay, but what gives with these new ads highlighting the AI capabilities of Adobe Firefly?

I have spent decades using Adobe products, and if I had to hazard a guess as to how much I have paid for stand-alone software and subscriptions in the twenty plus years I have been a professional photographer that number would be in the $10,000 area. And there are hundreds of thousands of photographers who have been paying Adobe to use their products for a long, long time. Why wouldn’t they? Adobe’s suite of software is the benchmark by which all other graphics programs are measured.

Do I like the products? Yes! Which is why I have been happily paying for them. You can probably understand why I felt really offended when ads like these started popping up in my social media feeds

skip the photo shoot adobe firefly artificial intelligence ai ad


Really, Adobe? You’re telling folks to “skip the photoshoot?” This isn’t about not using AI to enhance images, because that is here to stay and has already been a part of your image editing workflow for a while now, they’re just calling it AI now.

No! This is about word choice. They could have chosen copy that reads “Enhance your photoshoot” or “Get more from your photoshoot” instead of “SKIP THE PHOTOSHOOT”

And, before you talk to me about character count, look at all of that blank space on the last line.

This choice of words is not aimed at photographers, even though we are the ones who are getting bombarded with the ads most likely because of who we are following and the posts we react to – you know, algorithms and all. The use of ‘skip the photoshoot’ implies that the reader is NOT a photographer and will be saving money since they won’t be paying a photographer.

Disingenuous Advertising

Acting like the every day user is going to save money by using Adobe Firefly toolss is a bit of a bait and switch. Of course Adobe is trying to tap into another market that does not currently use their product. However, they make it seem like this is a ‘free’ tool to use however Adobe Firefly requires a premium subscription to accomplish many of the tasks that are featured in the ads.

Also, learning to use AI to get the desired results can be an entirely different skill set in and of itself. While it certainly does not require the hundreds of hours an experienced graphics professional has put into learning image editing software, writing prompts that achieve the goals shown in the ads takes time as well. New users may be frustrated that they won’t get photo realistic edits from the start.

Partnering with Influencers Instead of Photographers

I have also noticed a large number of ‘paid partnership’ videos on social media platforms of influencers with no other image editing posts to their name talking about how they ‘salvaged’ the photos their photographer gave them by using Adobe’s AI tools. Check out this video from an influencer talking about editing his wedding photos:


My wedding photos just got a major upgrade using @adobe Firefly’s Generative Fill feature #adobepartner #ai #artificialintelligence #adobe #wedding #weddingphotos #bride

♬ original sound – Kallaway
All I can say is…well…just wow. Seriously. WOW.

First off, does he really think that photo of his wife is terrible?

Second, does he have the photographer’s permission to use those photos commercially? I’m serious. This is a paid partnership so unless the photographer included commercial use in the contract, that is opening up a huge can of worms. I also seriously doubt the photographer gave that approval because he also says that he’s “pretty sure we own the rights to pictures of us” – so we can be absolutely clear he doesn’t understand copyright or intellectual property law.

Are People Unintentionally Giving Away Their Intellectual Property?

Which brings me to another aspect of this whole artificial intelligence debate. When Adobe got into the generative AI game with Firefly, they very pointedly focused that this would be ‘ethical AI’ and that all sourcing would come from licensed images or the public domain.

However, in researching this article, I have found that recent updates to many Adobe products now have an automatic ‘opt-in’ that allows Adobe to ‘analyze’ your content if you use a product that includes AI features, which is most of the Creative Cloud suite. Yes, they are even analyzing your PDFs via Adobe Acrobat unless you opt out. What does ‘analyzing’ mean? It’s not entirely clear.

To opt out, you will need to log in to your Adobe online account and go to your privacy settings and turn off content analysis.

As I said, the verbiage is pretty vague, if you ask me. I get that AI is a tool that we all need to learn to use and adapt with because it is the way that technology is going. However, there is something to be said for clarity and transparency especially when it comes to inadvertently signing over your intellectual property.

Is this a sign of things to come?

Does Adobe see some writing on the wall that photographers and other graphics professionals are blind to? Do they see a lot of people leaving or being pushed out of those industries and they are reaching out directly to consumers to try and shore up their market share?

AI image editing is here to stay but could they have found a way to be more inclusive or at least not bad mouth the photographers who took the images they are using for promotion?

Time will tell. Hopefully there will still be a place for photographers and image creators in our artificial future.

Let me know what you think about all this in the comment section or reach out on Instagram or Threads. And while you are here, be sure to subscribe to The Nerdy Photographer Podcast where we tackle subjects like this all the time!

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The Nerdy Photographer

With more than a quarter century as a professional photographer, The Nerdy Photographer's goal is to spread knowledge and laughter throughout the photo industry. Please follow along on social media and subscribe to the podcast.

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