* This blog post is a summary of this video.

Is AI the Future of Product Photography? Pros, Cons, and Applications

Author: Brittany + RyanTime: 2023-12-30 08:00:01

Table of Contents

Testing AI Product Image Generators like Flare.ai, Pebbly and Final AI Website

As the world becomes increasingly digitalized, the importance of high quality product fixtures has never been greater. With e-commerce sales skyrocketing, companies must find innovative ways to showcase their products online. Enter artificial intelligence. This game-changing technology promises to revolutionize the way that we approach the digital realm.

In this article, we are going to be testing out three different websites that use artificial intelligence to create product pictures. We’re going to be weighing the pros, the cons and by the end of this article, we’ll have a definitive answer to the question on everyone’s mind – is AI the future of product photography? Let’s dive in.


We’re going to dive right in with the first website, Flare.ai. This website has two components to it – it has a pre-made component and a custom side as well, which means the pre-made side gives you a brief already that is going to generate a picture similar to what it’s showcasing. In the custom side, it allows you to prompt the AI image generator. For these three websites, I am going to use a product that we just finished photographing for a company called Nexus. They wanted us to create a Spanish warm tan bathroom kind of scene and I’m gonna see what that looks like in AI. One issue that I see here for a company is that they need a professional image to base all of this off of. These websites are going to remove the background from this product picture and use the product itself. For instance, if someone has a company and they took an amateur picture of their product on their kitchen counter with that warm kitchen light, it is not going to showcase well in AI when you remove the background. It does not enhance the quality of the original image that you photographed. As you can see here, this particular bottle was photographed professionally under optimal lighting conditions from multiple angles. That's a really good place to start. I'm going to go ahead and open this image in Flare.ai and remove the background. It wants us to tell it what the object is – in this case, it is a bottle. We can also search keywords to find appropriate backgrounds. Let me see if I can find ‘bathroom’...perfect, there's only two options here. The one to the right looks closest to what we want. As you can see, Flare.ai automatically fills in prompts for us at the top. Let’s generate some images and see what we get. Here we have two images. This first one – I don’t even know what’s happening. Oh my god. The second one has an interesting basis but what is going on in the background? It looks like it didn't fully render the picture. But assuming that it rendered this one properly, I would say it’s a cool concept. It looks kind of realistic although the scaling of the object compared to the background doesn’t make sense at all. Let’s try something else to see if we can make this a bit better. Let's try the first bathroom scene again with the bottle on a bathroom counter in front of a luxurious bathroom background. Alright, so we have two new pictures here. Let’s start with this first one. I think this first one is pretty cool, although the sink in the background just doesn’t look quite right and the depth of field is a little off for my taste – everything is in focus when usually with product photos, you have nice bokeh. Also there wasn't a way for us to control the colors that were rendered. As you can see, the first bottle is very gray and muted while the second one introduced some warmer tan tones. And again, we have some pieces here that aren't fully being rendered properly. Not to mention, the shadow on the second bottle is pretty bad. So I’d say in terms of usability, none of these AI-generated images could be used by a company. Let’s go back and try something simpler, just to see if maybe the detailed bathroom prompts are too complex. I think this floral background here looks pretty cool. Let’s see what we can get. These flower images are cute! I like those. Okay, so the bottle definitely pops as the hero of the image, but with just a little bit of Photoshop magic, you could definitely make the highlights and shadows blend into this picture a lot better. I think that’s a really cool concept for showcasing this product – maybe not a bathroom collection but for something more related to fragrance or skincare it would be fitting, especially with spring coming around the corner. This could be a nice unique image for a company’s marketing campaign.


This next website we tested, called Pebbly, was so much of a bust that I decided to just delete it from the video / article. It's not even worth the breath I'm wasting on it now. If you want to know more specifics about Pebbly and how it compared to the other AI image generators, check out our detailed blog.

Final AI Website

The last site we'll analyze is unfortunately not letting me import my own high quality product image – it is restricted to use only the free stock images they have provided in their library. So let’s choose this bottle product here since it falls into the same category and has a white background that can easily be swapped out. I'll describe the ideal scene: "Bottle sitting on tan bathroom counter next to a tan tile wall behind" I will say I'm still not sure how descriptive you need to be with these AI prompts to get usable results. I'm referring strictly to these basic web-based AI tools, not something complex like Midjourney which is a whole topic in itself. Let's generate the image...well that result is not bad at all! In fact, I'd say that's the best one by far that I've seen from any of these sites. It kind of followed the prompt nicely. There's no brush like I mentioned but overall this is definitely a good picture that could work well for a company's ecommerce website, assuming they want clean, consistent imagery. The caveat is, I don't think these AI programs will generate the exact same backdrop every time you upload a product and use the same description. So there still lacks consistency which could be an issue. Let me give you an example. Say this is the first AI-generated shot a company chooses to use on Instagram. And then they need another 'gram featuring the same product but this time in the shower. So let's prompt "Bottle sitting in shower." Well, this second image is not bad either. There is a bit of inconsistency with the wall rendering in this top corner. However the photo could easily be cropped so you don’t see that issue at all. But the bigger problem is – you cannot put these two AI images side by side, with the product sitting in the same position and just the backgrounds changing between shots. That’s not visually interesting or appealing at all. What I can envision is a company using AI like this to create single standalone images for things like: email marketing campaigns, website banners, printed magazine ads, etc. Places where they just need one nice photo of the product itself that emphasizes what they are selling, without worrying about consistency across an entire collection of ecommerce photography.

Evaluating AI-Generated Product Images

Now that we’ve gotten our hands dirty playing around with some real-life examples of AI product photography, let’s take a step back and objectively discuss some of the key pros and cons.

On first glance, you may be laughing at how horrible some of those initial AI attempts turned out. But there is something to be said for what we are already seeing here. Artificial intelligence, especially applied to creative fields like photography, is still an emerging technology in relatively early phases. The fact that current AI tools can generate pictures that are sometimes usable and sort of follow a descriptive text prompt is fairly impressive. Those capabilities – along with the visual quality – are sure to rapidly improve over time as the technology continues advancing at breakneck speed. Think of what might be possible in just a year or two from now. Companies will work tirelessly to perfect and enhance these programs.

But the central question facing professional photographers still remains: will AI truly take over our jobs and replace human creativity & skill?

Pros and Cons of AI Product Photography

Let's analyze some of the core benefits, as well as drawbacks, of integrating AI into product photography.

On the positive side...

  • AI photo generation is currently best suited for smaller companies just starting out that don't have ample budgets to hire a full production studio to handle their imagery. It's an ultra-affordable way to obtain decent product photos.

  • High-end brands may also utilize AI for quick, one-off marketing deliverables like email banners where consistency with other campaign imagery is not vital. This allows them to skip the costs of a dedicated photo shoot on ultra-tight deadlines or budgets.

  • Photographers could even potentially use AI-generated pictures as supplementary portfolio pieces to showcase unique concepts and expand their range of creative offerings. However, this route does require ample skill in fine-tuning AI-generated photos through post-processing before presenting them professionally.

Now for the cons...

  • At this stage, AI photo results are not reliable or consistent enough to power an entire ecommerce brand's website or social channels. You still need a professional photographer's expertise in lighting, angles, propping, etc to build out a full collection of product imagery with visual cohesion.

  • Current AI tools only allow generating backgrounds for one image at a time, whereas brands rely on photographers to create compelling lifestyle scenes that can feature groups of products together and tell a clear visual story.

  • While AI attempts were made to match our initial prompt requesting a warm-toned bathroom setting, the actual photos produced had vastly different color tones, counters, backgrounds etc that shows these programs cannot ensure brand consistency without a lot more development.

  • Photography requires immense technical skill and artistic control over things like lighting angles, depth of field, focal point and more that allow setting a very precise mood and look for imagery. AI randomly generates these crucial elements.

Incorporating AI into Photography Businesses

We just outlined a number of limitations around AI for product photography at its current stage of evolution. But rather than view artificial intelligence as a looming threat, there are also savvy ways professional photographers can start integrating aspects of it into their creative businesses.

As mentioned earlier, using AI renders as a starting point and then combining with your own high quality photos through compositing, retouching and other post-production work can lead to unique portfolio images that demonstrate cutting-edge techniques.

On the client delivery side, offer add-on services like further refining AI-generated images clients provide so they meet required quality, branding and consistency standards before getting published.

We also see huge potential for AI to assist photographers with operational efficiency improvements in areas like metadata tagging, culling, editing workflows and more that free up more time for you to focus on high-value creative work.

Here at ShootProof, we are continually experimenting with AI ourselves to enhance backend processes like search, analytics and order processing automation for our photography platform. The benefits so far have been striking. While staying attuned to any downsides of AI application, my recommendation is to enter this arena with an open, opportunistic mindset.

Conclusion: Is AI the Future of Product Photography?

As we close out this in-depth exploration and analysis around AI-powered product imaging, is artificial intelligence destined to become the new dominant force in this space one day?

My verdict is a resounding 'maybe' – but we still have a very long way to go. While current AI photo generation tools exhibit flashes of promise, they remain unreliable, inconsistent and limited in key areas for brands compared to the polish and control achieved through professional photography.

However, much like the trajectory we witnessed with website builders, logo makers, design templates and more creative platforms over the past decade, I fully expect artificial intelligence to follow a similar path towards becoming far more sophisticated and opening up all sorts of possibilities.

So rather than just waiting around to eventually be displaced by Skynet, my advice is to start actively learning about and experimenting with AI now. Become fluent in understanding both its upside potential and current limitations. Then thoughtfully assess how integrating aspects of artificial intelligence can actually assist you in delivering more impactful creative work rather than just viewing it as a job stealer. The photographers who will continue leading our industry years down the road will be the ones proactively evolving their skills and offerings today to fully harness technology's benefits while retaining the personalized touch and visual storytelling mastery that AI has yet to match.


Q: Can AI fully replace professional photographers?
A: No, AI still lacks the skill and control needed to fully replace professionals. But it may supplement some photography in future.

Q: What are some pros of AI product photography?
A: Lower cost and faster image generation for some uses. Ability to create unique or custom backgrounds.