Are AI-Generated Food Pics Better Than Actual Food? Study Says “Yes”


The advent of the AI-generated picture is probably one of the biggest developments in the history of our field.

three assorted cameras near fruits and ceramic figurines
Three assorted cameras near fruits and ceramic figurines. Photo by Brooke Lark

There are a lot of questions about “how” we got here, and we’ve covered some of the prognostications (as well as legal cases) around all of that. But one thing we’ve also covered is how this phenomenon has the potential to displace many of us when photography jobs are already scarce enough.

Well, one recent study doesn’t bode well for any of that but there is one silver lining (we’ll get to that in a bit).

Pictures of AI-generated food are apparently more appealing to people than actual pictures of food. That’s kind of wild when you think about it but not really surprising since AI works in a kind of idealized space. And that’s where our silver lining comes into play. As far as advertising goes, you have to actually deliver on what you show. Best of luck when it comes to some AI-generated pizza slice of heaven or that too-good-to-be-true sandwich. That’s why, outside of a few tricks, photographers tend to work with the actual food consumers will be served.

From the abstract:

“The participants in Study 1 found it very easy to recognize the AI-generated images, particularly in the case of ultra-processed foods. Notably, without disclosure, the AI-generated images were often preferred. At the same time, however, disclosing that a food image was genuine significantly boosted its appeal, whereas the revelation that it had been generated by AI mitigated this effect.”

What’s one takeaway for our corner of the universe? AI is here to stay, and will likely augment rather than wholly supplement the work of photographers in many areas. It’s not surprising that consumers prefer actual food once they realize what they were looking at was fake, but that doesn’t mean they won’t prefer actual food with a little bit of embellishment via AI which is what the study seems to implicitly hint.

Any thoughts you might have on the appeal of AI-generated food pictures are welcome in the comments.

There are some other photography news articles for you to read at this link.

About Author

Kehl is our staff photography news writer since 2017 and has over a decade of experience in online media and publishing and you can get to know him better here and follow him on Insta.

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