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So I went to see my grandparents during Easter to help them tidy up the garage. As it happens, we found a shoebox full of old photos, which made for an entertaining trip down memory lane 😉
A large document of the punk life in Manchester, UK, in the 1980s…
This is how the story of this series of images could be told. In reality, I created the Manchester Punks series with Midjourney AI v5. I experiment a lot with Artificial Intelligence and create many different images with different styles. But as a photographer, I’m intrigued to see where I can push this technology to recreate images that can look like real photos.
Not to pretend they are actual photos but to learn more about this technology and understand if it can be used in my work. There is a lot of debate around AI, and a lot of the discussions are on the pessimistic side. But my approach is to always be curious.
A couple days ago, we all saw the news that the winner of the Sony Photo Award had actually used AI to generate the winning ‘photo’. You probably read a lot about that already, so I won’t digress here. But that photo has inspired this series in that it made me want to explore the creation of images from the past.
Manchester Punks 1980
I spent my early teenage years in the Eighties. So, of course, Punk and Goth were all around me. And I grew up embracing the style and culture myself. I chose Manchester as the set for the images, rather than London, because this is where one of my favourite bands of the time came from. Based on my experience, this city also looks bleaker than London (which is reflected in said band’s music), which I think adds to the overall look and feel.
On my new Instagram feed @fabienb.ai, I published 9 of the images I created for the series. There are more, and some in different size ratios are also displayed here. Overall I think that Midjourney did a decent job, both with the photographic rendition and the depiction of the Manchester punks scene of the 80s.
If anything, I think the ‘subjects’ are a tad too clean. They lack tattoos, ripped clothes, pins, etc. All you may associate with old-school punk. But overall, I think the essence is there.
So, here starts the new photo series! And ‘Grace’ is my first subject:
I also added images of the older generation. You can think of those as a then/now kind of image. Though I’m sure a few of the older people did enjoy being punks in the Eighties, haha.
This is the prompt that I used, switching between male/female/old:
a punk with tartan plaid trousers and metallic sequinned jacket in front of a 1980s suburban terraced house with a parking in Manchester UK
Midjourney v6 update (Dec 2023)
Of course, I had to try and generate more images for this collection with the new release of Midjourney, version 6, that I introduced in this post… There, I say that the new version is a mindblowing revolution. I mean, just look at the results: