“It’s a game changer for photographers and their mental health”
Ask any wedding photographer what’s the most tedious and time-consuming task of the their workinand every one of them will give you the same answer. Editing.
Imagen, a startup based in Israel, has harnessed the power of AI to cut down those two days to just 20 minutes.
They’ll typically take 3,000 pictures of the big day, over six or seven hours. But they’ll then spend two full days or more in the whole post-production process.
Every photographer develops their own unique way of editing photos. Software like Lightroom or Photoshop offer an infinite number of ways to make an infinite number of adjustments.
That’s both a blessing and a curse. It means photographers can enhance each image to perfection, but it’s a huge burden on their time.
Imagen learns each photographer’s particular style, and is able to apply it to each of their pictures in a fraction of a second.
“What’s beautiful about Imagen is that the problem is so clear. And the solution is so simple,” says Ron Oren, Chief Marketing Officer. “It basically learns how you edit, then predicts how you will treat any specific image.”
The first task for any wedding photographer is the cull – ditching the pictures where people’s eyes are closed, the blurred shots, the photos that don’t flatter the bride, or it’s simply the less good than other, similar images..
That will leave them with around 1,000 good photos to show the couple. But before they do that – and this is the real long-haul – they have to edit each individual image for color, exposure, white balance, and much more besides.
Imagen was founded after Yoav Chai, now the company’s Chief Technical Officer, ended up waiting three long months for the wedding photos of him and his bride Moran to arrive.
He called the photographer, worried that maybe he’d lost the pictures because it was taking so long.
“To my surprise, everything was okay,” he said. “The photographer was just knee-deep into processing and editing our photos.”
Chai, a hobby photographer with a master’s degree in AI, saw the problem that professionals faced, and immediately saw the solution.
He sat with Nitzan Gur, his wedding photographer, to see just how labor-intensive the whole process was.
He came up with an answer to his problems, as a favor, rather than a product, but soon understood that as a commercial venture it had the potential to transform photographers’ lives.
“That’s when it hit me,” he said. “It’s time to revolutionize the way photographers work and let them focus on the things that really matter and what they love.”
The technology that he started developing back then is now being used by tens of thousands of photographers worldwide.
Most of them specialize in weddings – where they’re likely to take the most pictures for a single commission – but there are also portrait and event photographers, and some in food and real estate.
“We know that Imagen has really been a game changer in terms of photographers and their mental health. People say we’ve helped them with their family, given them back their free time,” says Oren.
Imagen needs 24 hours to analyze a wide-ranging batch of 3,000 photos to understand a photographer’s style, working with Lightroom Classic, an industry-standard piece of software for photo-editing.
It tracks every key press and mouse click the photographer used from the picture as it was shot to the final image and learnt to apply their unique style to every subsequent image.
Photographers can fine-tune the pictures Imagen provides if they want, and it will learn from their tweaks. They can also choose to have their pictures edited in the style of an acclaimed photographer.
The time-saving it offers is literally changing photographers’ lives. Many say so themselves in unsolicited testimonials on the review website Trustpilot.
Here’s one: “Before Imagen, I used to dread editing. One reason was that my editing style was all over the place. With Imagen, I have maintained a consistent style for the past 4 months and I feel so satisfied.
“I feel like keeping Imagen as a secret but it’s not fair, every photographer should know about Imagen. Literally it has changed my life.
And another, from just a few days ago: “I didn’t expect to be finished with my editing before Christmas this year but now I think I will be caught up before the end of the week! SO excited to have my life back!”
Photography has come a long way since its darkroom days. Digital images gave rise to manual editing. Then came presets, which many photographers use today. They apply a standard set of adjustments to an image. It’s a reasonable fix, but serious photographers don’t like losing control over the final result.
AI editing opens a new world of opportunity, streamlining the editing process while preserving their unique personal editing style.
Photographers using Imagen pay five cents per photo, equating to about $50 for the two days they’d otherwise have been sat in front of a screen.
“The Old World is presets, where photographers apply generic parameters on a batch of images,” says Oren. “We do it totally differently. We actually analyze the image itself, then we predict how the photographer would edit that specific image based on their history.
“This prediction, analysis and output all happens in a third of a second. That means a session of 1,000 photos will be cut down to 20 minutes, from starting the editing to finalizing the editing process.”
Imagen, based in Tel Aviv with a staff of 50, is operating as a profitable business, says Oren, and is expanding beyond its main market, the USA, to Europe, Australia and Japan.
The software has already been developed to automatically crop and straighten pictures (for a slight increase in price), and will soon be able to cull as well – automatically rejecting pictures based on its understanding of what the photographer deems to be unacceptable.
Uncaptioned wedding photos above are credited to the photographers and were all edited with Imagen.