Photographer Disqualified From AI Image Contest After Winning With Real Photo


In an unexpected twist, photographer Miles Astray was disqualified from a photo competition after his authentic yet surreal photograph won in the AI image category. His entry, a stunning image of a flamingo, not only secured third place but also clinched the People’s Vote Award in the 1839 Color Photography Awards.

Background of the Contest

The 1839 Color Photography Awards is a prestigious competition known for celebrating the diverse art of photography. Among its numerous categories, the AI category stands out as it uniquely welcomes creations generated through artificial intelligence, unlike the traditional camera-based categories such as “Architecture,” “Still Life,” and “Film/Analog.”

Miles Astray’s Entry

Astray’s entry, an ethereal photograph of a flamingo, captivated the judges and the public alike. The surreal quality of the image led it to secure third place in the AI category and win the People’s Vote Award. Astray’s intention behind submitting the photo was to challenge the rising trend of AI-generated images winning over traditional photographs.

Reason for Disqualification

Despite the initial accolades, the contest organizers disqualified Astray’s entry. In an email to PetaPixel, they expressed appreciation for his message but emphasized the need for fairness. A spokesperson stated, “Our contest categories are specifically defined to ensure fairness and clarity for all participants. Each category has distinct criteria that entrants’ images must meet. His submission did not meet the requirements for the AI-generated image category. We understand that was the point, but we don’t want to prevent other artists from their shot at winning in the AI category.”

Implications of AI in Photography

The rise of AI-generated imagery has significantly impacted the photography world. Over the past few years, AI technology has advanced rapidly, producing images that often surpass traditional photos in contests. This trend poses challenges for photographers who rely on traditional methods, as AI-generated works frequently win accolades meant for human creativity.

Public and Media Reaction

The disqualification sparked a wave of reactions. Many in the photography community voiced support for Astray, praising his bold statement. The general public showed mixed reactions, with some appreciating the message about the value of human creativity and others questioning the fairness of his approach. Media coverage highlighted the ongoing debate about the role of AI in creative fields.

Miles Astray’s Motivation

Astray’s motivation stemmed from a desire to highlight the ongoing struggle between human creativity and machine-generated art. “I wanted to show that nature can still beat the machine and that there is still merit in real work from real creatives,” Astray explained. His experiment was aimed at turning the narrative around and sparking a conversation about the implications of AI in photography.


The Future of Photography Contests

This incident may prompt changes in how photography contests are structured. Organizers might need to revisit category definitions and criteria to ensure a fair competition for all participants, balancing the inclusion of AI-generated works while preserving the essence of traditional photography.


Miles Astray’s bold move to submit a real photo in an AI category has shed light on the ongoing debate between traditional and AI-generated art. While his disqualification underscores the importance of category-specific rules, it also emphasizes the need to appreciate and preserve the value of human creativity in photography.


  1. Why was Miles Astray’s photo disqualified? Miles Astray’s photo was disqualified because it did not meet the criteria for the AI-generated image category, which requires entries to be created using artificial intelligence.
  2. What is the 1839 Color Photography Awards? The 1839 Color Photography Awards is a prestigious photography contest featuring various categories that celebrate different aspects of photography, including a unique AI category.