There has been a lot of talk about AI recently, especially in the world of photography and imagery. Will AI replace photographers? Absolutely not! It will merely become one of the tools photographers use to make their lives easier and aid their creativity. One major way this can happen is with AI photo editing, which is why today we are creating this Imagen review.
Imagen is an AI-powered post-production suite that integrates with your workflow using Adobe Lightroom Classic. It will cull and color-correct your images using AI, as well as applying cropping, straightening, and subject masks. Furthermore, Imagen’s latest major update now offers cloud backup that seamlessly and automatically handles your project backups in the background.
Imagen states that their post-production process can help cut down on your workflow time by up to 96%! So, let’s dive into this review and see what the app is all about. What is it capable of? Which types of photographers should consider it? We’ll answer these questions and more…
Imagen Review | Technology & Features
First, how does it work? Imagen starts as an app on your desktop. (It’s available for both Mac and PC) The app simply looks through a catalog (Lightroom LRCAT) of your photos and trains itself to process photos exactly how you like them. This trains the AI and creates a profile (you can create more than one, too!) …then you simply use that AI profile to edit any other photos you wish.
Imagen continues to learn from your current edits as you go along, too. From within the Imagen interface, you can update your profile at any time by selecting it and looking for the menu options “Adjust AI Profile” …as well as “Fine-tuning History”. The AI will keep improving so that it can save you more and more time in the long run.
The AI profile creation and the editing of subsequent Lightroom catalogs take place on Imagen’s servers, to which you upload your LRCAT files. Note, however, that you’re not actually uploading your raw files, just the LRCAT file and its Smart Previews; this makes the upload (and download) process very fast.
I found that with my home internet, which was about 10 Megabits upload speed, it took just a few hours, and at our studio, with 60+ Megabit upload speeds, the 3,000+ image training catalog uploaded in under one hour!
You can also use Imagen Cloud to back up either original raw images, or images in a compressed full-resolution format. If you’d like to save space (and upload time) yet still have a cloud backup of your active workflow images and catalog, this option can save approximately 75% of the filesize of your original raw photos, by using lossy raw compression and not reducing the actual resolution.
Imagen’s actual editing speed is about 1/2 second per photo, so it won’t really matter how many hundred or thousand photos you want to edit each week; the AI can handle any workload.
What you want to know about Imagen, of course, is this: does the AI work? Yes, it absolutely does! We’ve used Imagen’s AI at our studio for literally tens of thousands of photos, (weddings of all cultures, and virtually every type of portrait session) …and it has saved literally hundreds of hours of tedious work. Our photography team is much more free to focus on capturing more photos and exploring new creative possibilities! We’ll dive a little deeper into the actual advantages and disadvantages of Imagen shortly.
Lite Personal AI Profile
Of course, while many professional photographers have already color-corrected thousands of their own photos, plenty more have not. In order to remove this potentially daunting barrier to getting started quickly, Imagen has an excellent alternative: a Lite Personal AI Profile.
To create a “Lite” profile, there are two very simple options: you can save a preset of a photo that you’ve already edited to your liking, or use any existing preset that suits your style! Load that preset into Imagen, and it will ask you a few questions about your overall editing preferences/style, and then generate a profile for you.
This is a perfect way to get started because, of course, you can immediately turn around and apply that profile to all of your current images, keep working with it until you get to 3,000, and then turn around and put that catalog back into Imagen for a full analysis.
Although our studio already had literally tens of thousands of images to work with, I think the Imagen Lite Personal AI Profile is a genius idea to get new photographers up and running almost immediately.
Imagen Talent AI Profiles
If you’re looking to dive into expanding your creative style even sooner, Imagen also puts the talent of multiple acclaimed professional photographers at your fingertips. This is possible using Imagen Talent AI Profiles. Simply put, the folks at Imagen have partnered with some very talented photographers who have lots of experience developing a unique editing style, and made those AI profiles available to you. This essentially means that you have immediate access to a profile that has already been through the 3,000+ image training process, and most likely a significant number of Final Edits changes, too.
Plus, once again, Imagen’s AI training system will allow you to fine-tune the profile to your taste, as soon as you get to 3,000 of your own edits, and/or using the “UPLOAD FINAL EDITS” tool.
Of course, the color-correction process actually comes second in a professional photographer’s workflow. The first step is to cull (sort) the keepers from the rejects. Imagen’s AI can now aid this process, too! It can kick out the blurry photos and blinking faces, keeping only the “optimal” smiles from each different pose you capture. It can even use its AI to pick the better composition of two similar photos, too.
Imagen’s Additional Tools
Aside from the main tasks of culling, editing, and workflow cloud backup, there are a few more technical details that we should cover. Imagen’s editing capabilities include some pretty advanced stuff, namely Subject Mask, Crop, and Straighten.
These tools do exactly what they imply, of course. The crop & straighten tool is uncanny, it is just very good at leveling photos with even the slightest off-kilter horizon or other lines that ought to be horizontal or vertical.
The Subject Mask tool will automatically find the subject in the photo and apply a mask using brushes. While this may sound like a built-in Lightroom feature now, Imagen actually applies a local edit to that mask as needed.
Simply put, not having to worry very much about these two previously time-consuming tasks is one of the biggest time-savers, indeed.
Latest Imagen Feature: Imagen Cloud:
As I mentioned earlier, Imagen has also begun offering a cloud backup service that works seamlessly with your workflow. After all, you’re uploading your catalog to the cloud, so why not turn that into a backup solution?
The obvious benefits are clear: Your images get backed up from the moment you commence your workflow! You can choose to either back up optimized versions of your raw files or back up full-res raws. (The former gives a saving of ~75% on file size while maintaining full resolution.)
Note that Imagen cloud backup does come at an additional cost. 1TB of space has been free during its beta phase, and after that, pricing is listed at $3/month for 500GB, (about 50K optimized photos) or $10/month for 2TB. (About 200K optimized photos). Beyond that, Imagen will customize a package for you.
Also note that privacy and GDPR compliance are upheld; of all the photos you upload, photos are only “looked at” (by the AI alone) to create Personal AI Profiles or perform subsequent edits..
Imagen Review | Who Is It For?
Whatever kind of photography you do, the more photos you have to edit, the more you should consider an AI solution such as Imagen. We’d call it a must-have option for wedding or event photographers who need to color-correct literally thousands of photos per month. Also, for any portrait photographers who work full-time and create even a few hundred (or “just” one or two thousand) photos per month, there is also a good value.
Theoretically, any type of photographer could also benefit from Imagen; we tested it on our landscape & travel photography as well and the results were gorgeous! However, if you’re only ever color-correcting a very small number of photos per month, you will have to weigh the value of time saved against Imagen’s $7/month minimum account balance, which works out to about 140 images per month. It is worth noting though that if you didn’t meet the minimum quota, those $7 will be translated into editing credits that will roll over until your next project is ready to be processed.
Considering their variety of pricing options, it is safe to say that it almost doesn’t matter whether you are a paid professional or just a hobbyist; either way, you will have to spend many hours editing your photos if there are thousands of them; and your time is valuable no matter what!
Imagen Review | Pros & Cons
If you work efficiently during the simple process of importing and uploading your photos, and then just let it do its thing, then Imagen should effectively allow for speeds of editing as many as 1,500 photos in under 10 minutes. The quality of the edits is excellent, and the savings in both time and stress are undeniable for any photographer who has ever felt buried under a mountain of post-production.
Having said that, there are a few key advantages that ought to be mentioned, as well as some disadvantages.
The biggest advantage is, of course, the immense amount of time saved. However, considering that there are now more and more AI photo editing solutions available, we have to ask a more important question: What gives Imagen an actual advantage over its competitors?
Simply put: the level of dynamic control over your work, combined with the actual quality of the work the AI does, is one of the best choices on the market. On the one hand, if you have 3K+ photos to feed into the training program, you can expect your “automated AI assistant” to be up and running in half a day, providing incredibly accurate results to your own historic style.
Then, as you progress, the ability to feed your adjustments back into the AI and continue training it is another huge advantage. Imagen will effectively save you a lot of time right away, and then only get even better with time!
On the other hand, if you’re starting from scratch, Imagen offers one of the best varieties of options for getting up and running without having to color-correct thousands of photos first. Whether you start with your own single edit and create a Lite Personal AI Profile, or you start with one of their Talent AI profiles, the gap between having virtually zero work already done and being able to deliver professional results to clients has never been smaller.
All throughout the process, photographers maintain control of their creative style and technical preferences, too. The seamless back-and-forth aspect of the process is intuitive and fast.
As far as drawbacks are concerned, at first you might have thought it would be problematic to upload every photo to the internet. This is simply not a problem, however, because you only have to upload the LRCAT file. Even with thousands of Smart Previews in a catalog, the upload times are very manageable even with modest internet upload speeds.
Furthermore, Imagen’s Cloud backup service turns this potential disadvantage into a major advantage! As I mentioned, you can either backup your original raw files, or you can use the compressed raw option and save ~75% on space without sacrificing actual resolution.
Last but not least, it is important to note that today’s AI-based tools are very power-hungry. For example, the latest subject masking features in Lightroom are no exception. So, to have all this work performed by Imagen actually frees up your computer to do other things, instead of being bogged down for hours if you had done all your own editing.
In short, the fact that Imagen functions via the internet constitutes a major advantage, in multiple ways, versus other cloud-based backup solutions. Especially when it comes to backing up your workflow on the cloud; Imagen makes most alternatives feel downright clunky and outdated if they involve either backing up low-res JPG images or full-res uncompressed raw images.
The only other concern that photographers may have is related to the value, specifically, the cost. With a per-image pricing structure, you must monitor your workflow volume. If you’re editing too many more than, say, 1,000 images per month, it will become preferable to switch to a flat-rate plan, the pricing of which is custom-tailored to your workflow volume and other needs.
Imagen AI Review | Conclusion
We can honestly say that Imagen has saved our studio innumerable hours in post-production. The results speak for themselves, and the system works smoothly from start to finish. All in all, it’s a business expense that pays for itself almost immediately, both financially and in terms of reduced stress and increased peace of mind.
Therefore, we highly recommend checking out Imagen; you have nothing to lose considering that they offer 1,000 edits for free! (See below…)
Imagen Pricing & Availability
You can get started by training an AI profile and editing up to 1,000 images for free, just by downloading and installing the Imagen app. You can also try out the Talent AI profiles or use their new Lite Personal AI Profile.
For those who are ready to dive in and use Imagen more, pricing options start with a per-image price of 5 cents per photo. (NOTE: culling is unlimited during its beta phase.)
The additional AI tools for crop, straighten, and Subject Masking can be added for 1 cent each. Therefore, if you edit approximately 1,000 images per month, and apply just a few additional tools here and there, you could expect to pay between $50 and $75 per month as per their pricing calculator.
There is also a minimum monthly fee of $7/mo, which comes out to about 140 images per month, without any additional tools used. Again, if you go a month without needing to edit 140 images, that balance will roll over to the next month!
You can install Imagen on as many computers as you want, and even upload/download catalogs from multiple computers at once.
Beyond the first 1,000 free edits and the $7/mo plan, Imagen encourages you to consider one of their fixed annual/monthly pricing options: “Annual Commitment” offers 18K/36K/72K photos per year, and “Enterprise” offers a personalized plan with 500K+ photos per year, and a dedicated account manager.