Is AI a good alternative for photography?

Sarah Jackson
May 16, 2023

We pitted top UK food photographer David Robson against the AI platform Dall-E to see if the general public would be able to tell the difference between a delicious bowl of real steaming pasta, versus a computer generated image.


So, Can You Tell Which Pasta is Real?




David captured a series of popular dishes from one of Slerp’s customers – the Italian food and drink destination, Eataly London, before the same images were then recreated by AI and shown to 100 members of the public.

Across the 10 different food images shared, over 60% of those asked could not tell if it featured real food or an AI generated image. And on individual food items, nearly three-quarters (73%) could not recognise an AI version of a margherita pizza and two-thirds failed to spot an AI croissant or a bowl of cacio e pepe pasta (66% and 69% respectively).

The AI experiment followed on from a previous piece of Slerp research* that highlighted nearly 50% of customers are more likely to order food when they can see what it looks like. Having put AI to the test, the results demonstrate just how easy it can be for restaurants to recreate their menu dishes using easily accessible digital resources. It is especially efficient, and a good budget hack for those who might frequently change their menus – such as those offering seasonal options.


Nearly three-quarters (73%) could not recognise an AI version of a margherita pizza


JP Then, Founder of Slerp said: “The tools available to all of us now through AI are advancing incredibly fast, and the ways it can be applied to the hospitality sector are very interesting. We know the public generally like seeing food before they order online, so if a restaurant has the time and budget for a professional photo shoot that can truly reflect their menu, then we would always say to go for it.  But this experiment shows that for most people when looking at pictures online, the AI version of the pizza is as appealing as the real thing. So, for those brands and companies constrained by resources, timings or budgets,we would say as long as the images still look good enough to eat and reflect the real item being offered, then why not try it.”


Professional food photographer David Robson who captured the real-life photographs said: “I’m intrigued by AI and its ability to generate images that are nearly indistinguishable from reality. While some might see this as a threat, I believe that AI has the potential to enhance the work of creative professionals. By embracing AI tools for photo editing and admin tasks, we can streamline our workflows and focus time on the creative aspects of our work. As technology advances, it’s important for creatives to stay ahead and explore how AI can assist them.”

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