Image Authentication in Adobe Lightroom

The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) has revolutionized the way we create and consume images. AI-generated images are now indistinguishable from human-created images, and they are being used in a wide variety of applications, from advertising to art.

This raises a number of concerns for photographers, who are worried that their work will be devalued by AI-generated images. They also worry that AI-generated images could be used to create fake news or other forms of disinformation.

I believe that Adobe could address some of these concerns by implementing a system for authenticating images in Adobe Lightroom. This system would use AI to compare an image to its original source, and it would generate a certificate of authenticity that would show the percentage of the image that was created by AI.

The system could work as follows:

  1. When an image is imported into Adobe Lightroom, a low-resolution thumbnail of the image would be attached to the metadata. This thumbnail would be locked and would be used as the basis for measuring the image’s authenticity.
  2. When the image is exported, a new thumbnail would be generated. This thumbnail would be compared to the original thumbnail for structural changes ignoring basic editing using AI, and a percentage of structual change would be calculated. This percentage would represent the amount of the image that was created by AI.
  3. The percentage of change would be displayed on the export dialog box, and the photographer could choose to include a certificate of authenticity with the image. The certificate would show the percentage of authenticity, as well as the original thumbnail.
  4. This feature could be an Opt-In for users.

This system would benefit Adobe, photographers, and the wider photographic community.

Benefits for Adobe:

  1. Increased trust in Adobe Lightroom: By providing a way for photographers to authenticate their images, Adobe would increase the trust that users have in Adobe Lightroom. This would lead to more people using Adobe Lightroom, which would benefit Adobe.
  2. Increased market share: Adobe would be the first major photo editing software company to offer a system for authenticating images. This would give Adobe a competitive advantage and could lead to increased market share.
  3. Several potential revenue streams.

Benefits for Photographers:

  1. Protection of photographers’ work: By providing a way for photographers to authenticate their images, Adobe would help to protect photographers’ work from being plagiarized.
  2. Increased transparency: By showing the percentage of an image that was created by AI, Adobe would increase transparency in the photo editing process. This would benefit both photographers and consumers.

Benefits for the Wider Photographic Community:

Reduced the risk of fake news: By making it easier to identify AI-generated images, Adobe would help to reduce the risk of fake news.

I believe and have suggested that it would be a valuable addition to the software and would benefit Adobe, photographers, and the wider photographic community.

Would love to hear your thoughts on the matter, or any other suggestions that you may have to protect the integrity of our work moving into this uncertain future.


We were actually thinking about implementing a service like this as a standalone product for the natural landscape photography awards. We think they’re in the coming years. There will be a growing demand for image authentication in regards to ai and Photoshop. I guess only time will tell.


An independent image authentication service could truly revolutionize the world of photography, Matt. It has the potential to tackle a host of issues that photographers face in their line of work.

First and foremost, it would offer a way to safeguard their intellectual property. Photographers put in a lot of effort and creativity to capture those one-of-a-kind moments and produce awe-inspiring images. With the help of cryptographic proofs or watermarks, an authentication service could establish the originality and ownership of their work, effectively deterring unauthorized use and plagiarism.

Another significant benefit is preserving the photographer’s creative vision. Their artistic style and unique perspective are the essence of their work. By utilizing an authentication service, photographers can ensure that their creative expression remains untampered, unaffected by machines or automated editing tools, safeguarding their artistic integrity.

Moreover, this service would be a game-changer in building trust with clients and their audience. Authenticity is a critical aspect of the photography industry, and a reliable image authentication service would assure clients and viewers that the images provided are genuine and unaltered, reinforcing the photographer’s reputation as a trusted professional.

In today’s digital age, where manipulation and misinformation are rampant, such a service would play a crucial role in combating image manipulation and fake news. By verifying the authenticity of their images, photographers contribute to a more reliable and trustworthy visual landscape.

Furthermore, photographs often serve as invaluable historical records, documenting significant events and people. An authentication service would ensure that these visual records remain unaltered, preserving their accuracy and authenticity for future generations.

The service could also strengthen copyright protection for photographers. With tamper-proof certificates as undeniable evidence of original authorship, the process of pursuing legal action against copyright violations would become more straightforward and efficient.

For photographers selling limited editions or catering to art collectors, the authentication service would add value to their prints. Collectors can have peace of mind, knowing they are acquiring genuine and authenticated pieces of art.

Lastly, by including authentication certificates in licensing agreements for commercial use, photographers would offer clarity and confidence to their clients regarding the authenticity and originality of the licensed content.

However, it’s worth noting that Adobe’s current feature called ‘Credentials’ in Lightroom, while a step in the right direction, might not go far enough to provide a bulletproof authentication system. Hence, the need for an independent image authentication service that can offer comprehensive and robust protection for photographers’ creative work.

I believe that a standalone image authentication service empowers photographers to safeguard their creative work and maintain control over how their art is perceived and used. It’s a way of ensuring that the human touch in photography, with its passion, emotion, and ingenuity, is preserved and cherished, surpassing the capabilities of machines and digital manipulations.

I’ve also taken the initiative to approach Adobe about the possibility of incorporating this image authentication feature into their software, particularly Lightroom and Photoshop. I firmly believe that integrating this functionality, especially during the initial upload process in Lightroom, would enhance the overall security and integrity of photographers’ work.

Now, I don’t want to come across as overly paranoid, but I can’t help but recognize another potential concern on the horizon – the rise of AI in cameras for in-camera ‘enhancements.’ While this is an issue for another day, it emphasizes the importance of addressing image authentication proactively, so photographers can maintain control over their creative vision and protect their art from any unintended alterations, whether through software or advanced AI technologies.

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Hi Don
Photoshop’s AI can UNCROP photos. SERIOUSLY. as viewed on Tony & Chelsea Northrup Aug. 11, 2023. Tony showed an un-cropped photographs that had a Osprey flying out of the frame. Then he ask Photoshop to re-crop the shot and adding the missing wing. The result was a natural looking Osprey in flight. This was not a composite, but a completely new regenerated expansion of the raw file. The question is how should identify.

Hi Peter

It seems it’s going to get more difficult to distinguish between original and digitally altered photographs as technology advances. One potential solution could involve camera manufacturers taking a proactive role in this challenge. They could develop a locked ID method or cryptographic signature embedded within the file structure of the image.

This unique identifier would serve as a digital fingerprint for the original shot, allowing any subsequent modifications to be traced and compared to the original. This would provide a verifiable chain of custody for the image, preserving the integrity of the original shot while still allowing for creative manipulation in tools like Photoshop.

Such an approach would necessitate collaboration between camera manufacturers, software developers, and industry standards bodies to create a secure and universally accepted method of image verification. It’s an exciting yet complex possibility that could play a vital role in maintaining authenticity in the field of photography.



I am sceptical that any sort of verification mechanism built around camera files can be made to work reliably, as anything that can be generated in camera can be generated on (any other) computer, i.e., the AI system could generate Sony raw files without any greater difficulty than jpegs. I don’t think cryptographic on camera signing is going to be a viable option either, as the (private) signing keys would need to be stored on the camera, from where they could be retrieved by a third party wanting to circumvent the system. There will eventually be enough finanical incentive for this to spawn an industry, so that the cost of a few camera bodies to hack into would be insignificant.

That leaves an independent external verification service of some sort, but that gets us back to the start – how does such service determine the file is not AI generated? The big problem with AI proliferation that is often overlooked is that eventually (and in not too distant future) it will be difficult to locate any genuinely non-AI content out there simply because of the volume of data that AI can generate. This in turn is going to make very difficult to train humans and/or AI systems to identify non-AI material.

I suspect with photographs it will come down to whether one trusts the photographer, which can work on 1 to 1 bases, but not for things like competitions.