Ansel Adams’s Estate Rebukes Adobe for Selling A.I. Images in the Style of the Late Photographer

"You are officially on our last nerve with this behavior," the estate wrote to the company on Threads.

Ansel Adams in California, 1983. Photo: Barbara Alper/Getty Images.

Last Friday, May 31, Adobe received a public earful from the Ansel Adams estate over A.I. images, available on the software company’s stock photo service, which were generated in the style of the late photographer.  

“@adobe,” the estate wrote on Threads, “you are officially on our last nerve with this behavior.” Accompanying the post was a screenshot of the Adobe Stock platform displaying an A.I.-generated image made available for license by a user named frefre. The picture, which depicts a black and white mountainscape, is titled “Nature’s Symphony: Ansel Adams-Style Landscape Photography.” 

Adobe Stock offers millions of stock visual assets, and since late last year, has welcomed submissions generated with A.I., which are approved by the company before going up for sale on the platform.

In guidelines issued to contributors regarding A.I.-generated images, Adobe prohibited text prompts and keywords containing “names of people” or “artists’ names whose work is still in copyright.” Its tips for creators submitting content further urged: “Don’t include ‘in the style of’ in your prompts or use visual or written prompts based on real people, fictional characters, or the work of other artists.”


Post by @anseladams
View on Threads


Still, that has apparently not stopped listings naming artists from popping up, according to Adams’s estate. In another post on Threads, the organization noted that this was but the latest round of “A.I.-generated Adobe Stock image listings that improperly referenced Ansel Adams.” It added that it had been trying to reach Adobe since August 2023. 

“We invite you to become proactive about complaints like ours [and] to stop putting the onus on individual artists/artists’ estates to continuously police our IP on your platform, on your terms,” it wrote, addressing the company. 

Artnet News has reached out to the estate for more about its contact with Adobe, but did not receive a response by press time.

As of June 1, Adobe has removed the offending listing, but not before Threads users piled on. Many called out the stock image provider for licensing A.I. images and questioned if A.I. art is even copyrightable. Some further decried Adobe’s disservice to creators by opening its platform to A.I.-generated works: “It is absolutely disgusting,” wrote one user. “[Adobe] really needs to figure out where they stand: with artists or against artists.” 

In a statement emailed to Artnet News, Adobe highlighted that generative A.I. content submitted to its stock image platform undergoes a moderation process to ensure it does not violate its terms of use. Any A.I. material that doesn’t meet the company’s content policies is removed; the offending account might also be closed.

“Adobe is actively in touch with the Ansel Adams Estate team and has removed content from the Stock collection and blocked the contributor, given the user violated Adobe’s terms and conditions,” the company stated.

In a follow-up post, the Ansel Adams account acknowledged the supportive responses and Adobe’s swift action in removing the listing, saying: “We expect that it will stick this time.” 

“We don’t have a problem with anyone taking inspiration from Ansel’s photography,” the estate added, “but we strenuously object to the unauthorized use of his name to sell products of any kind, including digital products [and] A.I.-generated output—regardless of whether his name has been used on the input side, or whether a given model has been trained on his work. Those are separate issues.” 

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