f/8 and be there

This image was the winning entry in one of the categories for the Sony World Photography Awards this year. Producing it was a complex process, and it involved many stages - some of which relied on AI-generated imagery.

This photography project was a result of one photographer's idea: send one 50-year-old camera and one roll of film to his photographer friends, one by one, and see what they come up with.

Both of these processes fascinate me. The first process removes the need to "be there" completely - which used to be the sine qua non of good photography. In its place, it introduces a new way of "reading and understanding light" - one that is negotiated between our sensibilities, our expectations, and the creative perfection/imperfection/appropriation machine of the AI engine.

The second project is closer to how I learned to take photos, and resonates with me a lot more. When your gear takes some skill/guesswork/luck to operate, refuses to give you instant feedback, and reduces your range to 36 frames, every time you take a photo becomes imbued with a "this-is-it-ness", a "this-better-be-good-ness".

Both of these are the peripheries of how we take photos nowadays. The hype is with the AI at the moment - but the undertow to this must be (and, thankfully, turns out to be) a questioning of the promises and shortcomings of digital photography, and a re-evaluation of the things we learn, feel, and discover when being there with film in our cameras.

(hint / challenge: take 10 minutes to find similar peripheries and movements currently forming in writing, in music, in any other art form, and in whatever business you're in.)

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