AI Is to Digital What Digital Was to Analog

As the quote from HG Wells goes: “Adapt or perish, now as ever, is nature’s inexorable imperative.” All he meant by that is that the world is constantly changing — evolving — and if you don’t change with it, you’ll suffer. A similar and related nugget of wisdom came from the ex-England goalkeeper, Peter Shilton: “If you stand still, there is only one way to go, and that’s backwards.” That is, it’s not really possible to stagnate in many areas of life, as you’re either moving forwards or you’re being dragged backwards.
One area that epitomizes that struggle like no other is technology, which is pervasive enough that it’s difficult to avoid. Nevertheless, photography — while technology-centric — feels something of an outlier outside of major evolutions (perhaps even revolutions) of the craft. A photographer with a 1970s Praktica wouldn’t be eclipsed by a similarly skilled photographer with a Nikon F6 from 2004, despite them being vastly different film cameras. This is mostly true in the digital era, though undoubtedly, the photographer with the newest digital camera may have various aids and quality of life benefits. The fundamentals of a good photograph haven’t really changed, but what is possible has.
This is where we saw an unusual moment in the history of photography when digital imagery become not only possible, but viable. In the early 2000s, professionals left analog for digital en masse, and while there will be those that want to debate that, it’s self-evident. Most photographers who worked during the transition period couldn’t believe their luck; digital photography solved myriad pain points — film costs, development, not being able to review shots as you take them, etc. — and the DSLR was warmly welcomed for that. Nevertheless, it created an ever-widening chasm in many areas of photography between those who embraced digital and those who remained steadfast with film.

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