Dan Winters talks technology, AI and more

Photo credit: Travis Smith

Dan Winters is one of the most versatile photographers of our time.

as national geographic An explorer and recipient of more than 100 national and international awards, Winters is known for his unconventional celebrity portraits and unique scientific images, leaving an indelible impression on the photography world.

He is featured in an episode of national geographic new photographer series. Viewers can see the creative process behind the lens and how photographic techniques are used in real time.

before release photographer, Innovation and technology today We spoke with Winters about the challenges and rewards of his career, his six years at NASA Artemis Launch, the AI ​​tools in the field, and more.

Innovation and technology today: Your work ranges from celebrity portraits to scientific photography. This is evident in the new series. What is the one challenge and one reward this brings?

Dan stands on the stairs outside the studio. (National Geographic/David Faust)

Dan Winters: As a photographer, you need something to train your camera on. Someone or something that reflects light onto our lenses. It is a customized pursuit for the curious, as there are all sorts of possibilities in the physical realm. It is difficult to interpret previously explored subjects in new and unique ways. There’s something very satisfying about working on a project for a period of time and feeling like you’ve found it.

I&T today: In the documentary, it’s clear that your wife and son are an inspiration for your work. How has your photography changed for the better thanks to them?

winter: As we have grown as a family, my photography has definitely evolved with them. The day I met my wife, Kathryn, I made her first portrait. I photographed the moment of my son Dylan’s birth. My life has been photography, and although I admit it has interfered with my life at times, I have been able to create a permanent archive of our family’s time on earth.

I&T today: How has photography contributed to your personal growth and understanding of the world?

STS-133 Discovery’s main engine starts at Kennedy Space Center, Florida. (Dan Winters)

winter: My worldview has been shaped primarily by my pursuit of photography. Engaging with my subjects and bearing witness to history allows me to form cross-cultural understandings that continue to influence my photography.

I&T today: Tell us about your six-year project to photograph the NASA Artemis launch.

winter: The Artemis mission is NASA’s current mission to the moon. The Nat Geo project covers a total of three missions, the third being a moon landing. NASA tends to work at a snail’s pace. This is an incredibly complex mission, so my coverage was done in stages and the project was long.

I&T today: How have you seen the photography industry evolve throughout your career? Are there any specific technological advances that have had a big impact on your approach?

winter: The most important technological development is the development of digital photography. It has made me a better photographer in many ways. Most importantly, it provides real-time feedback so you can make adjustments while shooting. I have been shooting large format for many years. I currently carry a small camera in my bag that has the same performance as a 4X5 camera.

Dan is sitting at his desk with an old Rolleiflex camera. (National Geographic/David Faust)

Smartphones are also a development that has influenced our world. We are all in the most photographed period in history, but it will have an impact that we don’t yet understand. One of the challenges is maintaining and preserving image archives.

I&T today: How do you think AI is impacting the photography field and have you tried AI tools in your work?

winter: AI is a useful tool that allows you to upscale images and create large-scale exhibition prints. We have seen some beautiful images generated by AI. I see it as a separate discipline similar to collage and illustration. It is artificial and has no journalistic value.

Dan Winters sits down for an interview. (National Geographic/Gene Galerano)

I&T today: Some argue that technology can either enhance or hinder creativity. How do you see the relationship between technology and the creative side of photography?

winter: Photography is an inherently technical medium. The playing field is essentially level because we photographers are completely dependent on equipment purchased from large corporations. I created the photo on my iPhone, shot it in RAW, and it looks beautiful.

I have always felt that while each camera has its own individuality, it is essentially just a tool to achieve a goal. I’ve heard people look at images and say, “They must have taken the photos with a good camera.” I liken that comment to someone listening to a Mozart concerto and claiming, “This guy must have a good piano,” as if the device was the author.

catch photographer Monday, March 18th national geographic and streaming Hulu and disney plus!

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