Photography means quite literally “to write with light”. For 18 years, I struggled with this aspect of photography. I read book after book, I mastered manual exposure controls, understood the rules of composition and focus, but that elusive quality of light continue to elude me. I took photography classes, both online and in person, went to seminars and read blogs, but none of them spoke about light. Light is the very definition of photography. It should be the very basis of everything taught about photography but I’ve come to the conclusion that it is not for the simple reason that very few people take the time to master it.
On the very first day of classes at the Hallmark Institute of Photography. My instructor began his lesson with light. I was *finally* getting the information on that aspect of photography, somebody was finally explaining to me the very essence of light. It put a huge smile on my face that has been there ever since. In this day and age, anyone with a dSLR camera can be called a photographer for there are no requirements to enter this industry. There is no test to take, no board exam, most work from home so they don’t even bother with business licenses, business liability insurance or worry about taxes. There is no requirement to understand light. I know this, because I’ve taken classes from, and picked the brains of photographers in business who couldn’t teach me light. I went to a college for a program in photography, and there they taught me to photograph photos to my favorite poem. I took an online class that taught me to use a large aperture to photograph macros of flowers. I took every sports photography book out of the library and chased my children around a soccer pitch and learned to use a fast shutter speed for sports photography. I went to Hallmark and finally learned about light.
Light is the very basis of photography. It is everywhere in our life, a lamp to read by, a sunbeam streaming through a window, sunlight reflecting on snow that makes us squint when we drive, but how does it work, what does it do and how does a camera read it. Ever since Hallmark, I have become less of a photographer and more of a light chaser. Light is ever changing, I watch it dance on my living room wall in the early morning amazed at what it can do, I watch it wrap my children’s faces in awe, at it’s simple beauty and theirs. I let it bring life to the images I create. And I spend my life following it.
It is for this reason, I consider myself to forever be a student of photography. I will constantly continue to learn about light, to see it better, to use it to sculpt an image, to bend it, bounce it, flag it, smooth it or use it to add feeling to my images.
When I took this image, I was sitting on my couch and my daughter peeked out our living room window at the snow. Her face lit up with awe at it’s falling beauty. I saw the light open up and wrap her face in that awe. I was mesmerized by this light and I grabbed my camera and photographed it. This image would not be as strong without this soft light. This light that is wrapping her face, the light that is highlighting her feeling of awe and rapture is bouncing it back from within her. There was no photoshop work done on this image, it just is. Just the way I took it. This image is to me, all about light. Hers. And it is a beautiful light.