Light is the lifeblood of the photograph.
As a photographer – or an aspiring photographer – you might have heard the preceding phrase a time or two. You might have also been taught that the origin of the word photography is a fusion of two Greek derivatives: photos meaning “light” and graphe meaning to “write” or “draw.” The inference here being that photography means to write with light.
George Eastman, the founder of the Eastman Kodak Company, knew a little something about light.
“Light makes photography. Embrace light. Admire it. Love it. But above all, know light. Know it for all you are worth, and you will know the key to photography.”
These are indeed lofty and inspiring words which happen to be mostly true. But he was also fond of saying:
“You push the button and we do the rest.”
It should be noted that Mr. Eastman is best known as a businessman, not a photographer.
It might seem obvious to most of you, but it is light that you capture with your camera, not the subject in your viewfinder. This is pretty profound when you really think about it. Your subject is always the light reflecting off the scene; its direction, intensity, and color. Not only is light the lifeblood of the photograph, light is everything.