All good photography starts with one thing: THE LIGHT.
Light is the essence of all photography. Without at least some light we shoot no photos. Learning how to use light creatively is at the heart of all good photography.
Idea #1: Great photographic artists learn to love and appreciate beautiful light! It’s the simplest and most sublime of all ideas when it comes to photography and yet it’s a concept that many photographers never stop to consider. God has put us here on this beautiful, fragile planet, and every day, it’s bathed in the most incredible light imaginable. Your job as a photographer is to learn to use the light that God has given us.
Below are two photographs of the same scene, a lighthouse in Madisonville, Louisiana, on the coast of Lake Pontchartrain near my home. One is shot at midday, the other as the sun is setting. The photographs are identical in terms of their composition, lens selection, etc. Yet one is boring, the other awe-inspiring. The difference? Simple. It’s all in the light.
Exercise #1: Try to become acutely aware of the light around you. How does it change throughout the day? When is it more beautiful? How does the angle and direction of the light affect your response to it? How about sunny vs. cloudy/rainy light? Do you find there is certain light that appeals to you most as a photographer?
Now, try shooting a group of photographs in which beautiful light is the deciding factor. Don’t expect this to be easy or fast! Slow down, take your time. Try to be truly observant of the light around you. Once you have your group (say at least a dozen careful, unique images), examine them together. Has concentrating on light changed what you saw? Has it changed your approach to your work?
This exercise will fundamentally change how your approach your photography, so savor this experience! See how this new way of “seeing” subtly changes all of your shooting.