What is photography?

© 2012 Andrei C. Zamfir

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The word itself gives us the definition. At its origin, there are two Greek words: photo, meaning light and graphy, meaning draw. When we put the two together we understand photography means to draw with light.

This is much easier said than done. Understanding and capturing light in a meaningful and artistic way is no easy task. However, the understanding of this concept is the starting point. Light is the single most important element in capturing images. Have you heard the saying ‘Amateurs worry about gear, pros worry about light’?

Try capturing any subject in plain, harsh daylight. It does not matter if you think it is boring (i.e. a parking meter or a door knob). Then capture the same subject and from the same angle on a cloudy day. Then at dusk or dawn. The light will be different in every one of those situations. The point is good light can make the most boring subject interesting, sometimes even stunning. It is no secret our eyes are attracted to light. After I understood this simple truth, I decided to always drive with my lights on to help other folks on the road see me better (it reduces the risk of accidents, I am not trying to draw unwanted attention :)).

Drawing with light is creating art. A mere snapshot says ‘I was here’. A photograph says “I was here and this is how it felt’.

So next time you capture a moment in time, think about light and how you can best draw with it on and around your subject.

All my best,



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