For your Greek Etymology lesson today, we look at “Photography.” It’s a combination of Phos (light) and Graphe (write). Literally “light-writing.” I have always found that part very interesting because the term itself suggests that the person doing the light writing is actively making the image verses simply “taking” the image. It’s a subtle nuance, but it is a telling one. Why? Because with photography you are using light to tell the story of the image. When you are first starting out, you are simply taking pictures. Then, you get a bit more experience and you start muddling around with Shutter Speeds and f/stops and you find out that you have a lot more say in the story telling than you did before. But you’re still in the realm of taking pictures vs. making them. When you start wielding light, bending it and shaping it, you really start telling the story. You start exercising the control and creative license that has always been there, but now it’s on a more kicked up level than it ever was before.
You start paying attention to the direction of the light. Where is it coming from? What mood does it create? How does the light flavour the image? What part of the story is being told by how the light bends around objects? How harsh are the shadows? How bright or dark is the background? Does it look like a kid with a polaroid blasted the living crap out of it or does it look like a master of the universe creatively made the image with beautiful soft diffused light? It’s all pretty cool stuff. Light is everything. We should learn all we can about it and when we do, we start to unlock it’s power.