Embracing the Infinite Canvas

Light, Color, and Design as Subjects in Photography

In my early days as a photographer, I staunchly believed that the subject matter should always reign supreme. It was the tangible elements—the people, places, and things—that dictated the essence of a photograph. However, as the years have passed, and my journey in photography nears the five-decade mark, I’ve undergone a profound shift in perspective. No longer tethered solely to the practicalities of capturing subjects, I’ve delved deeper into the realms of philosophy and emotions, realizing that in the realm of fine art photography, the building blocks of light, color, and design can themselves be the subjects.

This realization was sparked by a spirited debate with a colleague, who fervently argued that light, color, and design should never be endpoints but rather the starting points for photographic exploration. At first, early in my photography journey, I resisted this notion, clinging to the belief that subject matter was paramount. Yet, as I allowed myself to wander down the winding paths of contemplation, I began to see the merit in my colleague’s stance.

In the realm of fine art photography, where the objective is not merely to capture reality but to convey emotion, evoke thought, and stir the soul, the possibilities are truly boundless. Light, that ethereal force that shapes and defines everything it touches, can itself become the subject of a photograph. Whether it’s the gentle caress of morning sunlight streaming through a window or the dramatic interplay of shadows cast by a setting sun, light possesses an inherent beauty that is worthy of exploration in its own right.

Likewise, color—the vibrant tapestry that paints the world around us—can take center stage in a photograph. From the subtle hues of a dew-kissed flower petal to the bold contrasts of an urban landscape ablaze with neon lights, color has the power to evoke emotions, convey mood, and transport the viewer to another realm entirely.

And then there’s design—the underlying structure that imbues a photograph with rhythm, balance, and harmony. Whether it’s the geometric patterns of a city skyline or the organic curves of a winding river, design serves as the invisible hand that guides the viewer’s eye, leading them on a visual journey through the image.

What’s truly exhilarating about embracing this approach is the boundless array of subjects that reveal themselves when viewed through the lens of light, color, and design. Suddenly, the world becomes a veritable treasure trove of inspiration, with every street corner, every passing moment offering new opportunities for exploration and discovery.

So, to my fellow photographers, I implore you: dare to look beyond the confines of traditional subject matter. Embrace the infinite canvas that is light, color, and design, and allow yourself to see the world with fresh eyes. In doing so, you’ll unlock a world of endless possibilities—one where the only limit is the boundaries of your own imagination.



Jack Hollingsworth