Seeing the Light

You gotta see the light before you shoot it.

In the world of photography, there exists an intricate dance between the photographer and the light. It is a dance that transcends time, cameras, and formats. It is a dance that requires an unyielding understanding and a profound appreciation for the essence of light.

For those who have embarked on this artistic journey, it becomes apparent that in photography, seeing precedes shooting. This innate ability to “see the light” is what separates the ordinary from the extraordinary, transforming a mere snapshot into a work of art.

As a seasoned photographer, with close to five decades of experience, I can confidently assert that the magic of photography lies in the mastery of light. It is not merely about capturing a subject, freezing a moment, or composing an image. It is about harnessing the intangible quality of light and using it to convey emotions, tell stories, and evoke a sense of wonder.

To truly “see the light,” one must become attuned to its nuances. Light is not a static entity but a living, breathing force that can shape and transform the world before our eyes. It is both a physical phenomenon and an ethereal presence. It can be soft and gentle, casting delicate shadows that caress the landscape. It can be harsh and piercing, illuminating every crevice with unyielding intensity. It can be warm and inviting, painting a golden glow on the faces of loved ones. Or it can be cool and ethereal, creating a dreamlike atmosphere that lingers in our memories.

The key to unlocking the potential of light lies in understanding its behavior and knowing how to manipulate it to suit our artistic vision. As photographers, we are not mere observers but active participants in this dance with light. We must learn to see beyond the surface, to perceive the interplay of light and shadow, and to anticipate how it will interact with our chosen subjects.

In the pursuit of this mastery, we must constantly train our eyes to see beyond the obvious. We must learn to see the subtle interplay of highlights and shadows, the delicate gradations of tonality, and the way light breathes life into the world.

We must learn to see the light filtering through the leaves of a tree, dappling the ground with a tapestry of intricate patterns. We must learn to see the play of light on the surface of water, transforming it into a mirror of dreams. We must learn to see the ethereal glow of the setting sun, as it paints the sky with hues that defy description.

Moreover, the ability to see the light goes beyond technical proficiency. It is an extension of our innermost selves, our emotions, and our unique perspective on the world. It is a reflection of our inner light, the essence that drives us to capture moments and share our vision with the world. Through our eyes, the world is imbued with beauty and meaning.

To truly see the light, we must cultivate patience, perseverance, and an insatiable curiosity. We must be willing to explore the world with open eyes and an open heart. We must seek out moments of inspiration and chase after the fleeting interplay of light and shadow. We must embrace both the familiar and the unfamiliar, for it is in the unknown that we often find the most extraordinary light.

In conclusion, the art of photography is a testament to our ability to see beyond the surface and capture the essence of light. It is a lifelong journey of discovery, where the act of seeing precedes the act of shooting. Through this dance with light, we can transform the ordinary into the extraordinary and give voice to our deepest passions. So, let us continue to chase the light, to see the unseen, and to create images that resonate with the very essence of our being.


Jack Hollingsworth

P.S. All images here were shot on an iPhone 14 Pro Max. The heightened color was done, in camera, during capture, not in post, during editing. I went “old school” on many of these, using glass filters (FLD, Blue, Orange) on top of my iPhone lenses

Jack Hollingsworth