In Pursuit of Light

In a forum such as this one where people gather and connect about their shared love for photography it’s no wonder to me that there’s a running conversation about the value of light. As photographers it’s what we do. We search for light and we seek to capture any bit of it that enchants us. Sometimes it’s about replicating a feeling or documenting a moment and other times it’s about creating a new one. However you view your photography, your camera may be the brush, but it’s the light that you mix on your pallet.

Some people I know, are moved by melody; others by prose. More still, by taste, style or sense of place. Of course any combination of these in the right dose and application hold meaning for me, but nothing touches my soul like the sun. My love affair with the stuff (and consequently my roller coaster relationship with darkness) started before I ever picked up a camera, though. 

Every door I walk through, the first thing I see is how the light enters the space. If I’m coming to visit you, don’t waste your  time cleaning up, just draw open the blinds. The corner of a room where sunlight gets caught fascinates me, and golden glowing edges of cheekbones or jars are the things of my dreams.

I know exactly where the sun falls on my sofa at every hour during every season and nothing makes me more melancholy than august evenings when the light begins to fade and I know what lies ahead.

Scientifically it’s a thing—this need for the ultraviolet. For those of us who are afflicted, there’s a piece missing and we are at risk during winter’s shorter days. Here’s where the camera comes in for me.  I’ve learned to get through those darker days by absorbing every ounce of sunlight I possibly can and drawing it up to the surface when I feel the weight bear down. 

I collect the light with my camera. It exists in my computer and in print for me to inject directly into my mood as needed. I walk through days of usual and ordinary and I see things that are anything but. Light becomes a commodity and it takes on shapes and forms that can brighten even the darkest days. 

I know I’m not alone in this need for light. Those of us who make photographs, we feed on it. Vitamins, light therapy, yoga, antidepressants. None ever really helped before. Who knew that a camera might be the thing that could actually do the most good?

And so, as the sun streams through my kitchen window later into the evenings now, the feeling of weightlessness is palpable. The emotional hatches, tightly battened down sometime early last fall, have been removed and I am liberated. 

Do you have a favorite photograph that is all about the light? Share the link below!

Image and words courtesy of guest shutter sister Amy Drucker. You can find Amy on her blog, at Flickr and on Instagram at @amy_druck.


  1. says

    Living in the desert now, I have light most days of the year. This has been a change for me coming from Canada. It has been a bit of a learning curve taking pictures here having to adjust for the mid-day sun. When I stumble into the perfect light situation in the middle of the day, it is a strange and wonderful thing.

  2. says

    It was wonderful to find you here!
    I could have written some of this myself, Amy. I, too, know where all of the pockets of light are in my house, throughout the day, across the seasons. When the late light returns to my countertop in the evening on the first day of daylight savings in time for me to prep dinner, I say a silent "hello, old friend." This has become almost like an annual prayer.

    I think ALL of my favorite photographs are about the light – I can recall of one of yours where you caught a starburst of sunset filtered through trees last year – it made my heart leap.

    Here are two recent photos of mine that feel all about light in different way – strong and soft.

  3. says

    Beautifully written, Amy! I can relate to both your love of light and feelings when it departs for the long winter season. Thanks for sharing!

  4. says

    What a beautiful post! I love what you've written here. The comment about cleaning made me laugh. I say dirty windows diffuse the light beautifully and make a built-in texture and a dusty house makes for great sunbeams. And yes, in a way, a camera serves as my lightbox — I never looked at it that way before.

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