Photography does not exist without light. The word photography itself means "drawing with light". Learning to understand and control light is one of the biggest challenges for aspiring photographers. But, photography does not exist without darkness either, for it is the absence of light that gives us the possibility to build an image. In troubled times like the ones we are living, this thought gives me hope. We have the opportunity to create a better future if we add the proper light to our current darkness.
As a photographer, you start discovering the world through your viewfinder using the available light of the scene. Like a baby on their self-discovery phase, you are more concerned about the technicalities of the camera than in understanding the world around you. You take the surroundings as they are and really don't care about questioning their reason for being or wondering how you can affect them.
But, once the baby has learnt how to use the different parts of their body, they now go on a quest for discovering the world that unravels itself in front of their eyes. So now you take your camera and photograph your surroundings and learn to tell the difference between shooting at night or day or in different weather conditions. You learn that the available light is not always enough, or is not coming from the right angle, or that you want to complement the light with more light or reshape it. Once you understand where the light is coming from and why it behaves the way it does, you go into a dark studio and start adding light to your subject from scratch. And you create your own world.
Similarly, our generation was born into a world that was shaped for us by our predecessors. They did all the fighting for the rights that we take for granted today. For a few decades, the illusion that we were living in a more open and inclusive world made us feel like the fight for these rights was over. We just focused in ourselves and in our self-discovery. But, by letting the guard down, our eyes have been opened by those who don't believe in equality and peace, and the world that unravelled in front of us is not the one that the previous generations fought so hard for.
Like the aspiring photographer, it is our time to understand where the light that we were enjoying came from and to learn how to control it and reshape it so that we can shine some light back into this darkness. So that we can create a better world than the one that was left for us.
Sometimes you just need to go into full darkness to be able to find your light.
Photo credit: behind the scenes image by Ferran Vergés.
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