Photography, Light And Lighting

Photography Light And Lighting – A blog post based on conversations with photographers.


Many photographers tell me that they wanna learn about “lighting”. When I ask ’em what they mean by lighting, it winds up that they wanna learn about light.

In photography, light and lighting are different. While photography is what we do as photographers, light and lighting are things to consider when we are doing our photography.

Photography Light And Lighting


When I think about the meaning of the word photography, In my mind, it means the observation and recording of light.


In short, light is what enables us to see. But when we see light, we see light as different things.  Specifically, we see “light sources”. Comparatively,  I consider light sources to be either “transmitting/illuminating” or “reflective”.

Transmitting/Illuminating Light Sources

Just to be clear, I use the words transmitting and illuminating interchangeably. Sometimes, photographers describe this type of light source light as “incident”.

As examples of transmitting/illuminating light: those light-bulbs that you buy at the store, that big bright thing in the sky that keeps us alive, the candle flames that set the atmosphere for a romantic dinner.  Well, they’re ALL transmitting or illuminating light sources.  And they’re necessary for us to see (and photograph) things.

If there weren’t illuminating light sources we’d be walkin’ around in the dark bumpin’ into stuff.  Of course, we’d be bumpin’ into stuff that we couldn’t see. Or, to use the words used in this article, we’d be bumpin’ into stuff that wasn’t reflecting the light being transmitted by an illuminating light source.

Reflective Light Sources

Reflective light sources appear to us as everything that is affected by an illuminating light source. For example, trees, people, mountains, buildings, cars, etc. Because these things reflect light, we can see ’em and photograph ’em.


If light deals with what we see then, in my mind, lighting deals with and equipment/gear that transmits light or is used to manipulate light.

In comparison, light is an observation while lighting is a manipulation of what we are observing.

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Photography Light And Lighting

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