Magic of Light: Why Is It So Powerful in Food Photography?

I’ve always felt a strong connection with light. From a continual observation of the way it falls onto everyday objects, to an obsession with the LED lights at music festivals, to my friends’ amusement at my love of lamps; light’s powerful ability to create interest, beauty, and furthermore atmosphere and mood, has never failed to excite me. As a baby, ‘light’ was my first word, which upon learning was both amusing and a bit of a lightbulb moment for me (excuse the pun); leading me to further explore, understand and identify this deep-rooted fascination.

Everything begins with light. It is ubiquitous; omnipresent; a source of life. From a physiological point of view, we know that light is essential for our health and wellbeing, and that the timing, quality and quantity of exposure to light is crucial for our bodies in assisting in producing the necessary hormones for our overall health. As creatures of nature, we as humans are intrinsically connected to light - our internal world coincides with our external world because light is what controls our body’s circadian rhythm. We are connected to light visually, as it is the foundation of sight itself. By reflecting and bouncing off various textures and surfaces, it defines shape and depth around us and is a primary tool for how we perceive the world and communicate within it - it shapes our environment. But light is also dynamic and constantly changing; so not only do we see with it - we experience it. Therefore, light shapes not just our environment, but our experience of our environment.

“We have one sky but the experiences are infinite” - Maja Petric (Light, Art & Biophelia

This is where I feel the magic of light comes in - with its ability to create unique, inimitable experiences. In its transient state, light is a source of inspiration. By continuously changing our view of the world around us (to refer to that wonderful phrase - ‘see something in a new light’), it makes way for fresh ideas and perspectives to enter into our consciousness. It allows us to find beauty where we may not have before; to sensually and emotionally engage with our surroundings; to connect. In this way, for me, natural light is as much a part of my entire creative process as it is a physical tool for my food photography.

I see photography as the opportunity to capture a little slice of this magic. By focusing on the way light communicates with my subject, I’m able to communicate my interpretation of it with the viewer, emotionally engaging them in my experience and allowing the light to tell a story. The process is a mutual collaboration between me and my light source; between my manipulation of it and its unpredictable nature - holding a space for those magical moments to arise. 

“For me, a landscape does not exist in its own right, since its appearance changes at every moment; but the surrounding atmosphere brings it to life - the light and the air which vary continually. For me, it is only the surrounding atmosphere which gives subjects their true value” – Claude Monet 

See how I capture the magic of light through food

What inspires you about light?  Share your thoughts in the comments below.  I’d love to know!

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