Before we were born we saw light. It was pink and out of focus, but it was there. We've had light all around us and for most people it's all about being able to just see in the dark, or it comes from the sky, or we flip a switch and we can see. It's as natural as breathing and we take it for granted the same way. Photography is all about the light. All photography uses it...great photography manipulates it, paints with it, makes us see what the photographer, what the artist, wants us to see.
It could be as simple as a black photo with a hint of an eye showing. It often uses light to draw lines with the shadows to bring out a shape, a form, or lack of one. Light is the essence of the art of photography.
If it's a bride we can wash her in warm pastels or put a baby in beautiful sunshine. Endless options.
When I have the opportunity to share my knowledge of photography I always show how everything I do revolves around the light. Studio lighting, location lighting for day and night, and playing with the light in all situations. I often find myself stepping back and wondering just how I can use the light I have to make this into an interesting picture. It's not like a math problem to me. There are no rules. Actually, there are plenty of rules and I break them every chance I get because I ignore them. Knowing your lights, modifiers, and gear to a degree where you just know what they can do is all you ever need. I light a subject with my gut more than my brain. What is going to make the shot just crawl off the page and grab you by the ears! Okay, maybe not that strong, but keep your eye on the shot and wonder.
So many people take pictures that are, well, just pictures. Selfies, but using a photographer. Sorry, but yuck.
If people look at a picture and they are moved by it. If they wonder what the person is thinking in the picture. If they feel what the subject is feeling then I think it was worth the time, the thought, or gut, that went into it.
When someone sees a picture I've taken of a nude or implied subject and the response is 'that's hot' then they aren't seeing what I intended at all.
I'm thinking that great photography is broken down into two groups. People who know how to use the light to paint an amazing picture with their camera, and those that know enough about art to appreciate it for the art that it is.
If you are a photographer - know every aspect of lighting. Period. And you will be amazing!