Photography is a language of light, not words. Its vocabulary is light, its form is light (and absence of light), its poetry is the pattern and design that light reveals.
People often struggle with this, not because it doesn’t make sense, but because the language of light is, for most of us, only a source for language, and is rarely-used as a primary means of communication. Our brains typically (and instantly) convert sensory input into language−words, to be exact. Yet that process, so deeply engrained into the way we think, filters out volumes of input that words can’t express.
Words are abstractions. They’re effective at giving us a first take on reality, and very effective at reducing the world to a handful of nouns. As photographers, the problem arises when we fall into the trap of merely photographing our description of reality, rather than photographing our experience of reality.
Standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon, full of notions of its cliffs, immensity and history, we might make a photograph of it. But in our quest to include the requisite nouns in the frame, it’s all too easy to ignore the actual visual reality that the verbs and adjectives might try and fail to explain, the sight that made that moment a meaningful experience−made it something worth raising the camera to our eye.