The Art of Seeing Light in Photography

National Geographic photographer Bob Holmes shares tips on how to find the light in photos

The most important thing you can do to change your photographs dramatically is to learn how to see and how to use light in your images. In this week’s episode of Advancing Your Photography, our friend and photographer Bob Holmes is back to share with us tips on how he uses art, more specifically, paintings to see light.

In this 10-minute video, Bob shows us how different paintings has taught him to see things more clearly and how he has translated it to his award-winning photographs.

The problem is that most people look but don’t really see. You have to learn to see. – Bob Holmes

One key point when learning how to see is to find your own sources of inspiration and reflect on why you respond to it. Among the many painters Holmes draws inspiration from, Joseph Wright’s use of the light source within the frame has inspired Holmes to do the same.

Below is a Joseph Wright painting:

And one of Holmes’ photographs that was inspired by Wright’s use of light:

When Holmes was in India recently, he happened upon this scene of a millet harvest:

This scene reminded him of this painting that he knew by Jean-Francois Millet:

Inspiration can be found everywhere, even in paintings that are centuries old. Learn to see it all around you, and then learn to apply it to your photography.

To see more great tips from Bob Holmes, check out these articles. Check out Bob’s Instagram .

For more great photography tips, order your copy of Advancing Your Photography: A Handbook for Taking Photos You’ll Love.