If photography were a recipe, what would we need? Some may say a camera, others a lens, and others still might say it’s too complex to list. Yet photography, at its most basic, is a record of light and time. Without either, photography as we know it today would not exist. In fact, the word itself quite literally means to write or paint with light, derived from the Greek words “photos” for light and “grafia” meaning to write or draw. That’s why there’s no better technique to explore the fundamental ingredients of photography like writing with light.

Check out the video below to learn about three artists who use the technique of writing with light in creative ways:

Want to learn more? Don’t forget to browse other inspiring resources on the fundamentals of photography at MOPA’s Photo 101Also, make sure to check out MOPA’s Nancy K. Dubois Library for unique resources related to photography and film.


Special thanks to the artists Andreas Feininger, Barbara Morgan and Gary Schneider. 

Logo for the City of San Diego