It wasn't until I read a well-written book (I think it was by Bryan Peterson whom I mentioned in this post) that I finally understood the significance behind the definition. It is actually VERY important AND most people DON'T understand it! That is why photography looks easy, but it isn't as easy as one might think! :)
The word Photography comes from two Latin words: Photos which means "light" and graphé which means "representation by means of lines" or "drawing". Literally photography means "drawing with light".
At this point you may be saying, "Duh...." but think about it. How much attention do you pay to the light when you take a picture?? You pay attention to your subject, be it a person, a barn or a pet. You may even pay attention to composition - remembering the rule of thirds. If you are really advanced, you may have learned about aperture, shutter speed and ISO (which I am still learning....) Pros pay attention to all of this AND the light. Where's the sun? Where are the shadows? How will the light affect the colors in the shot? These are things we may intuitively know, but do we consciously think about them and make decisions based on the information?
One thing he said that stuck with me was this (and I'm paraphrasing because I already checked the book back in at the library.) Just because you don't see the sun in your shot, doesn't mean the sun isn't a part of it.
Here is an interesting exercise. Look at the photos below and take the time to think about these questions:
* Where is the light source in this picture?
* How is the placement of the light source affecting the colors in the shot? the composition?
* How is the light source affecting the subject itself?
* Are there shadows that are distracting or unappealing?
* Is there part of the shot that is too dark or too light? Is it possible that moving the light source (or moving the camera) could have fixed the problem?
* What time of day is it? Would a different time of day have looked better?