Lessons from Light

    August 30, 2019
    What comes to mind when you think of light? Brightness? Discovery? Knowledge? Hope? Joy? Light has many meanings. For me, a fourth-generation photographer, light is everything. Without light, there is no picture. Without light, there is no point.
    I see life through a wide-angle lens with a side-mounted flash. As I’ve spent much of my life thinking about light and trying to capture the right amount of it in my lens, I’ve learned some principles about photography that might be helpful to those of us who at times feel lost and search for light to help guide us back.

    Flash Lighting vs. Natural Lighting

    Photo by Eric Adams
    One way to consider how light affects our lives is to compare two common forms of light—flash lighting versus natural lighting. One is brief, intense illumination. The other is a steady, less intense light.
    A couple of years ago, I had a “flash moment” in my life. It had been a week since I had biked 100 miles in training for my fourth Iron Man competition. I felt on top of the world. But in a routine doctor’s visit, we discovered that I had a heart murmur. Within days I was on a gurney being whisked to open-heart surgery. I was suddenly a 35-year-old father of three with only a fifty-fifty chance of survival. This was my flash moment. I just wanted to hug and love my wife and kids. I wanted to be a better husband and father. All of the other things in life didn’t matter anymore. The flash changed me.
    But over time, life went back to normal. My focus started to get blurry again. Priorities shifted. While that single flash was powerful, it was not as lasting or useful in seeing things as clearly as with a continuous flow of light.
    The scriptures witness that “[Jesus Christ] is the light and the life of the world” (Mosiah 16:9). He is our source of that continuous flow of light. Through Him, God’s love and light can fill us and help us grow.

    Proximity Matters

    We can see light from very far away, but it won’t illuminate us until we are close to it. In photography and in life, proximity matters. The closer we get to a source of light, the brighter we become.
    Photo by Eric Adams
    “That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day” (Doctrine and Covenants 50:24).
    At times we find ourselves knowing that God loves His children, but we struggle to feel His love for us personally. Or we know that God answers prayers, but we doubt that He hears ours. It isn’t until we “come unto Him” through prayer, scripture study, and making and keeping sacred covenants that we become illuminated by His light.
    I’ve found that it is by consistently making and keeping covenants with intensity and consistency that we can continuously feel the light and love of God. King Benjamin described this as being “steadfast and immovable, always abounding in good works” (Mosiah 5:15). As I follow impressions to do good, to pray, to study the scriptures, and to try harder each day to be more like Jesus Christ, my focus changes. My consistency in these actions helps me to “keep the lights on” when it comes to being a better follower of Jesus Christ.

    We Can Be a Light to Others

    In photography you learn quickly that bright surfaces reflect light, while dark surfaces absorb light. People are similar. Those who possess greater spiritual light radiate that light to others. Those who are self-absorbed reflect little.
    There was a period in my life when I felt stuck. I couldn't see a way forward. I had an inward focus on my own selfish needs. But what Christ wants us to do in these situations is to have an outward focus, to see others as He sees them and to help them along in their journey—that is, to give off light rather than absorbing everything for ourselves. Even though my story is imperfect, I know I’ll be all right because Christ lights the way forward, even if it requires taking a few steps into the dark.
    The Savior teaches, “Ye are the light of the world,” and He instructs us to “let [our] light so shine before men, that they may see [our] good works, and glorify [our] Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14, 16). As followers of Christ, we are to receive light from virtuous sources and radiate it to others.
    Photo by Eric Adams
    The radiating of that light looks different for all of us. It can be in a smile, a kind word, a heartfelt invitation, a meaningful cry with a friend, or the seemingly mundane in our everyday work.
    When people look at my photos, they often respond with comments about how happy, real, natural, and inspiring the subjects are. For me, this is a reflection of God’s light in their lives—light that bridges heaven and earth in everyday people. Feeling God’s light doesn’t require a big job title, a big personality, or a big calling. His light is always there to find.
    In photography, light is everything. In life, “the Light” is everything. We just need to lean in and get close to Him.

    Eric Adams

    Eric Adams is a fourth-generation photographer who lives in Park City, Utah. He enjoys traveling with his wife and fishing.