A photograph or photo is an image created by light falling on a light -sensitive surface, usually photographic film or an electronic medium such as a CCD or a CMOS chip. Most photographs are created using a camera, which uses a lens to focus the scene's visible wavelengths of light into a reproduction of what the human eye would see. The process and practice of creating photographs is called photography. The word " photograph " was coined in 1839 by Sir John Herschel and is based on the Greek φῶς (phos), meaning " light ", and γραφή (graphê), meaning " drawing, writing ", together meaning " drawing with light ". Many jurisdictions have laws prohibiting certain types of photographs which may include photos of government buildings, copyrighted content, private property, and the depiction of an uninformed or child 's genitalia or other erogenous zones.