by Dan Roberts
Photography is the creation of images through the capturing of light. For most photography this capture takes place in a tiny fraction of a second. Most photography also captures the same light that human eyes can see. Most photography captures scenes that the photographer themselves can also see, perhaps with the addition of a flash or a bounced light.
We bring who we are to each shoot. I went to school for physics. I was into extreme sports. I engineer things. I’m a body painter. All of these aspects of me have influenced what I want to shoot, and how. After years in shooting alt-model portraitures I found a new direction for my art: light painting photography.
I have become a light painter. Each image I make is captured in a single long exposure, dancing around in darkness with intentional light movements and effects. It’s a sort of ‘performance photography’ in that each picture must be acted out, executed, and no two pictures will ever be the same. Single shots can range from a couple of seconds to several minutes. Images are created entirely in one camera shot and are not composites in Photoshop.
In daylight, we shoot with the light that is available. In light painting we often make our own available light. Tools purchased or more likely created, appropriating something unrelated to photography as a light source, color changing flashlights, and more. In addition to those things, I play with light in the infrared spectrum, capturing types of light that most cameras are specifically designed to block. Using a full-spectrum camera even allows the combination of infrared and color into the same shot!
The community of light painters around the world is small-but-tight and we share a common passion for this art. When meetups occur there are laughs, smiles, jokes, partying, and the creation of some amazing art. We also share techniques, moves, tools. My wife and I have been to Rome, Berlin (twice), Belgium, and Portland for light painting events and have hosted several of our own in Colorado. We’e also run and participated in global art projects, bringing artists together. One of 2020’s highlights was doing a live photo shoot with an artist who was presently in Madrid, using technology to cast his light, live, to our studio.
After shooting alone for four years, I’ve helped Colorado build a strong and growing light painting community. Join us, share in the love, the magic, the wonder of creation. Waving lights in the dark is fun, satisfying, and you’ll create pictures that stand out from most of the rest. Visit Colorado Light Painting on Facebook.