Light Painting photographer Jason Page has been busy upping the ante concerning the art of light painting! The Florida based light painter was recently invited to the Miami Art Basel as the only light painting photographer!
Besides being a light painter himself, he is also one of the few people that try and connect the world of light painting photographers in form of lightpaintingphotography.com. Just like the light junkies pool by Fiz-iks/Trevor, it has become a true hub for information on light painting. But enough on the site, visit it yourself if you’re interested. Right now it’s all about Jason.
Jason hails from Tequesta in South-Florida, which is about 45 minutes from West Palm Beach. I had no idea what kind of environment that is, but reading that Jason takes ‘Anti-Bear Spray’ on his trips kind of gave the hint that it is rugged. Jason: “The reason I take bear spray is that I usually shoot out in the woods alone at night. My general routine is to plan a shot and then hike during the day to find a location. Then go back to the location before sundown. I go out in state parks and there is a lot of wildlife; bears, alligators, bobcats, even panthers. I’ve had the most trouble with wild boar, those things are nasty! I have only had to use the spray once so far, on some boars I had a stand-off with.”
Setting plays a big part in light painting photography. Interaction with the environment is almost a must with light painting, so we were curios how much Jason’s wonderful environment is an influence on his light painting. “If I was in an urban environment I think I
would probably shoot in tunnels like TCB, but because I live near the woods, that is where I usually end up.” he explains. As for an ideal location, Jason prefers anything without light pollution, but the landscapes of the American South-West and Joshua National park are places he would love to shoot as well.
Miami Art Basel
It’s clear that being present at the Miami Art Basel was an exciting thing for Jason. With 50.000 visitors in four days his photographs got plenty of airtime. He had to say ‘no photoshop’ more times in a day than you have to say ‘no gracias’ in Acapulco! Jason: “The show I was in was called ‘Multiversal’. I know the amazing Vicki DaSilva showed at basel before, but I’m pretty sure I was the only light painter there this year. While I was there I searched everywhere, trying to find another light painter but never did. I know I have the first Art Basel badge with ‘light painting’ on it. I had the lady that checked me in do a search and she confirmed it!”
SOOC (Straight out of Camera)
That Jason explicitly has to say that there is no Photoshop involved in these pictures makes you think though. Does the general public even realize how much it takes for an artist like Jason to create one ‘perfect’ picture? They might go ‘wow’, but do they truly appreciate the effort? Jason: “The general public has no idea what I do to create my images. I think when people can understand the work that goes into light painting they can appreciate it, however even with an explanation few get it. Usually what happens to me is I will explain how it’s done and that there is no digital manipulation and then the person I am explaining it to will say something like ‘ok so you do all that and then you use Photoshop’. A handful of times people understand, usually another photographer, but even if you understand technically how an image is created people have no idea what really goes into creating some of my images.”
And that’s it really, if the public has no idea of the effort that goes into light painting photography, it’s hard to get the appreciation you’re after. To make you understand how much time goes into planning a shoot, here’s a list of 6 months planning and 8 hours of shooting for one of his latest images:
- Inspiration strikes and the idea talks hold in my mind. (about 6 months ago)
- Write it down so I won’t forget it.
- Sketch it out in my idea book.
- Experiment to figure out how to technically accomplish the shot SOOC (straight out of camera).
- Search Ebay to find filters, diffusion, ND filters, lights, and other random stuff needed.
- Experiment with ebay items.
- Convince wife to go out for test shots.
- Tweak all the ideas that didn’t work.
- Convince wife, test shots again.
- Develop completely new techniques for shooting.
- Invent tools to accomplish shot (SOOC).
- Test shots.
- Scout locations for (interior shot).
- Convince owners to let you use the location in the middle of the night, for free.
- Find hot babe (other than wife) that doesn’t mind staying awake and working all night.
- Convince model(s) to work for a free print and dinner.
- Shoot for 8 hour a night using unique light painting techniques that I have developed over 8 years of trial and error, to create one single image.
“So to answer your question I think there is value in all that effort because with a light painting you get a natural organic feeling that you cannot create with photo#$%*.” Jason explains to us.
When the magic happens
From his meticulous planning you can sense that Jason has a true passion for light painting. The process seems almost magical. Jason “The way I create my images is very planned, so the magic happens for me when I capture something I didn’t expect, it’s usually a characteristic of a particular light. Then I can work on that effect to make the final image better than I thought it could be. I shoot a lot more digital than I do film simply for the immediate gratification of being able to see the image right away. Surprises always happen after the shutter closes and you hurry back to see what you have created, the anticipation of seeing the image is almost as addictive as nailing a shot. It’s hard for me to describe the feeling of getting a vision out of my head into a tangible form I can share with people, I guess its freeing in a way. I have had ideas in my head for images that I wanted to create literally since I was a kid, when light painting found me It was the greatest night of my life. In one a single instant everything clicked and I knew that I had found my life’s work.”
Even though there is a long lists of artists from now to a 100 years ago who have done light painting photography, the attention is still limited to individuals instead of seeing it as an art-form. We wonder if there will be more light painters invited to such serious art shows like the Miami Art Basel. Jason: “I think as time goes on there will be more light painting photographers gaining recognition and getting invited to the ‘Big’ art shows like ART Basel. I think what will happen to light painting will be similar to what happened to street art. One day someone that ‘matters’ will come along and say ‘wait a minute, what the hell is this’…..then overnight our recognition and the value of our work, to the art world, will go through the roof. I think right now any exposure is good for light painting photography and I would love to see more light painters at shows.”
As CFYE we’re always cautious for a sudden subculture that starts trending. We’ve all seen it happen in street art which went from underground to being gentrified in a heartbeat. Copycats and opportunists are also around every corner. Jason wouldn’t mind to get copied though: “I would love to be copied…. that means I’m doing something right. I think I speak for every serious light painting photographer when I say we want to sell work and make a living off our passion. To sell enough work to eat we need mainstream exposure. I have complete confidence in the merit of my work and know that it will rise to the top. It’s not hard to go out and make orbs, but there is a BIG difference between being an artist and being able to make a light painting. So I welcome opportunist and copycats and whatever else comes with exposure.”
An illuminated future
Because Jason is quite the hub in the light painting community with his website, lightpaintingphotography.com, he must know who the light painters are to keep an eye on. Jason: “Dean Chamberlain, Aurora Crowley, and Brian Hart have really impressed me. I had the opportunity to speak with Dean Chamberlain on the phone a few weeks back and I have never been so impressed with any other artist. Dean’s understanding of light painting, what he has done for the art form, and what he is going to do just simply blew my mind. I have never been so artistically inspired by another human in all my life.”
Jason has many exciting things planned concerning light painting photography. Jason: “One thing I want to do that I need funding for is developing my own custom set of light painting brushes. I don’t want to give too much of it away because I do pan on making them one of these days, but they will give you complete control over the light and allow for you to get many different textures of light all from one single brush.” He also has a bright look on the future of the art form, and would love to give emerging light painting artists the opportunities he wishes someone would give him now. Jason: “like funding a show and getting my work in front of people that I can’t reach on a limited budget. That day is not too far away, there are some big things in the works with several light painters out there and it is just going to take that one person that “matters” to see it and then…..”