The light painting world is an ever-changing one. There has been a steady stream of innovation from all around the world in the past decade. A couple of years ago as I started my journey into the light painting community, I was always looking for work that took not only light painting, but also photography as a whole to new heights. As I searched and searched, I landed onto the page of Eric Paré. There are a few reasons Eric’s work blew me away. His beautiful use of composition in the studio and landscapes, his ability to take amazing photographs of beautiful models, his use of color, and then there is his use of light painting to bring it all together. It is very difficult to light a model with a handheld light source. It often looks unnatural and forced. White balance becomes an issue and posing can be a nightmare. Eric has taken light painting portraits to an entirely new level. Eric has shown that it is possible to be a photographer, light painter, artist, designer, businessman, mentor and innovator all in one shot.
We asked Eric a few questions and he enlightened us with a wealth of knowledge that covers not only the art form of light painting and photography, but also his business and personal side as well. Enjoy.
#1 – Your work is very inspiring; who, or what inspires you to be creative?
What inspires me is places we visit, people I meet, people I work with, my students, things around me, and random thoughts. Sometimes I just get lost in my thoughts and some visuals appear in my mind, then I test it. Sometimes it fails, sometimes it works. Sometimes I just take what’s available around me. Yesterday I was in a hotel room and saw that white cylinder covering a light bulb. I just slide if off of it’s socket and used it later that night. It was not extraordinary but got me some ideas for a custom tool. But obviously, as we do a lot of workshop and meetups, I put my tools in folks hands and get to see very interesting things they create. Things I haven’t thought about. Shapes I never experimented with. So yes, collaborations and teaching helps me evolve and get inspired. So many times I see pictures posted online of people tagging me saying I’m the inspiration behind the picture. How rewarding is that. And how inspiring it is to continue and push things even further!
#2 – Tell us about your business, how you started and how it has grown over time.
The 24×360 Project is what put me on track. I had my first publication a few days after the release, and it was a major one (PetaPixel). Since then I had over 400 publications on about 40 languages across the Internet. Although 24×360 was quite successful, it’s a project I released 4 months later (LightSpin) that gave me a more targeted audience as it clearly defined what I can do best. Being published with quality content helps getting yourself seen by agencies and brands and leads to commercial gigs. Since 24×360, I have worked for Dom Perignon, Adobe and Twitter just to name a few.
#3 – How do you go about utilizing Social media and websites like 500px to get your work out there? Do you have any advice for new light painters trying to put their work out in the world?
There is no perfect recipes and each has to find it’s way. How many times to post per day, what is the best moment, things like that. These topics have been covered on and on on the web, but it is not perfect science and what’s true today might not be true tomorrow. What’s true to one person might not be true for one other. The one common factor with which you can’t go wrong, is to create truly unique and valuable work. That’s the starting point. From that, you can optimize by experimenting with insights, A/B testing, contest submission, feature hashtags and so on. But this is all optional. There won’t be any breakthrough if you don’t already have a very good portfolio. Competition is too high. So basically, don’t waste your time optimizing to get 20% view on a picture that has 100 views, it isn’t worth it. You’d be better spending time on improving your technique, creating better visuals, finding your voice.
#4 – Talk about your favorite light painting technique, how you have developed it, and why you love it.
The main thing I do is one-second light-painting. This is what I have been doing/teaching for 3 years now and it has been experimented (and credited) by hundreds of persons. A major breakthrough for me was when I started using the 4 feet tubes, about 5 months ago. I published a couple of pictures and got over a million views in a week. It didn’t take long before I started to see many attempts at replicating the technique (and yes, I’m happy with that).
I originally got there by trying to get very sharp pictures of my subjects. One trick to do that is to use an external speedlight, but in my case, I’ve always felt that it killed the mood. I prefer working with a single source of light, the one in my hand. Then everything fits together: the trace of light, the light on the subject, the ambiance. There is no way I can achieve this by using studio equipment on top of the light-painting. Or maybe I just don’t want to because I like the fact that what I do is completely lit by hand.
#5 – In the light painting community, what are some of the things you really like and would like to see more of?
My favorite light-painters are the ones with a clear defined style: Janne Parvienen, Cisco, Jan Leonardo, Darren Pearson, Aurora Crowley, Pala Teth, Patrick Rochon… I think we’ll see more and more artists reaching that level in the next years and that’s a good thing.
#6 – What is one of the most memorable light painting shoots you have been on?
(Kim) I have to say that one of the most memorable light-painting shoots we’ve been on happened just a few days ago. We were in Dubai to give 2 workshops, and we wanted to do some light painting shoots in the desert. I’ve been shooting with my light painting technique outside before, but I didn’t have a lot of opportunity to shoot at night during my trip around the world with Kim. With this trip, I didn’t want to miss out the chance to play outside with the tubes, my most recent tool.
For our third night of shooting in the desert, we headed to the desert with new landscape photographer friends. One of which we met during the workshop and another one we knew through social media.
It was holiday, so many people had the same idea as we did… There were a lot of people parked along the road, going to the desert for the sunset.
We decided to search for another place, off-road, much further than the previous one. We went as deep with the 4×4 as the nature allowed us to go.
Then we took our gear and walked until we were surrounded by nothing else than dunes. Once the sun was set, we set up our cameras for some light painting. The photographer that didn’t know about light painting was a little bit hesitant to participate.
That was not “his thing” I could feel it. Later he told us that he had not a good perception of what light painting was, or could be, before that night. I insisted a bit and he got ready.
Once we did the first picture, the sound of enthusiasm and surprise coming from them was unanimous. They sounded like kids whom just got an amazing gift.
We went on for at least two hours, playing with creativity and enjoying the magic of good company in the middle of nowhere. So what was so special about that night?
The awesomeness of the location, obviously, but mostly the exchange and the collaboration between the artists during the whole shoot. It brought us somewhere we probably wouldn’t have gone otherwise.
We were trying to follow our footsteps on our way back, but we rapidly found out that the wind had blown them away and that we were actually following some animal steps… Yes. Kind of deer steps in the desert. We definitely could have got lost on the way back to the car, if it wasn’t for the fact that I pined point the car location with my gps (that would have been another funny story).
I want to thank Eric Paré for giving us all a little insight inside his world. If you want to be inspired further and connect with Eric, then check out all of Eric’s work. You can find it at:
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Article by: Dan McCreight