Light painting artist Brian Hart has been creating his light painting images for some time now. He has developed a style of light line work that can be instantly recognized as his own. Brian’s exposures can go for 20 minutes or more in which he intricately traces every detail of a scene. He is also know for creating technically complex images such as “Dark Water” and “The Garden” where Brian shoots upwards of 200 individual [unique] photographic exposures with the intent of placing them all together to create one grand image. His work has been shown on an international level. View some of Brian’s images below and read the entire light painting photography interview. If you would like to see more from Brian check out his website HERE.
Light Painting Photography interview conducted by Jason D. Page in 2011
LPP ∇ What is your name?
BMH ∇ brian matthew hart.
LPP ∇ Do you have an alias that you go by?
BMH ∇ i do not.
LPP ∇ Are you a soloist or are you part of a Light Painting group? If a group who is in your group?
BMH ∇ not part of a specific collective but make drawings with others often.
LPP ∇ What education do you have?
BMH ∇ undergraduate degree in studio art [drawing, photography, design].
LPP ∇ What is your occupation?
BMH ∇ freelance photographer/illustrator/designer/retoucher. i’ve been working for a large corporation, in and around their photo studios, for the past 5 years.
LPP ∇ How long have you been a photographer?
BMH ∇ about 10 years.
LPP ∇ How long have you been light painting?
BMH ∇ i’ve been making light drawings since 2006.
LPP ∇ How did you discover Light Painting Photography?
BMH ∇ staying up late, camping out with friends along a river in northeastern iowa.
LPP ∇ What was your first Light Painting Image?
BMH ∇ drawing a face with my cell phone.
LPP ∇ Film or Digital?
BMH ∇ both.
LPP ∇ Do you believe in aliens?
BMH ∇ i think the probability is high that life exists elsewhere in the universe – yes.
LPP ∇ What is your standard Light Painting Photography setup?
BMH ∇ camera, tripod, remote, pin lights, people, dark dark darkness.
LPP ∇ What is your favorite color?
BMH ∇ black.
LPP ∇ Who influences your Light Painting Photography work?
BMH ∇ the people who participate in making light drawings with me, other light artists, other artists in general.
LPP ∇ Who is your favorite Light Painting Artist?
BMH ∇ there are so many amazing light artists out there – both historically and currently practicing – but i’ve been really drawn to the work of tokihiro sato lately. His images are really amazing and i felt a connection with them immediately upon being introduced to them by a coworker.
LPP ∇ What is your favorite food?
BMH ∇ green curry chicken.
LPP ∇ Do you create in any other mediums other than light painting? If so what are they?
BMH ∇ ‘traditional’ photography, drawing [i love ink on paper], digital work, painting [infrequently] – basically any 2D medium i feel very comfortable with – not skilled in three dimensions.
LPP ∇ What is your favorite Light Painting Photography image that you have created?
BMH ∇ i really like ‘manhattan’s library’, as far as a single-shot light drawing goes.
and for the composite image light drawings, I suppose ‘dark water’.
gonna keep pushing the envelope in 2012, so keep your beadies peeled.
LPP ∇ What is your favorite Light Painting Photography image of another artist?
BMH ∇ pretty big fan of tokihiro sato’s ‘photo respiration #22’ [and the rest of his photo respiration series].
and I’ve always loved this image from french light artist, bruno mesrine.
LPP ∇ What is the most difficult part of Light Painting Photography?
BMH ∇ finding enough time to work on it.
LPP ∇ How do you get you Light Painting Photography work seen?
BMH ∇ well, the internet is pretty huge. i’ve also been lucky enough to show my light drawings in several gallery/museum group shows locally and internationally. but my favorite show i’ve been in so far was papergirl berlin back in 2009 [i think]. the work was submitted, shown in some large warehouse-like space for two weeks, then given away to people on the streets of berlin. free art – a beautiful idea.
LPP ∇ Do you sell your Light Painting Photography work?
BMH ∇ as far as ‘are they for sale?’ – yes. as far as ‘have you sold any?’ – no.
LPP ∇ Are you represented by a gallery?
BMH ∇ i am not.
LPP ∇ Where can we see more of your work?
BMH ∇ my facebook page [http://www.facebook.com/brianmatthewhart] is currently the largest repository of my light drawings [amongst other creative endeavors]. you can also check out my antiquated google site [http://sites.google.com/site/brianmatthewhart/] for a modest selection of work.
LPP ∇ What is your favorite quote?
BMH ∇ ‘i want to work in revelations, not just spin silly tales for money. i want to fish as deep down as possible into my own subconscious in the belief that once that far down, everyone will understand because they are the same that far down.’
jack kerouac in a letter to ed white (july 5, 1950)
LPP ∇ Who is your favorite artist?
BMH ∇ egon schiele.
LPP ∇ What is you favorite activity other than light painting?
BMH ∇ drawing.
LPP ∇ Tell me a good light painting story.
BMH ∇ went to a local beach to do some solo drawings in the lake one night. this semi-drunk homeless guy walks up to me as i’m tracing a boat in the water and asks me what I’m doing. i tell him about the process and he stands there as i complete the exposure. he then joins in for a few drawings over the next hour or so, we talk a bit about life and we go our separate ways. his name was jim and he was definitely the most random cohort i’ve had in making light drawings.
the drawing i was doing when jim approached me [you can just make out his silhouette on the right side of the frame as he stood there watching me]:
and here’s one of the drawings that jim and i did together:
LPP ∇ Tell me a nightmare light painting story.
BMH ∇ my friend andy and I were out just a couple / few weeks ago drawing on a golf course. we had just finished an exposure of this tree – outlining it in red – and he suggested we do another exposure of the tree with several colors, chosen at random / on the fly as the camera was exposing. we were setting up the shot / our cameras and it started to snow, so this was going to be the last shot that night. it was maybe like a 5-10 minute exposure and I heard both the click of the shutter when i opened it and the click of the shutter when i closed it – but when we were walking back to the car the photo wasn’t on the camera – it had somehow not written to the card. time for a new card or time for a new camera.
LPP ∇ Have you ever been arrested or ticketed for light painting?
BMH ∇ no.
LPP ∇ What do you say to people when they see you light painting and they ask “what the hell are you doing”?
BMH ∇ i tell them what i’m doing.
LPP ∇ Where do you find inspiration for your Light Painting Photography?
BMH ∇ everywhere.
LPP ∇ Who would you like to punch?
BMH ∇ bad people.
LPP ∇ Who would you like to kiss?
BMH ∇ sexy people.
LPP ∇ Why do you Light Paint?
BMH ∇ i’m fascinated by it. it’s the most interesting way i can currently think of to make images.
LPP ∇ What is your favorite time to shoot?
BMH ∇ late.
LPP ∇ What is your favorite subject to shoot?
BMH ∇ people [in general], people [interacting], structural interiors, geometric forms.
LPP ∇ Where is your favorite place to shoot?
BMH ∇ inside, friends’ houses / apartments, places i haven’t shot in before.
LPP ∇ If you could travel anywhere to Light Paint where would you go?
BMH ∇ anywhere there are a bunch of other light artists to collaborate with. of course, drawing the terracotta army in china would be an amazing experience.
LPP ∇ Have you ever invented a Light Painting Photography tool? If so what was it and how did it work?
BMH ∇ i have not.
LPP ∇ Do you ever get sick of explaining your work to people?
BMH ∇ never.
LPP ∇ How many times have you heard the work photoshop when someone was describing or asking about your work?
BMH ∇ never in describing [or at least i’ve never heard anyone use that word while describing my work], but people used to bring it up when asking about it in the past. i think more and more people are becoming aware of the technique – they’re becoming more informed – so it’s less often that i need to explain that there is no manipulation of my light drawings.
LPP ∇ What makes you happy?
BMH ∇ so many things.
LPP ∇ What makes you mad?
BMH ∇ willful ignorance, dishonesty, a closed mind.
LPP ∇ What part of Light Painting Photography do you enjoy the most?
BMH ∇ the relatively undiscovered territory; the ‘newness’ / freshness of the technique; the potential just waiting to be unlocked / discovered / exposed.
but you might say, ‘brian, people have been doing this for almost 100 years now’, and i might say, ‘yeah, but not like we’re doing it these days’. i don’t think we’ve even really scratched the surface of all the different ways you can make an image with a camera, and it’s a very exciting endeavor to undertake.
i also really like making strange new images with other people – so, the sometimes social aspect of the technique is a pretty big draw for me.
LPP ∇ What part of Light Painting Photography do you hate the most?
BMH ∇ waiting for the image to process in-camera [when shooting digital with a noise reduction filter].
LPP ∇ Do you have a website? If yes what is the address?
BMH ∇ http://www.facebook.com/brianmatthewhart
LPP ∇ What is Light Painting Photography?
BMH ∇ i could really go on for a while about this, but let me say that my idea of light painting is bouncing light off of objects and into the camera – indirectly lighting / painting the scene with white or colored light. i see my work, and the work of almost ever other light artist, as light drawings – directly shining light into the camera as a line-making technique. i think a lot of people out there label their work as light painting incorrectly – i don’t see the connection with making a bunch of lines with light and the idea of painting.
so, for my work at least, it’s very important to make this distinction – as far as communicating what i am trying to achieve with these techniques. i’m not trying to make an exquisite painting, i’m making drawings.
but tomato-potato, don’t know if it really matters with all the different names that images like the ones that this community creates are labeled with [light painting, light drawing, light writing, light art, light art performance photography, light graffiti, lightgraff, and on and on and on…].
to each their own.
LPP ∇ Give me some advice for anyone that might like to try Light Painting Photography.
BMH ∇ your light source is critical. your environment is critical. low low iso. try different aperture settings. don’t do what everyone else is doing. experiment. play. work with others. as much as your images can benefit from a bunch of planning, don’t forget to just open the shutter and see what you get. you’re working with light – educate yourself in optics and the physical properties of light – know your medium.
LPP ∇ Are you scared of the dark?
BMH ∇ yes.