Accomplished light painting artist Chanette Manso captured some of her first light painting photographs in 1991 in the streets of Paris, France. In 1992 she moved to San Francisco where she produced light painting work for tech magazines such as Wired. During her time in San Francisco, Chanette also created light painting portraits for local newspapers including The Bay Guardian. She is best known for her light painting work that focuses on the human form. Chanette uses a variety of lights to create beautiful images of dancers, Indian icons, balancing acts, and more. In 1993, she was selected by the French National Center of Photography to perform light painting with the public in one of the biggest photography museums in Paris, the Palais de Tokyo. Chanette shoots her images on both film and digital. Early in her career she was sponsored by Kodak and Mazda flashlights. In 1998, four of Chanette’s images became part of Burning Man’s permanent art collection! She has published the first in her series of three books on the subject of light painting. Chanette currently resides in the south of France where she continues her studio work producing some exquisite light painting images. View some of Chanette’s images, read her full light painting photography interview below, and for even more information check out her website Chanettemanso.com.
Interview conducted by Jason D. Page in 2011
1. What is your name? Chanette Manso
2. Do you have an alias that you go by? Cha
3. Are you a soloist or are you part of a Light Painting group? If a group who is in your group? I’m a soloist, but in the beginning I worked as a team with my partner.
4. What education do you have? Degrees in Communication and Film
5. What is your occupation? Image maker (photographer/choreographer)
6. How long have you been a photographer? 20 years
7. How long have you been light painting? 20 years
8. How did you discover Light Painting Photography? By playing around with open flash, then dancing with lights on my fingers.
9. What was your first Light Painting Image? Dancing in the streets of Paris by night. Light graffiti in the train stations.
10. Film or Digital? Love film. Have been messing around with digital for a few years.
11. Do you believe in aliens? Not really.
12. What is your standard Light Painting Photography setup? Pentax 6-7 film camera, Digital camera, Tripod, light brushes of all sorts, sometimes fabrics.
13. What is your favorite color? Intense color.
14. Who influences your Light Painting Photography work? Street art and pop art.
15. Who is your favorite Light Painting Artist? Still getting to know them.
16. What is your favorite food? Fresh food.
17. Do you create in any other mediums other than light painting? If so what are they? Yes I also create stop motion films, UV choreographies and body paintings.
18. What is your favorite Light Painting Photography image that you have created? The one that touches the viewer in a way I haven’t thought of.
19. What is your favorite Light Painting Photography image of another artist? Their most personal ones.
20. What is the most difficult part of Light Painting Photography? Waiting for darkness.
21. How do you get you Light Painting Photography work seen? Galleries, Art shows, On-line, Publications, Press
22. Do you sell your Light Painting Photography work? Yes. Would like to sell more.
23. Are you represented by a gallery? I work with several galleries, none of which officially represent me.
24. Where can we see more of your work? chanettemanso.com
25. What is your favorite quote? Not sure I should post the first that comes to mind.
26. Who is your favorite artist? Yikes, can’t do that one.
27. What is you favorite activity other than light painting? Breathing.
28. Tell me a good light painting story.
29. Tell me a nightmare light painting story. Getting attacked by raccoons while setting up and waiting for dusk, in a forest near the beach.
30. Have you ever been arrested or ticketed for light painting? Not arrested but stopped while doing a fashion shoot at night in the streets of San Francisco.
31. What do you say to people when they see you light painting and they ask “what the hell are you doing”? It’s hype enough now that most people know about light painting. Otherwise they usually get the night postcard explanation.
32. Where do you find inspiration for your Light Painting Photography? Observing light in all ways and through inner search.
33. Who would you like to punch? I like this question.
34. Who would you like to kiss? TMI
35. Why do you Light Paint? Can’t do otherwise.
36. What is your favorite time to shoot? Summer nights.
37. What is your favorite subject to shoot? : Light and humans.
38. Where is your favorite place to shoot? In Studio.
39. If you could travel anywhere to Light Paint where would you go? Japan’s light festival.
40. Have you ever invented a Light Painting Photography tool? If so what was it and how did it work? It seemed at first all was invented. I remember attaching little lights to my fingers with a battery in my back, and this was pre LED.
41. Do you ever get sick of explaining your work to people? More or less.
42. How many times have you heard the work Photoshop when someone was describing or asking about your work? Many times and I invite them to reproduce what they see in light painting in photoshop any time.
43. What makes you happy? More eye candy.
44. What makes you mad? Not being able to create images.
45. What part of Light Painting Photography do you enjoy the most? The wait in between the actual light painting and the result on film. Now with digital that wait in shorter, but still present.
46. What part of Light Painting Photography do you hate the most? Dead batteries.
47. Do you have a website? If yes what is the address? chanettemanso.com
48. What is Light Painting Photography? A way to see movement through space.
49. Give me some advice for anyone that might like to try Light Painting Photography. Experiment.
50. Are you scared of the dark? Usually not.