Recently University of Richmond senior, photography club president, and avid light painter Laura DelPrato decided to introduce her fellow photographers to the world of light painting by holding a workshop with two radical light painting artists Jeremy Jackson, a.k.a Tacky Shack and Aaron Bauer, a.k.a. Dr. Tongs! The workshop turned out to be a great success with over 50 participants, hundreds of new light paintings being created, and no doubt a few new light addicts being born. I caught up with Laura to see what was behind this workshop and as you will read her motivation, light painting aspirations, and personal achievements are pretty damn inspiring.
LPP ∇ So Ms. Laura Congratulations on a super successful light painting workshop tell me a little about yourself. What do you do at the University of Richmond, are you a student, teacher, or something else?
LD ∇ Thank you Jason! The workshop was so much fun! I am currently a senior at the University of Richmond (UR). I will graduate in May with a double major in Leadership Studies and French, and a minor in Physics. I am also President of the UR Photography Club and a kickboxing instructor and fitness assistant at our university wellness center.
LPP ∇ How long have you been light painting and how did you get started?
LD ∇ I have been light painting since I learned about it as a night photography technique in my photography class during my Sophomore year of high school. That makes it about 6 years. I learned on film and fell in love with the light painting process. In the best image from my first roll of light painting film, I dressed up as Cinderella and had my mom and brother create a light spiral around me with a flashlight. I was fascinated by the magical possibilities so I continued to light paint after that whenever I could!
LPP ∇ What was your inspiration to bring a light painting workshop to the University of Richmond?
LD ∇ I wanted to bring a light painting workshop and presentation to the University of Richmond to share the magic of light painting with everyone in the UR and Richmond community. Ever since the formation of the Light Painting World Alliance (LPWA), I have been trying to figure out ways I can contribute to the promotion of the art form and I decided that my best approach was to use the resources I have as a college student. I decided to write a thesis that introduces light painting to the academic world and the workshop was a practical component to supplement my written material. I had initially wanted to host an exhibition in one of the campus museums but they were already booked a few years out.
LPP ∇ Who was involved?
LD ∇ Initially, it was just me working on organizing the workshop with direction from my thesis adviser, Dr. Kristin Bezio and support from Maja White, my former stage lighting professor. Maja was the one who encouraged me to try to organize an exhibition and Dr. Bezio helped me transform my light painting passion into a thesis project. Later, I gained support from Jeremy Jackson, Aaron Bauer, and UR Photo Club. We were honored to receive funding for the event from the UR Cultural Affairs Committee. I would also like to give a shoutout to our DJ Nick Yeutter, “Yites”, who is also a student at UR.
LPP ∇ How did you select Jeremy and Aaron as the artist for the workshop?
LD ∇ I went to the Light Painting World Alliance website and looked for light painters in Virginia. I saw Jeremy and recognized him from Flickr, so I sent him an email asking if he would be interested in bringing light painting to the UR campus. Jeremy was very enthusiastic and said he was willing to help in any way he could! Aaron was actually a surprise! Jeremy mentioned that he had an associate, but I didn’t realize his associate was an established light painter! I found out as we were getting close to the event so I didn’t have the ability to change the flyers. However it was a pleasant surprise for everyone at the presentation and workshop.
LPP ∇ How many people were at the workshop?
LD ∇ There were about 40 to 50 people at the workshop and there were around 60 people at the presentation.
LPP ∇ How long was the workshop?
LD ∇ The workshop was two hours long.
LPP ∇ What was the most difficult part of organizing the workshop?
LD ∇ This was my first time organizing an event, so most of the process was challenging! It was particularly difficult to find a dark spot on campus. Luckily, the university electricians were very helpful and agreed to turn off lights for the workshop part. As for the presentation, we had to deal with some ambient light from exit signs but it turned out okay!
LPP ∇ What was the best part?
LD ∇ The best part of organizing the light painting workshop and presentation was the ability to meet so many new people and share the magic of light painting with them. I loved seeing the expression on their faces when they realized their ability to create really neat images. It feels great to be part of such an engaging and interactive event!
LPP ∇ What was the general reaction of the Participants? Did they get it right away or was there a learning curve?
LD ∇ From what I observed, the participants had a great time! Most of them understood light painting concepts right away, and were eager to try out the light tools! If they did not understand something during the presentation, they weren’t afraid to ask questions, which is great. I think they learned a lot more that way! It seems that a lot of them are interested in learning about how to create light painting tools so that is something to keep in mind for the future.
LPP ∇ Anything wild happen that you would like to share?
LD ∇ Well, as my UR Photo Club members would say, we are officially in a light painting with two “ghosts” 😀
LPP ∇ Do you plan to do anymore?
LD ∇ I would love to do more! I think it is a great team building experience that allows you to develop new skills while having fun. Hopefully UR Photo Club will host another workshop next year and will invite all three (Jeremy, Aaron, and me) of us back! My dream is that eventually light painting will be taught at the college level so I see this as the first step to introducing it to the academic world.
Here is a cool video of the event produced by Stephen Blue: