Lightpainting: Tips, Tricks, and Secrets revealed

Since 22+ people blog readers on this popular post addressing whether or not I should share my light ‘secrets,’ new photographer Chris Huri received a complimentary personal mentoring session via phone. Whoop whoop!

To share with you what we spoke about, I recorded our 30-minute Q&A addressing his top ten questions about my photography. A summary of responses here (full responses shared in the video below):

1. Are you creating your “light painting” imagines in camera, or with post work?
Both. I try to nail it all in camera, which clients love to see on the back of the camera. However, I composite in Photoshop sometimes in case something didn’t turn out the way I was hoping.

2. Would you be able to point me in the direction of what tools create such beautiful, clean looking light painting? (LED flashlights, Glow Sticks, Etc)
Spend time at your local Home Depot or REI, not Adorama or B&H. The law of diminishing returns stands strong when it comes to lightpainting tools. $30 video lights or $10 LEDs work wonders.

3. I have been using my Speed Flash during my long exposure shots to expose my subject . I have basically been shooting a 15 or 30 second exposure, popping my speed light at the beginning of the exposure, and trying to create the light trail with the remaining time left on the exposure. Am I on the right track with this?
Yippers. However, full power pops with a large strobe diffused with a softbox or beauty dish will ensure a second set of hands or blurring eyes don’t creep into your work.

4. When you are working with a couple, what are some ways your able to get them to be so comfortable and willing to just interact and have fun with the camera?
Laugh at yourself and ensure your clients know this is part of the creative process. You both feed off each other and that’s when it becomes a collaborative (lightpainting) project.

5. What are some good tips that might help me learn to network better and create more job opportunities for myself?
Spread the love and it will come back ten fold.

6. Are there any books or websites you would recommend that have helped you with your photography on either the creative side or the business side?
Dusty art books and anything by Seth Godin or Sean Low.

7. Lately I have been trying to get out at least once a week alone and shoot some pictures, It doesn’t matter where, I just like to get out and shoot. Do you find yourself out alone shooting for just the experience?
Solitude and personal projects are a beautiful thing. I complete several each year.

8. What is your “go to” diffuser for your off-camera lighting setups: soft box, octobox, or beauty dish?
Go big or go home, but no matter what: KEEP IT SIMPLE. While a five-foot Octabank provides pretty light, a beauty dish is more compact and won’t blow over. But a single speedlight can be beautiful thing, too. It’s not how big it is, it is how you use it… Isn’t that what she said?

9. Who inspires you to work harder, learn more, and become a better photographer?

  • On working hard: While I’m all about that, I’m more about working SMART. I’m a self-starter, so I motivate myself with encouragement from family and friends.
  • On learning more: If continuing education is important for a doctor, its gotta be important for a photographer or artist. Take at least one workshop per year (preferably out of state) then follow my tips on how to get the most out of a photography workshop.
  • On becoming a better photog: You are either getting better or worse. There is no such thing as hitting a plateau. Back yourself into a creative corner and think yourself out. If you don’t scare yourself into creating an important photo, repeat.

10. I currently work a full time job as a photographer/artist relations assistant. I find myself leaning towards being a full time working photographer but am struggling with the mental aspect of not having that steady paycheck, do you have any suggestions or tips for starting out in the free lance realm?
Follow the adage: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Read Laurence Kim’s thoughts on the pursuit of photography for love or money.

To see and hear my detailed responses to each of the questions posed above, watch the full video here :

Want more specifics? While in 30-minutes we explored answers to 10 important questions in-depth… imagine what we can cover during an 60-minute mentoring session in person !?!?

Contact me to learn more about personal mentoring. Sessions start at $150/hour with no holes barred and all questions answered.

*** Stay tuned on Friday for a big announcement regarding new tutorials on lightpainting***

17 Responses to “Lightpainting: Tips, Tricks, and Secrets revealed”

  1. Rachel Darley — April 14, 2011 @ 9:24 am (#)

    RJ, you seriously rock. THANK YOU.

  2. Kerinsa — April 14, 2011 @ 10:04 am (#)

    so glad you decided to share! teaching others can only lift up the industry. 🙂

  3. Mr. Hori — April 14, 2011 @ 11:34 am (#)


    Thanks you so much for taking the time to share with me and all the other people that are checking this out! The rest of 2011 will be a fun filled, exciting adventure and I cannot wait to take the tools that you shared with me and run to the moon with them.


  4. Marci Johnson — April 14, 2011 @ 5:38 pm (#)

    Thanks RJ!!! That’s so awesome, can’t wait to try!

  5. becky g. — April 15, 2011 @ 7:25 am (#)

    Great post! Thanks you!

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  7. Scott Stebner — April 21, 2011 @ 7:09 am (#)

    RJ, We are loving that you are doing video now! We love your blog posts, but your passion and natural enthusiasm is so much more evident in video! Hope you are doing amazingly well!

  8. Brooke — April 22, 2011 @ 8:41 pm (#)

    I know I’m behind in reading this, but I really wanted to have some time to read and watch. This is awesome, thank you so much for sharing! I think it’s definitely something that my son would love to experiment with too!

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