PetaPixel

Experimental Light Painting Self-Portraits

deforest3

Self-portraits aren’t exactly ground-breaking — in fact, the word “selfie” was recently added to the dictionary — but Alex DeForest‘s self-portraits are anything but ordinary. His interesting creations mix light painting techniques with self-portrait photography to create some pretty cool results.

We caught up with DeForest via e-mail, and he gave us a little insight into how he creates his experimental portraits:

For most of my self portraits I sat on an ice chest in a small spare bedroom full of boxes and shelves. Typically I line up my shot first, get the focus, then put my remote on the floor so I can trigger it with my big toe. Maybe there is an easier way but I have fun.

I buy cheap flashlights at Walgreens, grocery stores, wherever. Often I buy fiber optic toys, disassemble them, and then connect them to flashlights to experiment. Occasionally I use pieces of acrylic and glass or even colored plastic handled cooking instruments.

The artist who inspired him to experiment the way he does include Patrick Rochon and Aurora Crowley, both of which were featured on PBS back in 2011. Rochon in particular made our list of 10 light painting photographers you should start following right now.

You might imagine that some of these photos took some serious planning, but for the most part, DeForest enjoys just “winging it,” so to speak. “I generally prefer a more spontaneous approach,” he says, “[I] just paint in the moment.”

deforest1

deforest5

deforest4

deforest7

deforest8

deforest6

deforest9

deforest10

deforest11

Obviously this one isn't a self-portrait, but it's one of DeForest's favorite shots, and one we were eager to share.

Obviously, this one isn’t a self-portrait, but it’s one of DeForest’s favorite shots.

Most of the photos featured here are part of his headshot series, which focused primarily on “dramatic abstractions of emotion.” Some of his other, non-headshot work makes the same use of fiberoptic toys and flashlights to create similar effects using instruments or old cameras instead of people.

To see more from DeForest, be sure to visit his website or check out his Flickr photostream by clicking here.


Image credits: Photographs by Alex DeForest and used with permission.


 
  • Alex Minkin

    thats extraordinarily cool, very creative and well done concept

  • Jordan Butters

    Fantastic effect! His description leaves me wondering how these are achieved still. One exposure, or multiple? How does he remain so still whilst moving the light?

  • http://www.KenFlan.com/ Ken

    Rad!

  • Dave

    “Self-portraits aren’t exactly ground-breaking” What an extraordinarily condescending way of introducing something beautiful and creative.

  • Alex DeForest

    All images are one exposure, and the staying still part takes practice. : )

  • Dave

    Maybe petapixel could introduce every article with “photography isn’t exactly groundbreaking…. but”

  • Alex Minkin

    replying condescendingly to an article started condescendingly isn’t exactly groundescendingcon…ugh, i’m all tongue tied

  • Jordan Butters

    Thanks for replying Alex. Staying perfectly still whilst hitting yourself in the face with fibre optics is a rare skill :D

  • Mark

    How are you moving the lights, or do you have an assistant? These photos are beautiful.

  • Alex DeForest

    No these are all done solo. Thanks