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Experimental Light Painting Self-Portraits



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.”










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.