Light Painting Photography

Light Painting Photography

Light Painting Photography is a unique and very complex type of photography that utilizes long exposures with specially modified LED lights. Joannie & I also add lighting from high speed strobe lights too. The goal is to create a series of images of a stationary subject at one location illuminated from many different angles.

Many items can be successfully light painted. The subjects that really stand out in light paintings are, cars, motorcycles, fire trucks, airplanes, food, buildings, machinery, both large and small, and tiny items like jewelry.

The completed look of my light painted Coca-Cola products.

My completed Light Painting!

The World’s Only Light Painting Wedding Photographers

Joannie and I have taken light painting photography to the next level. We’re creating most of our light painted photographs with people in the image! The subject that we’ve really excelled at in recent months is creating light painting photography at weddings. 

Why weddings? Well, wedding photography has always been one of our photographic specialties. We have always strived to be on the cutting edge in our wedding photography, it keeps us fresh and excited about what we’re creating for our couples.

Dare To Be Different

Here’s a couple of examples of our attitude towards creating unique wedding photography for our newlyweds. Back in the early 90’s, we were the first wedding photographers in the Midwest to put panoramas in our wedding albums, more than fifteen years before it became common place. Our wedding albums back then would also contain custom pages that we built ourselves. These special pages had images of unusual sizes that were unheard of in a wedding album design.

Light Painting at Weddings

Fast forward to 2016. During the summer of 2016, we had three weddings that were held in beautiful locations that also looked great at night. Landmark Center in downtown St. Paul, MN, and The Saint Paul Hotel also in Saint Paul, MN. The third was at the historic Grand View Lodge, a very pretty destination wedding spot in Nisswa, MN.

At all three, I decided to try something different. Instead of just taking a “normal” nighttime wedding photograph, I thought I would light the scene after the couple left the photograph and returned to their reception. I knew it would be a lot of work in post production, but I thought that it might look pretty cool. So we gave it a try.

I was totally unaware that what we were creating actually had a name. We were actually light painting!

Light Painting Photography at a Grand View Lodge Destination Wedding

We created our very first wedding photography light painting in July, 2016. It was at Luke and Ashley’s destination wedding at the historic Grand View Lodge in Nisswa, MN. The location for what turned out to be our very first light painted wedding photograph was at a pretty waterfall in front of the Glacial Waters Spa.

Stunning nighttime wedding photo of the groom and his bride with her veil flowing in the breeze. Wedding photo taken at a waterfall and pond at Grand View Lodge in Nisswa, MN.

Light Painting of Luke and Ashley at the pond by the Glacial Waters Spa.

It was after sunset, and we set up the tripod in the dark, using a cell phone light to assist us in locking focus on Luke and Ashley. After we captured the images we needed of them, they returned to their dance. Then I ran around and lit the pond, rocks and trees with one of our strobes with Joannie firing the camera. Back in the studio, I would combine all of the exposures into one light painted wedding photograph.

Light Painting Photography at The Saint Paul Hotel

Our next wedding photography light painting occurred during Nick & Brooke’s wedding reception at The Saint Paul Hotel. The pretty hotel garden, and the historic hotel itself, served as the backdrop for our couple.

Light painted nighttime photo of the bride & groom in the gardens during The Saint Paul Hotel wedding reception.

Light painted nighttime wedding photo of Nick & Brooke.

Just one week later, at Branden & Janna’s beautiful Landmark Center wedding, we took our newlyweds across the street into Rice Park.  We photographed them in front of the large fountain there with Landmark Center in the background.

A fun nighttime wedding photo created by light painting with strobe lights. Photo of the bride and groom at Rice Park in downtown Saint Paul, MN. (after)

Light painting with Branden & Janna at Rice Park (after).

Because we humans cannot possibly hold totally still during long exposures of 10, 20 or 30 seconds or more, Joannie & I create our Light Painted Wedding Photographs primarily with strobe lights instead of long exposures with LED’s.

Once the subject has been placed, nothing is allowed to move until all of the exposures have been made. The resulting images, sometimes well over one hundred of them, are combined and painted into a single, unique image that highlights the subject in a way that is simply not possible with any other lighting style or technique. Light Painted Photographs almost take on an 3D appearance, they’re that cool.

Nobody Else Is Doing This At Weddings

Joannie & I are part of very small, select group of photographers worldwide that employ this type of image creation in our photography. I have been mentored by John Hartman, one of the finest light painting photographers in the world. We’ve totally caught “the light painting bug.”

We have done extensive Google searches for Light Painted Wedding Photography, Wedding Photographers Who Light Paint, Wedding Photography Light Painting, Light Painted Wedding Photos, and other search terms. To our knowledge as of 2016, Joannie and I are the only full scene light painting wedding photographers in the world.

Our hope is to add it too other types of portraits as well. Recently, we’ve already done our first light painted engagement portraits, and I can easily see us creating light painted high school senior portraits, and maybe light painted family portraits in the future as well.

We even light painted both of our sets for The Best Santa Experience this year! Here’s the before light painting of “Santa’s Workshop”:

One of our 2017 sets called "Santa's Workshop." This is the set prior to light painting it for The Best Santa Experience.

Our “Santa’s Workshop” set before light painting it for The Best Santa Experience.

And the “after” light painting:

A baby boy and his big sister taking a look at Santa's naughty and nice list at The Santa Experience in Santa's Workshop. The scene was enhanced by light painting parts of it.

Riley and Ryder take a peek at Santa’s naughty and nice list!

The before light painting of our “Storytime With Santa” set:

One of our 2017 sets called "Storytime With Santa." This is the set prior to light painting it for The Best Santa Experience.

Our “Storytime With Santa” set before light painting it for The Best Santa Experience.

…and the “after” light painting:

More Storytime with Santa portraits for The Best Santa Experience. Santa shares a little "pixie dust" with an adorable one month old baby girl.

Santa shares a little “pixie dust” with sweet little Elizabeth.

Virtually anything that is three dimensional can be light painted. A light painted photograph is a stunning piece of art that will be appreciated for generations to come.

We’re also in the early stages of creating a dedicated website just for Light Painting Photography that can be found at:

Light Painting Photography Q&A

Q: What items can be light painted?
A: Any item, from the smallest piece of machinery or jewelry to a fairly large building, can be light painted. Some of the endless possibilities are shown in our galleries, but it can be literally anything.

Q: How do I make something cool like this happen?
A: You’ll meet with us to discuss your subject and ideas and to plan the photo shoot in more detail. The shooting location might have to be scouted ahead of time to find the best angles and viewpoint for your image creation. Once that is done, a shoot date can be scheduled.

Q: How long does it take to shoot a light painting?
A: The time it takes to create a light painting will vary depending to the size and complexity of the subject and the size and scope of the location. Typically, it takes anywhere from two to four hours to complete your light painting.

Q: What will it cost to do my light painting?
A: Since every light painted subject and it’s location is unique, the time and expense needed to complete the process is determined by it’s complexity. In-studio projects start at $300, while on-location photo shoots that require travel, scouting, and pre-planning will be more. The light painting session fee is independent of any printed images that you order.

Q: When will the finished image be ready for me to see?
A: Your finished photograph is typically ready to view within 3 to 5 working days after the photo shoot. The beautiful printed versions that you select after seeing the finished image will be ready in 2 to 3 weeks.

Q: Can I get a gift certificate towards one of these?
A: Yes, gift certificates are available by contacting us by phone or by using this contact form. Gift certificates may be purchased for the photo shoot alone or for any amount over that, with the unused balance applied towards the purchase of photographs.

Q: How can I find out more?
A: We will be happy to answer any questions that you may have; just call us at 763-785-1177. You may also visit the studio to talk with us personally and see printed examples on display here. There is no charge for this visit. Please call ahead for an appointment. We look forward to working with you to create the photograph of a lifetime!

“Light Painting Photography” – © 2018 Michael Anderson Photography.