How i came to Love Light Painting

Light Painting is a niche in Photography - I love it for many reasons.

Why photograph alone; Meet Light Painters around the World!

Looking back at my Light Painting history, I realize with all the pictures I took, all these amazing artists I was collaborating with I must be so old. Ok, I am old. For many years I have been light painting all by myself. This article shall tell you how I learned to love Light Painting so much. Here I would like to say thank you to all the friends and artists I met along my travels around the world. Before all this Covid19 madness I was lucky enough to travel the world and meet so many of you. Meeting other Light Painters is why I love Light Painting. Let me take you on a journey around the world to some of my personal Light Painting legends. Thank you to all right here through all of you I came to find my love for Light Art Photography.

Gunnar Heilmann Pala Teth

After a few encounters with other Light Painters in Germany, I went together with and for the first time ‘as’ Aurora Movement member to the Photokina. With the invite of Jan Leonardo Wöllert, I was super happy that one of my photos made it to be part of the international Light Art Exhibition. That was, where I got to meet a whole bunch of amazing artists from all around the world. Looking back today that was something super special that may not come along so easy anymore.

LightPainters meeting in Koeln Photokina Night

Meeting the most amazing Light Painters from all around the world at the Photokina 2016. Denis Smith alias Ball of Light, Iris Cebrian – Shyroii, Mart Barras, Darren Pearson alias Dariustwin, Bernhard Rauscher alias Lumen Man, and many more not in the picture.

LightPainters meeting Koeln Night Marcel Panne & DILIZ

Leaving the Photokina we went to an old factory place with Marcel Panne from Lichtfaktor, Pala Teth, Frodo alias Ãlvarez DKL – Children Of Darklightand, of course, Diliz, and many more. That night I got my first very special Portrait illuminated by Pala himself. The image was never finished, because of a not-to-be-mentioned incidence. (image above)

There it was: Collaboration + Travel

Since I was traveling on a regular basis for many years I wanted to see if where I go I find more Light Painters. Flicker and Facebook groups had people from all over the world. Meeting other like-minded should be possible.

After meeting some local Light Painters in Berlin I was making my way to Argentina. Back when I was planning my trip I was searching the LPWA database and I found two Light Painter to contact. Guess what we actually met at the Puente de la Mujer for a night-out joint photo session. Meet the local Light Painters in Buenos Aires in 2016.

Looking back all these years it is hard to believe it went so easy. But that’s when I got started to meet some more light painters to create together.

How i came to Love Light Painting

Meeting Light Painter Alejandro Montel

How i came to Love Light Painting

In early 2017 I went to LA, also to meet and try some collaborative light painting together with Darren Pearson. Well, it was super nice to meet Jordan and Darren again after meeting for the first time at the Photokina in 2016. Yet we did not get a chance to even start. Just when we arrived at the location we chose to play with the lights, heavy rains crossed our plans. No Light Painting happened that night, yet we had some amazing burgers to finish the night. Thank you for hanging out.
After that I realized; We did not take one light painting photo, but there was a creative connection that goes across the planet. I enjoyed so much meeting these two creatives sharing a great location with me. I will always remember and hold that experience dear.

How i came to Love Light Painting
How i came to Love Light Painting

Meeting Light Painter Darren Pearson alias Dariustwin in LA, 2017

Why i love Light Painting

After meeting some more Light Painters I think I got hocked to the collaborative effect of Light Painting. Maria Saggese organized an LPWA meetup with Sergey Churkin alias Chukos. If I am not mistaken there were about 45 Light Painter from all around the world. For the first time the idea of the LightPainters map was born together with Dan Roberts and I think also Rob Turney was right there.

How i came to Love Light Painting

LPWA – Light Painters meeting and sharing their knowledge resulting in joint Light Painting projects and experiments. (Rome, 2017)

Light Painting on white background

Portrait by Roy Wang right at the Walls of the Forbidden City in Beijing

Light Painting Forbidden city Beijing

Quickly it becomes clear. Every continent has now some Light Painters. I was in South America, North America, and Europe. Next was Asia.

After meeting Roy Wang in Rom I thought I reach out and try to meet up in Bejing. Next on my mind was to find out if I can meet also a long-time idol. To meet Yang Xiao would be amazing. On top of that, I reached out to Ninja Miko, and guess what. One trip and I got to meet all of them. In my wildest dreams, I would never have expected to make that possible. The chances that all would like to meet up with all of them – I could not believe it. Yet I did happen. I got to light paint together with all of them, and I got to light paint the Light Painters themselves. That’s why I love Light Painting. There I saw all around the world this wonderful community that is so open for creative collaborations no matter where they are from.

How i came to Love Light Painting
Light Painters - Gunnar Heilmann meeting Yang Xiao in Bejing

Yang Xiao in Bejing 2017

Miko Fiber optic light painting

Miko in Shanghai 2017

Light Painters - Gunnar Heilmann meeting Roy Wang in Bejing

Roy Wang in Beijing 2017

Pala Light Painting Belgium

Pala Paaala Pala Pala Paaala Paaaala Paaaaala Paaala – there was a recording of the chanting during the shot. What an experience.

One of the most amazing Light Painters there is Pala: “Light Painting is about having fun with friends.” Yes, that’s what it is about.

From then on it was not only me. From what I experienced everyone I met wanted more of what felt so nice. Creative Collaborations are what brings out the coolest photos. A bunch of full-grown men and women meet up to look for dark places. So crazy yet so cool. Let us meet in Belgium.

Belgium Light Painters Book

Who out there also has a copy of this legendary book?
Thank you DILIZ for materializing that.

Light Painting Collaboration

Testing new approaches, here I played with Dan’s prisms. What you see here is by far one of the most impressive shots I have ever ‘directed’. This shot is one of those collaborative efforts where mastery in skill and creativity came together. The location was really not that amazing yet we pulled off a super cool shot. Here we have the pleasure to see the work of massstreetart ,stabeulight and ciscolightpainting to perform their incredible calligraphic art. Reagan did the bodypainting on Buschi. Yanis from lightpaintingblog gave us this wonderful backlight. Thank you so much, guys the outcome is so cool. What an amazing result my grand exit of that weekend.

Light Painters meeting in Belgium LPU
Light Painting Belgium
Light Painters meeting in Belgium LPU
Light Painters Frodo anf Dan in Belgium
Light Painters meeting in Belgium LPU
Light Painters Cisco meeting Gunnar Heilmann

In 2018 traveling was still easy and plenty. Another time in Shanghai got me a second go on testing multiple things with Miko. Several more Meetups in China followed. Thank you very much, Miko! A friendship in light was started.

Light Painters Gunnar Heilmann meeting Miko in Shanghai
How i came to Love Light Painting
How i came to Love Light Painting

Once I got out there it started and has not ended just yet. Traveling is one thing, at the core, it’s about doing this with like-minded open, and creative people. So far most of the Light Painters around the world fit that description. If there is a creative connection you see others also make an effort. Yang Xiao came to Berlin and we went Light Painting in different locations. YES, that was super cool.

Yang Xiao in Berlin
Yang Xiao Fliegeberg Berlin
Light Painters Meteor Jam 2018 White Pocket Groupshot

Do you see where this is going?

Taking a photo just by yourself is one thing. To create together with friends is a very different thing. For the Love of Light Painting, everyone was looking for opportunities to meet. Dan Roberts started to organize the Light Painting / Meteor Jams. With some incredible luck and a little bit of clever organization, I managed to join in the last 3 meet-ups. Near Denver then White Pocket and then with Chris Bauer in the Pacific North West near Mount Rainier. It was so nice to see such an incredible landscape and so nice to meet all the American Light Painter.

Discussions about the LightPainters.com Map were just a matter of time that we started with that.

Light Painters Meteor Jam 2018 White Pocket
Light Painters Meteor Jam 2018 White Pocket Exploration

By that time I realized it’s not just the travel or the photo I come home with. It’s the experience one shares with others in the effort to accomplish an idea.

LightPainters MeteorJam @ WhitePocket USA
White Pocket Light Painting
LightPainters MeteorJam Dan Roberts Johnny and Gunnar Heilmann
White Pocket Drone Light Painting

In the end, we created collaborative images that nobody really believed, could be done the way I thought could work. We just did it. Zach Alan and I were so happy that the ideas worked out. Drone Light Painting of the very next level. There I was fully fallen into love with the process. The result has become just the proof of what a group of Light Painters can do together.

Drone Light Painting Gunnar Heilmann & Zach Alan Groupshot at the 2018 Meteor Jam White Pocket
Drone Light Painting Gunnar Heilmann Zach Alan

Three years in a row I went to the US over the summer and joined the local Light Painters community. So many great memories and awesome photos. During one of our European meetings, Dan and Reagan got engaged. The Engagement was a photo in which a whole bunch of light painters took part. So was I. During our last trip got a chance to witness the wedding as well as shoot a special photo for both of them at the Maryhill Stonehenge Memorial.

Maryhill Stonehenge Light Painting
Maryhill Stonehenge Light Painting

LightUpBerlin – Light Painters Meet-Up in October 2019

For all the travel I don’t want to forget to mention my strong ties to my local crew. Sven Gerard and friends have become my friends in Light and in the Night. So it was only logical that we build on our prior experiences and create the next meet-up but with a little more than just a meeting. We wanted an exhibition and talks and of course some light painting along the way. It all went so surprisingly well.

Consequently Sven Gerard and I organised Light Up Berlin together with Natalia Cerqueira, Marla and Erik, Bernhard Rauscher, Heinz-Jörg Wurzbacher, Garry Krätz, Dominic Ponce, Matti.

This became the most incredible Light Painting experience for me. 200+ enthusiasts from 20+ countries: photographers, artists, body painters, and enthusiasts immersed in creative collaborations, workshops, and performances. See the video as a heartfelt thank you from the organization and production team to everyone who helped and participated. Danke on behalf of all of us for the exchange, the talks, the exhibitors. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and stories, for exhibiting your light paintings, for the collective creations and the never-ending play and fun at the bunkers, the cylinder, the industrial areas, the forest, the theatre company, the stage. Light On! So many enthusiastic and happy people in one place, it was remarkable. My Love for this colorful Art Form. Thanks to all the people that join in for the light in movement.

Do you get it now? Why I love Light Painting, is because of you!

When life returns to some sort of normality I hope we can meet again and create sculptures of light and paint the night in all the colors of the rainbow. Go to LightPainters.com and look at the World Map of Light Painters. See who is around you and see if you can create something together. So far you can find more than 300 Light Painters from around the world. If you are not on it – create a profile and let me know!

This blog post was on my mind for a very long while and it’s my way to say thanks to all I met along the way, as well as an invitation for collaboration for all out there interested in the art form.

Cheers Gunnar

PS: there are so many episodes I just don’t have the proper documentation or pictures of 😉 this would be a 3km long post.

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