This is how I photographed my emotions with light painting

Tips & Techniques

I saw a post from a fellow light painter that grabbed my attention. It implanted itself into my brain and I haven’t been able to let go of it. He pondered “We know that by looking at painters brush strokes how they were feeling at a certain time. In light painting, we “paint” with light. I would be curious to see if emotion could be shown in the brush strokes of light painting too.”

My response was that I don’t think you could necessarily capture individual strokes of light and not that much detail from the light itself. But from someone with experience with Light Painting, you can most definitely factor in different variations of speed used and flow for sure, from one’s understanding about light painting just from looking at an image.


I think the overall creation is more of an accurate representation of an emotional state of mind for an artist within their light painting. If you know what to look for, the stories are easy to find.


So, I’ve thought a lot about this. So much so, that what better of a time than now, with me dealing with so many different emotions from my broken marriage. If you really look at an image from any artist you can definitely see emotion. With someone technical with a lot of symmetry, that person usually is more of a critically minded individual versus someone with a lot of free-flowing shapes thinks about things a little differently and is maybe more free-spirited.

Alone or loneliness

There really is so much you can read and learn from an image about an individual just from what you are seeing them create if you learn to see the details. This most definitely is a representation of emotion either in that moment of time or of an individual in general.

Broken or Sad

I thought about how you could transfer emotion into light. That someone seeing that light within an image could definitively know the exact emotion without being told what that emotion was. I don’t think a solid color used within an entire frame could give a sense of emotion because a solid color of light would give the person viewing your image an emotional response to what they depict from your image not from what the person creating the image is saying through light.

Anger or Grief

This made me think how important color really is and how its a direct correlation to emotion if you want to share something voiceless but seen directly for the emotion that it is.


Our brains are wired to color. It is a way of a direct response to sharing through light emotion without words. Basically in order to share an image that depicts a particular emotion, variations in the speed of your light source and most definitely color are a huge contributing factors to mood, whether that’s through shadowing or brightness of light.

Shock or Fear

These are my creations putting this theory to the test and to my surprise, people have actually been pretty accurate with the emotion I was simulating.


All light painting tools used were from Light Painting Brushes and Coast flashlights. The camera used was a Canon EOS 6D with the Sigma 24-105mm f/4 Art lens.

Peace or Balance

About the Author

Jason Rinehart has been light painting since 2004, although he didn’t take it seriously until several years later and is now a Light Painting Brushes ambassador and Guinness Book of World Records holder. You can find out more about Jason and follow his work on Facebook and Instagram. Images used with permission.

[Lead image title: Trust or Love]

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