Light Painting in 5 Easy Steps

Light painting is a technique that Jonathan uses for both still life and portrait assignments. Global brands such as Coca-Cola, Heineken, Rimmel and Nespresso have all commissioned Jonathan for this distinctive style.

The light painting method involves using a small, portable light source so that the photographer can ‘paint’ the subject during a long exposure, giving experimental and unique results every time. Below is an easy guide for how you can create similar effects in your own photography.

What you will need:

A camera with manual settings, set up on a tripod

A darkened or blacked out area

A still life set up or model

A portable light source



  1. Set up in a darkened space as you will be shooting with shutter speeds varying from 2 seconds up to as long as your camera will allow.
  2. Position your subject and choose the appropriate lens for the focal distance and composition you require.
    For our live demonstration*, we are using a 100mm lens and our subject is approximately 1 metre away from the camera. We are shooting at IS0 64-100, f19, but you may want to experiment with this.
  3. Your subject must remain still throughout the duration of the exposure and make sure you have enough space so that you can continually move your light source around the subject.
  4. When the shutter is open, move the light source around the subject in order to ‘paint it’. You can experiment with evenly distributed gestures or wave the light on a particular area for longer to achieve extra illumination. For glassware or liquids, try illuminating the subject from behind to really make it glow.
  5. You may want to try several exposures and combine them in post-production for the perfect final image.


*Jonathan will be demonstrating his technique on The Live Stage at The Photography Show (Birmingham) on Saturday 17th March 2018, 3pm

If you can’t make the event, we will be streaming the demonstration on our Instagram @StudioKnowles






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