I had the pleasure yesterday of attending a presentation by Patrick Rochon, also known as Patrick the Light Painter. There are many ways to express one’s creativity in photography and Patrick has chosen light as the medium for his expression. You might wonder what’s unique about that, since every photographer uses light. It’s how he uses it that sets him apart.
Over a career of more than 20 years, Patrick has used light to convey texture, depth and motion to a variety of subjects, including human models in the studio, natural forest settings, high end vehicles, athletes and celebrities. In all cases, light is used to complement or enhance the subject, revealing something unexpected.
Most recently, however, Patrick has turned his attention to more abstract expressions of art through light. He has developed a painting technique that he describes as his “kata” (or “form” from the Japanese). Using fluid body and arm motions with a variety of tools that he has created, he paints shapes and ribbons of light, in a variety of colours, in a mix of relationships, and photographs those motions.
Long exposure photography presents the opportunity to single-handedly introduce light of different intensities, shapes and colours into a scene, in a way very similar to the way a painter creates a masterpiece on canvas. Each stroke is added separately and in sequence, but the camera combines them all into a single image. The artist’s craft is to know what colours, what sequence and what intensities work well together. But it’s also science, as the artist must understand light as both pulse and wave, and know how it interferes and interacts with itself. Patrick has definitely extended the bounds of both art and science in this area.
Photography as art is the subject of energetic debate both inside the profession and out. At the end of the day though, it’s about what inspires the artist and what provokes an emotional reaction in the audience. I love this form of expression.