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5 Light Painting Challenges that will boost your skills

5 Light Painting Challenges that will boost your skills

One of my favorites photographers, Henri Cartier-Bresson, once said: “your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.” 

Although this idea probably was more accurate at the time of film cameras, when to actually shoot and develop 10000 photos would take you some considerable amount of time, the point is clear. It takes time and effort to become better in just about everything. There are similar theories about the time it takes to become an expert on something or mastering a skill etc. One of the common requirements all of these has – Commitment.

Without committing to a goal, it is very hard to actually see progress. To put it in a different way, it is surely easier and faster to see some significant improvement when you commit to some goal. It’s never easy, but it’s worth it.

So here is a list of light painting challenges that if can help you boost your light painting skills, and in general your photography.


  1. Limit yourself

  2. Try different angles

  3. Tell a story

  4. Join Photo per Week Challenge

  5. Start A Photo per Day project


let’s see them one by one


1. Limit yourself

Nobody really likes limits, I know. But there is some natural thing with them. Once you have some limitation, you become more creative to overcome it.  Take for example learning to ride a bicycle. In the beginning, you are safe with those learning support wheels. But it’s not before those are off, that you actually can learn to ride. Limitation in many cases brings progress.

The Same principal applies to photography. Nowadays with DSLR cameras prices beeing affordable, you see so many people walking around with some quality equipment hanging on their necks. It’s been many times that people with more expensive equipment than mine came to me while I was light painting asking me how do I do that and telling me that they use auto mode…

So go bold.. put some limitations. No Auto mode for starters.. 😛 Here are some examples just to get you started. You can find much more yourself.

  • Using one lens only can be an easy start. Explore all the possible ways to create different images with one lens only.
  • Use only horizontal ( landscape ) or vertical ( portrait ). Train to see the differences.  
  • Use one light painting tool only. Only blades, only el wire, etc. Find  10 different ways to use the same tool.
  • Use one color only and still try to make the results different.

I believe you get the point…  Experiment!


2. Try different angles

Through my work, I have met some interesting people in the entertainment industry. One of them, Director of Photography for many films, Andreas Sinanos, once told me a story about when he was learning photography. His teacher took the whole class of 10 people to Acropolis in Athens, placed the camera in one spot and told them that each should take one photo from that particular location. They were free to choose their composition, direction,, only the position of the camera and its settings should be should stay the same. The result was 10 totally different images from 10 different persons. His point was, to show them that the most important part was the different perspective that each individual has…

So this can be your next challenge. Instead of staying stationary, do the opposite. Try different angles. Try to frame from lower or higher.. See the difference in the images you take. How does this affect the end result?  Go around your subject if your can. Find some more interesting point of view. Compare.

3.Tell a story

You probably heard the phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words“. And it’s true… That’s why photography is so important in storytelling.

Try to think a bit before you take a picture. Be more aware of what you want to say with this. Immediately you will see that you need to start to plan a bit what to do to achieve that what you want to say. If you need to, if that will make your point easier to get,  create a series. Tell a story.  It can be a fictional one. Or a person whose character you want to highlight. What can you do to achieve that?

As an example check this photo”New World Order” by Janne Parviainen. What does it tell you?

Janne Parviainen_NewWorldOrder


4. Join our Photo per Week Challenge

This is exactly why we started this Challenge here in Light Painting Blog. To activate people to get involved and improve their skills.  The photo per week challenge is a great way of starting this. You will be given each week a theme and you will submit your photos through Instagram with the hashtag #lpblogchallenge. The featured Artist of the month will be choosing a winner out of all submissions that will get his photo as Photo of the Week in our blog as well as our social media accounts.

Check this link for more info about our Photo Of The Week Challenge.


5. Start a Photo per day project

You can start small for a week or a month. If you feel confident enough and you know you can commit to it, there is nothing better than starting a 365 project( picture per day).

It might sound easy for some, but if you start you ‘ll see it’s way harder that it sounds. I would suggest that you try first some smaller challenge like a photo per day for a week or month and when you see you are up to take the step then go for it. One thing is for sure, this will skyrocket your skills.

One of the living examples for this is Tim Gamble. I noticed him in Flickr couple of years ago while he was doing his first 365-project. Obviously, the guy is talented too. But you if you check his pics from the beginning of this you can see how much his skills improved. You can see more of Tims work here.

Bonus challenge: Look at Art – Learn about Art –  Experience Art !!

This might have nothing to do with your skills as a photographer but it will definitely help you develop your own artistic vision.

Go to museums, to exhibitions, to galleries, follow artists you like. Look all kinds of art, not just photography. From sculptures to paintings, from contemporary to classic.. everything. Spend some time observing each piece. What does it tell you? How do you feel about it? What emotions does it wake? Why you are drawn to a specific piece rather than others? Try to imagine what the artist was thinking when he was creating that. What element would you take from an art piece or an artist? Asking yourself these questions and trying to understand them it will help you find your own style too.ow

Although I cannot stress enough the difference of experiencing in person the actual artworks I understand that there is not great museums and galleries everywhere. Even like this though, try at least when you travel to visit the local museum. Also nowadays some of the biggest museums and galleries have some parts of the exhibitions online too. Like said, its different that the real thing, but still its better than nothing!

Here are some links I found:

MoMA – Museum of Modern Art 


The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Guggenheim Museums

Museo del Prado

Museo National Centro de Arte Reina Sofia


I hope you enjoyed this “light painting challenges”. If you found this article helpful please consider sharing it. You can also subscribe in order to get updates on future interesting articles.


As always feel free to comment and let me know your thoughts and your experiences. Cheers!

About The Author

Jannis Sid

Jannis Sid aka Luplof is a greek Light Painter based in Helsinki Finland. Working for 20 years in the entertainment industry as a light designer he has developed a special relationship with light. Light painting since he moved to Finland in 2010, more actively since 2015. In 2017 he founded the LightPaintBox and started this blog.

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