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The story you want to tell – Adding life to your photos

The story you want to tell – Adding life to your photos


Regardless of all the visual beauty and innovation in light painting lately it is still very often lacking one critical factor; the story. As being a photographer, I would think telling the audience something with your photos is something you feel strongly about. In my opinion, the stories the pictures tell, are the main reason they even exist. It’s the will to change the world, to help others see things they’d otherwise miss, that’s been the major motivation for me to become an artist.


Why you need a story


If we want to tell the world something, we must have a story. Even an abstract photo can have something to tell, these things don’t cancel each other.

I understand that in light painting the tricky part is you have to master your medium very well before it’s even possible to start properly expressing yourself with it. I’m hoping to make a point not to settle for the simple satisfaction of creating visual tricks when you could do so much more with the medium. The way we observe and analyze images you don’t need much to start the imagination running wild. All we need is that little nod, a hint of what might be happening next or what has already happened and the image has become far more than just a quick visual delight.

For years I have heard comments about light painting being a mere party trick or something to do with sparklers on a New Year’s Eve, so maybe it’s time we show what there really can be done with the medium. It is time we can start calling light painting a real art form with thousands of talented artists and a wide range of techniques. But to really get there we must have something to say.


Revealing the story


So next time you’re waving steel wool behind your model or lighting up car wrecks, think what is it you would like to tell first.

Are you feeling sad, bursting with endorphins, or joy to the world? How does it look like? How does a broken heart look like? How would a model be posing for that? What little nuances in the color of the photo or the models’ appearance affect how your photo makes the viewer feel? Don’t just stick to what you know or have seen others do, think outside the box, challenge yourself and embrace all the crazy ideas you’ve always had but never bothered to try!


In this photo titled ‘Bedtime Story’ I wanted to tell of the power of imagination. I placed the models close to each other to create a feeling of caring and intimacy and of the safe environment, the fairytales are experienced in. Even though the bedtime story has taken the characters far into an outer space, the door in the background reminds of a safe passage back to the bedroom.

Now imagine how this photo would change if the adult would be clearly further from the children? Or if one of the two kids would be further away from the others? Would it make the situation feel unsafe if the door would be much further in the back? The little nuances can make a big difference in how the image is perceived.


Making good art is simple. It is not the camera gear you use, it is not about how elaborate tools you have or where you are shooting, it is what you have to tell. Your living room can be a lost Atlantis or a puddle in your yard can be a new universe, it’s all there if you just let it free!

About The Author

Janne Parviainen

Janne Parviainen is a light artist from Helsinki. His work has been featured in various magazines, books and art blogs such as The National Geographic, The Guardian, Daily Mail, Wired, Juxtapoz, Spiegel Online, Metro Newspaper. Janne has worked with well-known brands such as Adobe Systems Inc., Olight and Nippon Television producing high-level artistic material for commercial use. His work has been on display globally on exhibitions, light art festivals and museums. In his light art Janne Parviainen studies the possibilities of spaces and dimensions by creating topographic maps with light and by incorporating illuminated forced perspective drawings with light painting.

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