Light painting photography as a way to memorialise a family heirloom

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I occasionally photograph the family heirlooms of other people. And one of these heirlooms belongs to a friend of mine. I met him while we were exhibiting together at a pop-up photography exhibition in a local gallery.

He told me a fascinating story about his family heirloom. It was a leaping Jaguar mascot from his dad's car - a car that was very dear to his dad's heart. These cars were only produced in 1960-1967. And this mascot was the only piece that he has got left from it.

His dad turned 77 years this year, and my friend wanted to gift something memorable to him. So, memorialising this piece in a photograph was a perfect present, which is why he asked me to work on it.

I always wanted to photograph it since my friend told me the story behind this piece, so it was a perfect occasion. Firstly, because I have always loved old things - things that have a history to them. And secondly, because it was a challenge for me personally as a photographer, as the Jaguar mascot has a chrome surface. And if you are a photographer yourself - you will understand how complex it can be to photograph a chrome piece like that. Especially using light painting technique without overexposing any part (i.e. making the image too bright, with very little detail in their highlights, and appearing washed out). The whole process took about 8 hours, including sketching, preparing the composition, photography and post-production.

Below you can see the sketch for this photograph. In a usual photography practice, photographers very rarely make sketches. But as I was studying as a painter when I was younger, the habit of sketching before doing any proper work remained with me for life.

fine art photography sketch

I spent a significant amount of time picking a suitable base for this jumping Jaguar. I was thinking about several options, including a wooden block and a plastic cube. But eventually, my choice was a natural stone, mainly as it felt that it was the most suitable material for a base for such a wild animal like a Jaguar .

light painting photography composition

As I invested a decent amount of time into the ground work for the photo session, the process itself went very smoothly and I managed to achieve the result that I wanted. For my composition I used the rule of thirds, i.e. placed the main points of interest along the lines that are the most natural and apealing to a human eye. The dynamics of the movement is from the bottom left to the top right of the image, which was why I left a bit of an extra space to the right so that the viewer could feel like the Jaguar is jumping into the darkness.

fine art light painting photography final result

This month, my friend presented this piece to his dad at the birthday gathering as a framed print. His dad was touched by such a present and loved the photo. He told a lot of stories about this Jaguar which was so dear to his heart.

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This print is not for sale as it was an exclusive work made for a special occasion, but if you'd like to see some of my artworks that are on offer as limited edition prints - please feel free to explore my store.
Or if you'd like to learn to photograph using light painting technique - you can book a free 30-minute call with me here.

Until next time,


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