Light Painting Process: Step 1 - Sketching. An uncommon practice for photography.

sketching for light painting photography

In one of my previous blog articles, I spoke about what makes Light Painting photography so magical. I also listed the main 5 steps that go into the process I'm using:

  1. Sketch
  2. Composition & Camera set up
  3. Photography process
  4. Post-processing
  5. Print

And today, I'd like to talk a bit more about the first step, i.e. sketching.

Sketching is a relatively uncommon practice for photography. It is mainly due to my drawing/painting background why I am personally a big advocate of a good sketch. I used to study painting and drawing in my teenage years before I even started my photography career.

So, why would you even want to make a sketch for a photograph, especially when using light painting technique?

  • The first benefit of this is that it can be helpful to transfer a composition that was born in your imagination into a piece of paper. It can help you to see more vividly the disposition of the objects in your potential photography composition, how the objects of different sizes and shapes would look together. 
  • Second benefit is that the sketch can help to estimate all the various directions of the light and the effect of this on the composition, and decide where the main light is falling from and which parts of the composition remain in shadow. For example, there is one school of thought in photography - that light and shadow should be following each other to create more harmony - i.e. if you are following the image from left to right, a photograph where light and shadow are alternating each other can be perceived as a more harmonious one by a human eye.
  • And finally, you can even use sketching to add some extra notes to the sketch to signify which colours would be in which parts of the composition. This can help to plan out the overall palette of the image. For example, one of the approaches in photography is that you place warm tones/colours at the front of the image and highlight them by placing cold shades at the back. This effect will give more contrast to the overall image and will make the main object of the composition really stand out.

All this helps to build the composition and polish it off. And sometimes it is easier to adjust what you want on a piece of paper compared to when placing the objects together.

But even if you don't have a clear picture of the composition in your mind, sketching can help you shape your ideas properly. For example, when I started working on "Maze", I wasn't 100% sure what the final result would look like. However, when I started sketching it, I decided to go with a central triangular composition with 2 driving circles within. It all fell in place only when I put it on a piece of paper. A sketch also helped me to decide where the main light will be falling from and even how to crop the image.

maze sketchmaze final image

Today, we spoke about the benefits behind sketching for light painting photography. Hopefully, you found it useful and if you are a photographer you may give this a try in your next work.

Would you like to see some of the artworks that I've done in the past?
Feel free to visit my online store here. 

Are you a photographer who would like to learn more about the technique?
Book a free 30-minute call with me on Calendly.

And if you'd like to follow along my journey and learn more about what light painting is all about - let's connect on Instagram(@photoportrayal_studio), Facebook or Pinterest - I will be happy if you reach out and say hello.

Until next time,



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