“Light art is like [being] the nocturnal Indiana Jones of photography,” Pearson jokes. When he finds the right location, Pearson adds illustrative light images that are “often humorous and sometimes spooky,” he says.
While there are many physical obstacles that come with working in the dark, light painting has also become a tool to overcome challenges. For many light painters, it is a form of art therapy and expression. For Steven Erra, it’s a way to overcome his sight impairment. Erra is legally blind and one of the founding artists of a group of visually impaired photographers known as the Seeing with Photography Collective.
Erra discovered his passion for light painting during a photography class for people with sight impairments. He was drawn to the tactile nature of light painting that allowed him to use his hands to construct a scene out of props and people. The hands-on nature of the art gives people with sight impairments a way to build something without seeing.
The members of this class, with varying levels of vision, formed the collective and together proved that lack of sight and visual art are not mutually exclusive.
The collective acts as an artistic outlet, a social group, and a way for some members to see using their imaginations. For the completely blind members, for example, a sighted group leader describes their artwork to them, allowing the artists to delve into their minds and mentally picture the image.