My name is Roy Wang and I live in Beijing, China.
I’m 33 years old and, as well as light painting, I’m also interested in music, painting and travel as my other hobbies.
How did you get started in light painting?
After graduating from college in 2009, I became a professional rugby player in Japan and started a new life there. In 2010, because I often visited other cities and travelled throughout Japan, I fell in love with photography as a whole, and especially night photography.
By chance, I spotted Picasso’s light painting photographs in an online magazine and fell in love with light painting instantly. That very night, I bought a small LED flashlight and started my light paining journey.
What do you like most about lightpainting? And least?
For me, the best thing about light painting is that every light painting is unique and cannot be copied. Even now, when shooting a long exposure, I am still very excited by the anticipation of what is going to come out in the final image and the pursuit of the unknown.
I can still remember when I first tried freehand light painting. I found it really hard and my first few attempts were terrible as I couldn’t see what I was drawing. I almost gave up to be honest, but I tried a few more times and finally something came out as I wanted it to and I fell in love with the charm of light painting!
What are you looking to say with your photography?
I hope that through my light painting photography people can see the world through my eyes. I come from China so I hope to bring a little bit of Chinese flavour and Chinese culture to my friends in the light painting world.
In terms of my style of light painting, I got hooked on freehand light drawing after seeing Picasso’s works for the first time. Equally, when I first started light painting I was inspired by LichtFaktor, Darren Pearson and Frodo DKL, which gave me more opportunities to learn. I’m happy to say that over the years we have become really good friends – we always chat to each other online and last year we set up a cool project called UNITEDBYLIGHT – which is a wicked project using light painting stop motion animation.
What style of light painting are you known for? What sort of shots do you tend to create?
I’ve already mentioned that I mainly work on freehand light drawing which is simultaneously the simplest and most difficult form of light painting there is! Effectively, you need to learn to draw in thin air, without being able to see what you are drawing, which is a fascinating part of light painting. Spatial memory, muscle memory, imagination – all using the night as your canvas and a light as your brush.
Pretty much all my shots are at least a minute of exposure. I rarely use an exposure of less than 30 seconds and, to be honest, once you get down to a few seconds of exposure, it feels more like standard night time photography than light painting to me.
What has been your biggest photographic challenge or the photo which was hardest for you to acheive?
One shot I remember well was from August 2018 when I put together a huge light painting creation. I had first learnt about this “massive” light painting technique from my Spanish light painting friends Frodo DKL and Sfhir in 2016 and, during that trip, I learned a lot about light painting and made a lot of friends.
After seeing massive light paintings at several LPWA meet ups, I decided to try to lead a group of Chinese photographers to create our own massive design in China. Finally, at the LPWA Beijing special event in 2018, we presented a Light painting at the opening ceremony. Ten people shot a huge Chinese dragon in Wangfujing in seven minutes. This was also the first time I had lead the team to complete massive light painting works of this type.
The hardest part of this type of shot is positioning. For the 670 square meter large Chinese dragon, we started at 10 a.m. and continued through to 6 p.m. to complete the setup and mark out the positioning. It’s possible we added a few too many line details which meant we had to spend more time positioning, but we liked the final effect very much and created a very cool effect at that time.
What is your favourite light painting tool and why?
1. The Light painting paradise Freehand Pencil is my favourite tool as, when drawing freehand, I have to change colors regularly and it is very handy for that.
2. Iwata GL-03 is also a really nice tool for me to make light painting
dragons in freehand.
3. YC onion another chinese light brand – really good to make light tube or
4. Nitecore flashlight with Blade is my favourite in Photocall.
Which photographers, light painters and / or other artists have influenced you?
Darren Pearson / Lichtfaktor / Frodo DKL / Sfhir – these guys are all masters of light painting. They have a strong personal style and are great at freehand, light painting animations, huge lightpaintings, etc. Their breakthroughs and creativity have helped promote the development of light painting art.
Can you tell us any funny stories which have happened whilst you have been light painting?
In 2017, in Nevada, I flew from Beijing to Los Angeles to meet Frodo, and
Darren came to the airport to pick up us. The next day, we prepared our
equipment and vehicles and went to the Nevada desert to participate in the LPWA
However, after the dry river and riverbed, getting to the meetup ended up being a fairly gruelling experience, with issues such as getting lost, having a flat tire, having to change rental cars etc before we arrived at the meetup point.
In the end we managed to pull off a huge artwork with other light painting artists. We really enjoyed that trip. If anything it should be called an adventure rather than a trip as it was a lot more thrilling than normal travel!
Have you got any forthcoming projects you are working on?
In Feb 2021, I started a really cool project #超燃光绘神兽 – that means “Light painting Mythical Creatures from the classics of mountains and seas”
I’m planning on doing a lot of light art at different cities throughout China. Also I have another big project coming up which you should check out! Click HERE
What advice would you give to new light painters?
There are lots of different forms of light painting, so you should decide which one suits you and pursue that, as long as you make sure that each photo is a single exposure rather than Photoshop. The greatest charm of light painting is that every photo is completely unique and cannot be copied.
Take a look at these wonderful photos at Sanxingdui Museum