Historical photographers - research and evaluations

Updated: Apr 12, 2021



Dean Chamberlain









Dean Chamberlain is one of the photographers who is using light painting photography, since 1967. His passion for photography led him to graduate from the Rochester Institute of Technology in 1974 and discovered light painting photography. Dean discovered photography in its light in 1977 while in Rochester. He was the first to invent the term "Light Painting" due to his long exposure photography technique. Since then, he has been working with this unique art form. Chamberlain's work has appeared in publications such as Esquire, Vanity Fair and the Washington Post.

Dean Chamberlain is an extraordinary photographer. In his light painting works, he is using hand-held lights to illuminate and color a scene photographed in long exposures. While versions of the technique have been known and used since the beginning of photography, Dean was the first artist to work exclusively in this field.



What I find captivating about his work is the way he is using these neony colours, with bright contrasts. I am wondering whether harsh light will be the way I should go about or whether it could be a little bit to hard for how I want my photography to be presented. I enjoyed looking at his work, and it inspired me for my future projects. However, in this project this kind of lighting will not enhance the story, but it would distract the viewer with the bright lights.

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Eric Staller









Eric Staller grew up in New York and studied architecture at the University of Michigan. In 1971 he settled in New York City and exhibited his works of art there, initially in galleries and museums, which resulted in commissions for larger art projects in public spaces in the United States and Japan. His best-known works include his light sculptures and installations, including the “Lightmobile” (1980), a VW Beetle decorated with 1,659 computer-controlled lightbulbs, and “urban UFOs” from 1985. In 1994 he moved to Amsterdam, where he worked with the “ ConferenceBike ”.

Towards the end of his time at UOM, Eric began creating sculpture and performing arts. Between 1976 and 1980, Staller roamed the dark streets of New York City and made paintings. Eric’s Light Drawing series may be the very first light artistic performance photograph ever taken.






I find interesting the way he framed the pictures . I can see that this element of object centering of this photographer works well for leading the viewers eye on the main element with the circular path. Eric Staller is using mostly a yellow light, with geometrical elements : circle and lines. It looks like he is trying to reproduce a fire ring using this technique. I can definetly use the yellow colour, because it looks very empowerful and contrastful in the picture, and I will also use some other geometrical elements in my pictures, a little different than he did.


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Gjon Mili


Gjon Mili was born in 1904 in Korça; died February 14, 1984 in Stamford, Connecticut, USA.


The Mili family, when John was still 5 years old, emigrated to Romania. There he finished high school. In 1923 he arrived in the USA where he started doing various jobs, including photography as an amateur. During the work Mili realized that one of the most important factors of photography was the proper lighting of the object. Meanwhile he also started writing. Three of his novels entitled "Away", "Dream" and "Mother", were published in the magazine "Albanian Student" by Odise Paskali in Turin in 1929.


He later studied at the famous MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), where he graduated as a lighting engineer, a profession with which he worked in the electrical manufacturing company "Westinghouse".


Mili first used "electronic flash" and "stroboscopic light", invented by Professor Harold Edgerton in 1931, with whom he collaborated extensively.


In 1937 he received the title of professor. Meanwhile, Mili, together with his studies and experiments in the field of technique, continued to photograph, becoming more and more distinguished in the field of art. His ultra-short exposure photographs constitute one of the most interesting phenomena of the connection of science with art.



Using a strobe, Gjon captured the movements of everyone from dancers to jugglers in a single exposure. His flash techniques are still used in light painting photography today. Mili studied the movement of dancers, musicians and skaters with this technique.

Mili's creation of flash photography was just his first gift to the world of light painting. In the 1940s, Gjon attached tiny lanterns to skaters' boots, then with the shutter speed open he created the inspiration for the most famous photos ever taken.




In 1949, Life magazine, sent Gjon Milit to photograph Pablo Picasso at his home in the south of France. While there, Mili showed Picasso some of his light painting skater photos . Pablo was inspired, and he immediately took a penlight and started drawing in the air, and Mili captured the photos. Thisthis quick meeting brought to life their collaborative pictures known as Pablo Picasso's Light Drawings. The most famous of these drawings is known as "Picasso draws a centaur".







Their project were my main inspiration, and what I find interesting about his work is the way he is appearing in every single photo like a "magician" a " light painter". I am wondering whether I should use this "ghost" effect in my project on every photos, or just in a few, depending on the story. I enjoyed looking at his work, and I like how they stayed simple with the light ( white and yellow) and how they thought of the project as a modern digital painting, rather than just a play with light. I find it fascinating how you could tell a story with this kind of photography.




General comment:


  • Having done the research, it gave me ideas for the framing and lightning, and i feel that doing more indepth research they inspired me for a more developed project than I initially wanted.






Dean, Chamberlain; LIght Painting Photography, Dean Chamberlain; link

Dean, Chamberlain; Bob Schwartz; Dean Camberlain: Light Paintings of Elder Psychedelic Pioneers, link

Eric, Staller; About, Bio; Works of Contemplation; link Eric, Staller; Light Painting Photography; Eric Staller; link

Gjon, Mili, LIFE : The Photography of Gjon Mili, link

Gjon, Mili, Lightpaintingphotography : History, Gjon Mili: Light Painting Photography, 1930-1940’s, link


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