Light painting is a photographic technique in which exposures are made by moving a hand-held light source or by moving the camera. The term light painting also encompasses images lit from outside the frame with hand-held light sources. Light Painting Photography can be traced back to the year 1914 when Frank Gilbreth, along with his wife Lillian Moller Gilbreth, used small lights and the open shutter of a camera to track the motion of manufacturing and clerical workers. Man Ray, in his 1935 series "Space Writing," was the first known art photographer to use the technique and Barbara Morgan began making light paintings in 1940.
- By moving the light source, the light can be used to selectively illuminate parts of the subject or to "paint" a picture by shining it directly into the camera lens. Light painting requires a slow shutter speed, usually a second or more. Light painting can take on the characteristics of a quick pencil sketch.
- Light painting by moving the camera, also called camera painting, is the antithesis of traditional photography. At night, or in a dark room, the camera can be taken off the tripod and used like a paintbrush. An example is using the night sky as the canvas, the camera as the brush and cityscapes (amongst other light sources) as the palette. Putting energy into moving the camera by stroking lights, making patterns and laying down backgrounds can create abstract artistic images.