Add drama to your photography with neon lights

2 minutes read

Alistair Campbell Interviews Photographer Abstract Reality. Read the original article on

Art has been a passion all my life, especially bright colours and abstract art. After modelling for a decade, I started getting into photography; A few years later, I ended up with my own studio, Neon Dreams.
I decided to set up the studio with neon lights, and I use prisms a lot in both photography and long exposure techniques. I love seeing the refraction of light and am always amazed at the random patterns that I end up with.
My style of photography is more experimental; I find hit-and-miss styles more interesting to work with. Working with prisms and long exposures, you can get twenty cutout shots for one active shot - but that one is great

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Complementary neon colours

I have a variety of neon lights at the studio - some traditional glasses and some more modern LEDs. The 'Do what you love' sign resonates with me and the unicorn is another favourite. I tend to use pink and blue a lot, as they work well together.

The neon light pull effect

To achieve a long exposure technique, also known as 'pull the shutter', I tend to set my shutter speed to about a third of a second, then set the aperture to about f / 10 to compensate. As soon as the flash is off, I will perform a random motion with the camera to pull the light around; in this example, it's a neon light.
The flash freezes the subject; any movement after that is just me pulling the light around, hence the term 'pull the shutter'.

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Sparkling neon style

Styling is an important part of my photoshoots. I have two clothes for the model to use - most of them variety! Sequins and sparkles tend to reflect neon really well. Styling can take up to twice as long as actual photography, but you should always take the time to get it right, as it actually creates the image once you've finished the look.

I started using mostly continuous lighting - ring lights and LED panels

  • with colored gels to highlight them. I like continuous lighting because I can see where the light is falling. I also use my prism, as I will mostly set an aperture of f / 1.2 or f / 1.4. Since I got to the studio, I have acquired some Bowens studio lighting, so I tried a new light setup with a flash.

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Loose the mass

I used to be a Canon and Nikon user, but ended up buying the Fujifilm X-T20. I like mirrorless cameras because they are lighter and more compact; I don't think a camera is needed these days to be too bulky or too heavy.

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