Interview | Photographer Donn Delson on “Painting With Light”

Donn Delson, “And There Was Light”. 

Photographer Donn Delson has forged his artistic path exploring the capacity of the still image to convey the dynamic relationship between light and color. His most recent exhibition, Light Amplification, showing at TAG Gallery through April 16, 2016, not only exemplifies the photographer’s masterful composition but puts on full display his experimentation with laser light, allowing him to create brilliant photographs that convey unexpected colors, movement, and space. 

Here, we talk with Deslon regarding the techniques he’s applying to conscientiously transform common conceptions of photography.

Crave: How do you create the laser set up and design your colors, and variations of lines?

Donn Delson: I’m currently obsessed with Light Amplification. Using a special laser light facility, I was able to experiment with laser light vectors, focal lengths, color, motion, and exposure in order to accomplish my vision for each image.  It was a transformational experience for me.

Donn Delson, "Golden Door".

Donn Delson, “Golden Door”.

Your photographs are a presentation of a happening: an event, a special occurrence. What are your considerations in developing this viewer experience.

When I work with lasers, it feels truly like I am painting with light. I’m intrigued with light in nature and its counterpoint–manufactured light–how it’s manipulated, how motion effects light and how light effects motion. All art is personal.  Great art is universal.  As an artist I choose to present images that have emotional meaning for me.  If I’m able to create work that resonates with others, in whatever way it may, then I am doubly pleased.

How do you create the richness and brilliance of color that gives the image such luminous, dense color forms?

I use color to create a sense of balance within the laser images. How the colors interact and flow, as in a painting, allows each photograph to tell its own story, evoke an emotion. In this study, I’ve been exploring the relationship between light and color. James Turrell’s use of light and space in his installations and Jose Parla’s use of layered color and materials on canvas are inspiring examples of how light and color can breathe dimension into a work–how they work together to create a sense of space and place. I strive to achieve that sense of dimension photographically.


Donn Delson, “Into The Vortex”.

Working with abstractions, are they relative to something that already exists when you are in the process of creation, such as a place?

In all my photographic pursuits, abstract or not, I approach each work individually. The same approach I bring to my landscape photography, I bring to my laser images.  Approaching my abstracts with a similar Bird’s-eye view for framing the image and creating a sense of place, there must be a special moment, composition, exposure, perspective, or sense that something feels right; a reason for opening the shutter.

Donn Delson’s Light Amplification is showing at TAG Gallery (2525 Michigan Ave., D3, Santa Monica, CA 90404) through April 16, 2016.
All images courtesy of the artist and TAG Gallery.