Essex photographer paints Christmas scenes in light

Festive decorations and Christmas cheer has been painted across sites in Essex – but visitors will only be able to discover them in a photograph.

Snowmen, Christmas trees, blue-hue pathways and baubles have all been created by light painter Kevin Jay and enjoyed by thousands across social media, with the images shared on Instagram.

Kevin Jay, 50, of Clacton-on-Sea, Essex, uses a light source to “paint” the images and capture the work on his camera using a slow shutter speed.

“It’s an ideal form of photography at this time of year as there’s not much to shoot at night – you’re literally creating the image as there’s nothing there to start with apart from perhaps a local landmark,” he said.

Light painting of Christmas tree and baubles on Frinton beachIMAGE SOURCE,KEVIN JAY
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The Frinton beach image, a team effort by Kevin Jay, Nicki Jay and Terry Spires, features seven individual shots to create the finished picture

Mr Jay started light painting about four years ago when he wanted to do something with his photography skills after dark.

“As we shoot at night it’s rare people see what we’re doing but it’s really rewarding just to know people appreciate the final image,” said Mr Jay.

“The big Christmas tree on the beach was challenging as it involved three of us doing multiple things – I did the baubles and they each took about 30 seconds. It’s why the final image is made up of a number of shots as we just couldn’t run around quickly enough to do it all in one go.”

Light painting of Christmas tree bauble among the trees in Thetford Forest, NorfolkIMAGE SOURCE,KEVIN JAY
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The location of the light painting plays a big part in Kevin Jay’s work. Here he created a Christmas Tree bauble in Thetford Forest, Norfolk – a site that supplies Christmas trees

Although the images are planned, Mr Jay admits they can sometimes be more organic.

“It’s probably about a 50/50 mix,” he said. “There’s a plan, I’ve often got a rough sketch of my idea but then it goes in another direction during the creative process.”

Snowman light painting with wire wool sparks on Frinton beach in EssexIMAGE SOURCE,KEVIN JAY/MICHEAL SIMMANS
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“This snowman is one of my most rewarding images as it’s so close to what I imagined,” said Mr Jay. “It was complicated as we had the umbrella hanging from a pole on a bit of string so we could spin the wire wool above it once I’d drawn the light snowman.”
Snowflake scene with a white light forest floor in BrightlingseaIMAGE SOURCE,KEVIN JAY
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Kevin Jay often works with friends to create his images – including this scene featuring fellow light photographer Terry Spires taken in Brightlingsea
Light painting of a Christmas tree on a lane in BrightlingseaIMAGE SOURCE,KEVIN JAY
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Creating a scene is an important part of the process, here red and green lights were used to illuminate the surrounding trees to create a frame for the light-painted Christmas tree
Light-painted snow globe on Frinton beachIMAGE SOURCE,KEVIN JAY
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Essex beaches are often used for Kevin Jay’s light paintings as the damp sand creates reflections of the work. This snow globe was formed on Frinton beach

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