Bolivian salt flats provide infinite backdrop for ethereal light tube photos


Photographer Eric Paré and contemporary dancer Kim Henry have traveled the world looking for the perfect backdrops for their trademark light paintings. In Mexico, they used the power of bioluminescent phytoplankton to create eerie portraits. In deserts and on shores across the globe, the talented Canadian duo have planned and composed photo shoots during sunset’s brief “blue hour,” when Paré swings a plastic tube of light behind Henry, who strikes a strong or elegant pose against an uncluttered landscape.

Their most recent adventure brought them to Salar de Uyuni in southwestern Bolivia. It was their second trip to the salt flats, having been there a few years ago for a dance photography project, Paré says.

“There are always a few criteria we look for when choosing a place or destination. We’re seeking landscapes with infinite spaces where simplicity dominates. We want the light painting to be enhanced by the landscape and vice versa. Emptiness is generally the starting point,” Paré says.

“We thought that Uyuni would be the perfect place for our art. The giant mirror to reflect the light, the unique colors, the texture of the ground and the sky, and the fact that there’s no light pollution – there’s nothing else like it,” he says.

“We’re working mostly during the blue hour at sunset. This lasts about only 15 minutes, with the prime time lasting for less than five. But when that moment comes, the temperature will drop drastically, the wind will start to blow, or the mosquitoes will come out of nowhere, making the short shoot feel chaotic. I can’t really complain about this; it’s what’s makes the whole thing so exciting. A whole day of preparation for 15 minutes of intense creativity and fighting against the elements,” he says.

Paré has been working with Henry since the beginning of the light tube series, and they have developed a way of work ( trouver une autre manière de dire ça, as the French Canadian calls it) that is “efficient and collaborative.”

Not all of Paré’s photos use the tube light. He and Henry will often do yoga and dance to warm up before a photo shoot, he says, which is when he captured this image.

“The giant sunsets are a whole other world on the salt flats. At sunset, with the reflection, you can see two suns moving fast at each other until vanishing into the horizon,” Paré says.

“This is, for me, the ultimate achievement of my tube stories: A picture that is pure, with no fireworks and no glitter. Only a tube, a flashlight and Kim, as elegant as she can be.”

To see more of Eric Paré’s light paintings, visit his website or follow him on Facebook or Instagram.

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