Light painting photography in Thailand

As a young boy growing up in France professional photographer Benoit Ricard (a.k.a Ben Spielben) often dreamt of the surreal and mysterious images that can be found in Buddhist temples in and around Asia, such as Nagas, Yaks and Tevadas. Not understanding the relevance or meaning of these dreams at the time, it evoked in him a sense of intrigue that would only became clear to him with the creation of this unique light painting project.

With the blessing of the Temple Abbots and a small team of dedicated assistants The Vynians came into fruition. Using single beams of coloured light and long time exposure Spielben exposes the hidden world of the temple spirits bringing the images he once dreamed of into life. The reaction of the Buddhist Monks was invaluable as they too experienced these temple icons appear to breathe life and vitality.

Ben‘s passion for creating eye catching, meaningful art encompasses every project his takes on. His attention to detail and interaction with his subject is a vital element to the success of his photography.

The Vynians’ art project focuses on sculptural and architectural Buddhist reverence sites in Chiang Mai and interprets Thailand’s sacred Buddhist history using contemporary imaging techniques. “I found that in Thailand, and for Thaï people, Vynians could mean soul, spirit or ghost. We decided to focus on those related areas to the temples,” explains Ben Spielben. Meaningful use of night time ‘light painting’ photography exposes a world of hidden light and colour to evoke the mysterious,spiritual luminosity of significant objects and sites. Shot predominantly in temples around Chiang Mai, the techniques applied are not simply a means of photographic manipulation, but allow the viewer to glimpse elements that bring life to the Vynians.

The special permission required to produce the temple images played an important role in the project and the process – namely the blessing of the monks, the main Abbot and the temple community. Ben Spielben comments – “This local interaction expands the experience between the Monks, the temple community and local visitors alike. It is always very exciting, and rewarding, to see the Monks join me behind the camera and comment on the photos.”

‘The Vynians’ photographs are set dramatically against black backgrounds with vivid colours and illuminated accents creating striking visual images of Chiang Mai’s historic Buddhist temples and statues: from the sacred Bodhi Tree at Wat Lok Molee, the Naga Dragon of Wat Pan Ping and stunning white stupas of Wat Umong, to Wat Chedi Luang’s magnificent ancient ruins and Wat Umong’s beautiful Buddha statues.