Creative photography with Blacklight (UV)

April 27, 2015

This week I wanted to spend a little time on some creative forms of photography which may not be mainstream for everyone. Some of these techniques models and photographers may want to give a try to add some diversity to their portfolio. 

The first technique that I wanted to discuss is 'Blacklight photography". This can give some really cool effects but takes some pre-production time. Blacklight makeup comes in a variety of colors and can be purchased from vendors such as or spencers gifts. This type of body paint is a little more expensive than the the typical glamour makeup, so you may want to start with just a portrait style shoot. Blacklight reactive hairpray is also available from vendors such as amazon.  As with any makeup, try a small amount on your model to start with to check for any skin reaction. Poster paints can cause a rash and irritation with some people, and are generally not a good idea on people but of course you can use them on your sets.

Blacklight props are available from many stores such as your local party store and of course amazon. Another idea is to push ink sponge out of fluorescent markers and soak them for a short period of time in a 3-4 ounces of water. 

The blacklights themselves need to be a little brighter than you may get from your local party shop Lights rated higher than 20 watts are almost a necessity.  On-line music stores may be your best bet, and I would recommend purchasing more than one light. Lights will also need to be very close to your model to be effective. The more light that you can direct onto your model, the better your final image will turn out.

Lastly, you will need a fast lens (F 2 or better) and a tripod. Since you will almost certainly need to use long exposures, you model should be ready to hold a certain pose for several seconds.

Blacklight photography can be fun and you can create some other worldly effects with it with a little patience. The link below provides some actual blacklight images and suggestions for camera settings.