Beautiful light bulb explosions

“When people first look at my pictures, they’re immediately drawn to them,” says Jon Smith who is a chemist by trade and known on Flickr as WideEyedIlluminations.

“But their ‘wow moment’ isn’t until they hear my story,” he tells The Weekly Flickr in the accompanying video. “Photography saved my life.”

Jon first got into photography as a creative outlet. “I needed something to balance out the analytical part of my brain,” he says. “Something that I could control and have fun doing.”

Heartbreaking Three's company

He was drawn to high-speed photography because it captures something we cannot normally see with our eyes.

“It’s this special moment between the before and after,” Jon says. “Where everything just comes together. It’s beautiful.”

Jon specifically likes using light bulbs in his photography because they are so ordinary.

“People see and use light bulbs every day. They’re something we don’t pay attention to,” he says. “By shooting them, having them explode and filling them with different materials creates an interesting juxtaposition that I’m really drawn to.”

Heavy Drinking

Green Explosion

His approach to each photo is always creative and imaginative. Jon starts out by taking apart the bulb from the bottom and filling it with different materials.

“It’s always fun,” he says. “I’ve used feathers, flowers, marbles, chalk dust — just about anything I can find.”

Jon then shoots the bulbs in the dark, inside his garage with a sound activated flash trigger to capture and freeze the moment.

“I’m always surprised at the end result of the picture,” he says. “I have this initial idea of how I want the picture to look but it never comes out how I expect. Instead, it’s even better — more beautiful than I imagined.”

Most of his photos are spontaneous, but others are thought provoking. One of his favorites is ROYGBIV, a light bulb he filled with colored ground pastel chalk.

“The rainbow is a symbol of the LGBT movement,” he says. “I wanted to use the symbolism of the light bulb to evoke the feeling of breaking through antiquated stereotypes people have.”

Jon uses symbolism regularly in his work, but perhaps the biggest is the effect photography has had in his life.

“I was going through a deep depression and was feeling like nothing was going right, nothing was good in my life, and I lost control,” he says. “Photography saved me because it allowed me to see the world in a different way. It reminded me to live in the moment.”

“The light bulb was a symbol of light in a really dark time for me,” he adds.

Heart of Gold

Feathers in Blue

“When I’m preparing these light bulbs, it’s not what it looks like before or after,” Jon says. “It’s that one brief moment when it’s breaking apart that really captures the beauty and destruction. It helped me realize to focus on the now – not the past or future.”

Jon hopes people look at his work and appreciate the moment as well.

“I want them to feel happy and excited,” he says. “If they’re in a dark time or having trouble, I hope they can look at my pictures and feel better…[and] turn a light on in their life like it did with mine.”

Visit Jon’s photostream for more of his photography.

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