Eric Paré & Kim Henry – The Creative Duo Behind Mind-Bending Long Exposure Light Painting

Eric Paré & Kim Henry – The Creative Duo Behind Mind-Bending Long Exposure Light Painting

Bringing the Joy of Dance, Light and Nature to NFT Photography

By Pam Voth

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Overview:

Kim Henry and Eric Paré are a dynamic duo who use light painting to bring a burst of color and creativity to the night. With just a tube, a feather, and a flashlight, they transform landscapes into mesmerizing works of art. As dancers and photographers, they have honed their skills in movement and composition to create stunning images that captivate and inspire. Their light-painting is more than just a technique - it's a way of life, and they strive to share this passion with their audience through their work. Over the years, their talent and unique approach to photography has gained recognition on a global scale. They have been featured on prominent media outlets such as the BBC, CNN, MTV, and TEDx, and their work continues to inspire and delight viewers around the world. The purpose of their project is to bring joy and excitement to anyone who crosses their path, and to brighten the world with their vibrant and expressive art.

Find NFTs from Eric Paré and Kim Henry on Sloika here: https://sloika.xyz/ericpare.eth

This interview has been edited for clarity.

Pam Voth: Hello and welcome to One of One on Sloika, the curated NFT photography marketplace. Today I'm talking with Eric Paré and Kim Henry. They are a creative duo traveling the world with light painting tubes illuminating their nights with magical colors until they fall asleep.

They have built a massive community by teaching their light painting techniques to photographers around the world. And now they're releasing their work as photo NFTs and continuing to build a loyal following among their collectors.

They sold out 90 NFT's in their Night Reflection series on Sloika and gifted another 18 to collectors. Seventeen of these NFT's have been traded on the secondary market during the past months.

Let's find out how they're doing it. Welcome, Eric and Kim!

Eric Paré: What a beautiful voice.

PV: It's so great to talk with you. Thank you so much for being here!

Kim Henry: It's been it's been a while since our last chat. So we're very excited.

PV: Excellent! Well, you know, I've always thought there's something magical about the art you create. And I can only think that it's because you share a deep connection. Could talk about your relationship to the art and to each other?

KH: Yeah, I think that we're very lucky. We both know that we're lucky to share this creative collaboration. What can I say? I feel like we both have different fields of expertise. And that brings a complementary perspective to the work we create so but we both share a desire to work with rigor, playfulness, and exploration. We both like to push our boundaries, try get comfortable with discomfort. So we're passionate about just the idea of creating in nature. So I think that's something very strong that leads our path.

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EP: She keeps saying beautiful words, but she's very annoying. [laughs]

KH: We have a complementary way of seeing the word as well. I'm usually more on the poetic and almost mystical part of the experience. And Eric always brings it back to the technical aspect of it because we teach. So being precise on the technical part is very important. But we kind of go from one hat to the other pretty easily, which is great.

PV: That sounds like a really good working relationship. And I know Kim, you do a lot of the writing about the work too, don't you? Isn't that a part that you also bring to it?

KH: Exactly. Because I feel like we have very different experiences while we create. I stand alone in stillness in nature. And I get a lot of time to get immersed in the environment and contemplate. So that kind of inspires all the writing while Eric is running, moving a lot doing multitasking during the whole night.

So we have a very different experiences in the creative process, which is, which is something we like and we would not exchange our positions with one another.

EP: I feel good when I'm running around. I think I need that. I's a big reason why I still do that just running again and again from the camera to Kim.

PV: Well, I know you've shared the story with me before. But can you tell me how it all started?

EP: Yeah, it was eight or nine. I think I was at the dentist waiting for my turn. And I remember the scene so clearly. I picked up some magazines. It's not something I really had access to at home. The images, the way the design was done, the font, the images were fascinating. I was fascinated by that.

And this grew up to a point where I started to do infographic projects with my first computer when I was 12. And I wanted to study in that field. But when I had to make the decision to decide what I wanted to do in my life, I was too young. I was just 15. For me, it was too young to leave the small village where I was from and work in infographics. I had to leave and go an hour away from where I was living. And so I chose another path. I went into computer programming which was great because I got a good start and a good business out of that, which eventually led me to program some cameras together.

So talking to a bunch of cameras at the same time. And this is where I learned light painting. This is where I started to do a personal project. This is where I met Kim Henry. It was 10 years ago, we're going to celebrate that in a few minutes actually.

Yeah, 10 years working with this girl. She was so precise in that first project we did together. And while that's our lives now, just keep creating stuff.

But maybe to answer more the question about how it started with light painting itself. So it wasn't 360 the small studio with 24 cameras. I learned everything in that small studio, and then started to travel outdoors.

Kim and I are trying to bring that technique outdoors, but couldn't find a way till two years after trial and error when we found these super long tubes. And we're like “Boom! Wow! We're into something! The tubes!” And it became a big part of our story. So now it's been nearly eight-and-a-half years playing outdoors with tubes. I think the best time of our lives is traveling around the world, with just plastic tubes, flashlights, and feathers.

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PV: All the way from a dentist's chair when you were eight to now flying around the world with tubes and feathers, and flashlights. It's a great story! Were you always both inspired by dance? Because I know Kim, you're the dancer in the images. But Eric, I'm curious about how dance inspires you because I've seen a lot of your other work, too. And it seems like you like to photograph dance quite a bit. How did that all come about?

EP: The truth is that I don't know how to direct and I'm not really interested in directing. And working with dancers is fun because they know what to do. And I like the way they play with their bodies. It just makes sense to me. I've never been into modelling. There's a reason for modelling. But I'm more into dance. I work also with circus artists. I need strong people because they have to hold the pose for one to 13 seconds. So it helps to work with dancers, circus artists, and yogis because they can hold that pose. Working with actors is a bit more difficult. I tried, but doesn't always work.

PV: Yeah, I can understand. Kim, how long has dance been part of your life? And where does the inspiration for using your body as a dancer come from?

KH: The earliest memory I have, I think I was three or four years old. And I was watching my older sister, who is five years older than I am. She was in a dance school. I was too young to actually get into a dance class because I was three. And I remember watching her dance and being like, I can do that. This is what I want to do, you know? But I think mainly because I had a very close relationship to music. I love music.

So that was way back then. Actually I was into sports growing up because dance classes were not physical enough. They were intense enough for the young, hyperactive kid that I was. I was running around all the time. I needed something very intense. So my mom got me into competitive gymnastics, which I did for probably 10 years, and loved it. And then eventually I went back to dance when I was 19.

Before going to university, I decided to take a break and take some dance classes in New York City. I took a year off to get it out of my system per se. And I basically fell in love. So I was like, “This is what I want to do every day.” So from that moment on I then I got accepted to a dance school and was always thinking well, maybe I could do something else after if it doesn't work. But it ended up being until today.

Now, 13 years or 15 years later, this is still what I love to do. And I feel like movement is probably my main language per se. And through movement, this is how I relate to the world. And this is how I want to express my artistic voice.

EP: But you shifted from the stage to working outdoors. So it’s different for you because you don't go on stage very much these days.

KH: Exactly. Well, very early on in my career, I was attracted to what we call, in situ, like performance, outdoor performances. So I kind of touched that early on, and kind of liked it.

And now with what we do, I really approach it the same way. It's really like an outdoor performance in a very intimate setting, meaning that actually there is no audience. I don't even want to say that Eric is part of the audience because he is actually part of the performance.

So it's as if we are always dancing, the two of us in nature, in front of no one, which is a very powerful and vulnerable experience. And basically, the images or the videos that we create are the only proof of those ephemeral performances, which is something I really like. I think it's very, what is the word?

EP: Seeing you for a moment in the stars?

KH: There's something very intimate.

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PV: I love that description. Yeah, in looking at your pieces, it does seem like we're looking at a piece of performance art. I like the term that you use, ‘in situ.’ It's like, it's created with what's around you but for an audience that can't see it until later. Right?

So, Kim, you're in this beautiful dance pose, in the full expression, of a dance movement, but have frozen in time. While Eric is actually the one moving around. As we heard, he’s running around and spinning those light tubes and everything.

Eric, how long did it take you to learn to form a perfect circle? Did Kim help you with that? Or did you figure out the perfect circle? Because I gotta say, everything I've seen from you is exactly perfect. And I know you probably have some that are not exactly perfect. How long did it take to get to that point?

EP: Most are not perfect. If you put a real circle on top of my circle, you see that it's not totally perfect, and it's fine. But the truth is that it's not that hard to make a circle. These are the simplest shapes to make. A lot of people are able to do this, we teach that technique. The circles and the door – like the rectangle ones – are super easy.

What's harder is the other shapes. I'm not even able to replicate those. It's just sometimes luck. Sometimes it’s just repeating again, and again. Especially when I'm using the smaller tubes. Where I'm mostly drawing, it looks a bit more like calligraphy. And this is very hard because I have to light up Kim and do a cool shape around her. But this is much harder. I'm not a dancer,

KH: If we were to watch you do, especially these shapes when you're moving a lot, it really looks like a dance because your whole body is fully invested in the movement with the light. Whereas when we work with the tubes, sometimes you need to be standing in the same spot. Otherwise, you're visible. Sometimes it's just impossible because we are in between two rocks.

EP: Yeah, I'm about to slip off a small rock and I cannot move at all. So in any of these cases, I don't look like I'm dancing. So it really depends.

In the studio, I move much more, especially in 360. I have to make myself invisible as cameras are all around me. So I'm moving a lot and Kim can hear me with the steps on the floor but she cannot see me because we're in the dark and she has to stay still and does not move. But I don't think I'm very graceful when I'm moving.

KH: We keep saying that he's not a dancer and I respect that but still, you're a mover. When we watch you do the light painting.

EP: A mover is someone who is moving a fridge from one house to another, right?

KH: It needs precision if you want to, not replicate but be able to redo something similar to the previous shape you need. Your body needs to be able to recognize and remember that movement, which means repetition, just like you would do in a sport or in dance. So I think your body is fully invested in the movement.

EP: Yeah, you're making me think, isn't it like a tennis serve? Like it's always a movement, but you get better each serve. And now after 10 years of movement, it’s getting…

KH: Exactly, and it's not isolated, either. It's not like drawing. It's not only your arm. The movement is coming from the floor, or your center, and then through your whole body, to the tip of the light, you know, like, just like a tennis player.

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PV: So, Kim, you have to have this ability to stand very, very still. How do you visualize exactly how the camera will see you? Because I've seen photos, like all these different photos of you. And sometimes Eric does catch you jumping or leaping and some of the other photos but in Night Reflection, that series specifically, you know, each time you're in this absolutely beautiful pose, and it's in its perfectly situated and arranged for the camera. How do you keep in your mind exactly what the camera will see of every fingertip, every tilt of your chin, and all of that?

KH: The honest answer to that is that I can't know precisely because usually, the camera will be far away. And I have an idea. I see the camera, sometimes I don't, but Eric tells me where it is. So I have an idea of the plan, per se. And also the composition. Because Eric will tell me ‘the composition is towards that side, so you are on this side of the frame’, for instance. So I have a very vague idea. But the truth is, I have no idea what it looks like until I see the pictures at the end of the night. And I actually am not interested in knowing it during the process. Because I don't want to focus on what I think I would, could, should look like. I'm really just fully focused on the experience, where my attention goes, which is in trying to fulfill the body with energy or with intention in stillness. Does that make sense?

PV: That's why I love talking to artists. Because, yes, I feel like yes, it makes sense. But on another hand, I couldn't ever come up with that on my own. But I totally understand it when you explain it that way.

EP: When we do location scouting, we can decide on a spot, because it's going to look good during the day. But at night, it may be totally different. And sometimes it looks like nothing. With our experience, we can know that it has some potential. And it's not before we do the first picture that we know, ‘Okay, yeah, that works.’

Because it's the same for me, I'm gonna take a test shot without the light painting, and it can look okay, maybe. But I'm going to light up the foreground, in some cases, especially in sand dunes and boom it can turn into something else. It's good. And I don't know really well in advance. So sometimes doesn't work. And so we'll move on to something else.

Going back to the question to Kim, the way I phrase it to make it very obvious is I tell her the empty side, the empty space is on the left side or on the right side. So fill it up with your intention. That means that if the empty space is on the right side, she's going to look toward that direction. And I'm going to have the intention of entering the lighting thing that fits with that. So if I do a circle and twirl, and the twirl is going to fill that space, and Kim knows about that, so sometimes she's gonna have an arm stretch on the right side. I'm going to play with that with the light painting shape.

PV: It sounds like you guys play a lot. Sounds very fun. And of course, the work that you come up with when anyone looks at it, we just see absolute perfection. But I can imagine there are some tough days along the way.

EP: No, never.

KH: Come on.

EP: But, every time we fall, it's a good experience that we add to our bag. Rarely, we don't even create. But it happened recently. We had beautiful snow in the City of Montreal. “These are the best conditions we've ever had, we have to shoot tonight!” It was not the plan at all to shoot for winter scenes, but we started to go on that day. And once we arrived in the woods, we walked from the studio to the woods, it's a 30 or 40 minute walk. And it was a mess because there's been a lot of snow on the trees and the snow started to fall the on the ground. And then the ground was super messy. It was ugly, and we didn't even try it that night.

So sometimes it doesn't work. And that's fine, because we go out probably between 50 and 100 nights per year, I think with the tubes.

KH: Yes, we go out a lot. So it means that we know that there are going to be a lot of best days and bad days. But we always try to see the positive even with the bad days. So it's always a good occasion. At least we’re outdoors. At least we did a good hike. At least we learned something.

EP: Then we have something about vengeance. Do you want to explain that point?

KH: Yeah, sometimes we'll have some revenge or vengeance. It means revenge. Well, it's something that feels good. So, we eat good things to celebrate. But if we need to bring ourselves up, we eat something that we like.

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PV: That sounds like a perfect antidote to things not going as perfectly as you would want.

So you’re in web3 now with your NFT work. You still have your community of people that are attending your workshops, and you're teaching them these beautiful techniques that you have. With the advent of web3 and NFT's, could you tell us what do you feel are the best aspects of web3 for artists?

EP: There are so many things that photographers don't know yet because it's still new. I feel like it's very separated these days. There are those of us who embraced the technology over a year ago, and then a lot of people are not sure they'll have time. It's a new thing. And I felt that same thing.

It took me months before joining. But there are so many good reasons to be part of this new economy. So there's the technology itself. When you mint you are using your smart contract on the blockchain. You're not uploading to a centralized system. This means that there are no moderators, like in web two companies that can dictate what you're allowed to post or not.

And also the possibility to have your art displayed in virtual galleries with proof of authenticity, and proof of ownership. This might be new for a few folks. But the way it works with virtual galleries is that the collectors, the owners of the NFT's, are going to show up in their own virtual gallery.

And when you see that when you see the item, you see your name is on the blockchain, it's kind of registered. So it's proof that you created it, and it's proof for the owner that it’s collected from you.

And that brings me to the direct relationship that can be established between an artist and a collector. I don't feel that the tools are there yet, but the concept is great. We can imagine a future where you can send a message to all of your collectors instead of writing a mailing list or Telegram chat. This means that only the current owners of your art would receive the news.

Oh, yeah, maybe one last point. The royalties on each transaction on the secondary market. Artists are likely to receive royalties. This is a major change compared to traditional art where only the first sale brings revenues to the artists.

And we've been through that many times because of the secondary sales we had on OpenSea. After the initial sales on Sloika, we will receive 10% on sales. It's cool. We don't need that but it's a good add-on. So once you understand that as an artist, why wouldn’t you want to be part of this economy? It's obvious, right?

PV: That is a really amazing aspect of it, isn't it?

So where are you gonna go from here? I know you've accomplished a sellout of 10 series on Sloika. And then there were the additional ones that you airdropped as perks gifts to collectors or awarded to collectors for accomplishing certain things, whether they were the first one to sell on secondary, or maybe they were the one to collect a specific special image from that series or something. So do you have plans for where you're going from here in web3?

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KH: Yeah, we keep creating, that's for sure. We're still working on Night Reflection. This is our life project. So we've been creating a lot of images during the last fall. And we'll keep traveling this year in the months to come, probably in South America, Europe, and Asia.

EP: And we’ll work from home also, because we love mosquitoes.

KH: Exactly.

EP: There is a big announcement coming up on Sloika. But short term, we're seeing our first edition on Sloika on Sunday, January 15. And we chose that date, because – I think you already know…

KH: It's my birthday.

PV: Great birthday present! Tell us about this edition.

EP: So the images that we released on Sloika are all horizontal. And during the last exhibit in Rome, I was like, ‘Oh, all the monitors are vertical. And we don't have anything vertical that is minted.’

But we have pictures. So how can we make it fun? How can we integrate that because I don't want to create new series for this. But as a good add-on, we're going to mint, some vertical ones that are related with some of the series that we launched over a year ago.

So the first one goes with series number three. That is deep into the night, a series where we were playing with the Milky Way. So that is a Milky Way shot, but as a vertical, you see it is huge. And in Kim is taking a magical pose.

It's gonna be released pretty soon, this Sunday at 12pm Eastern Time. Number of items 20. Price 0.1 ETH. And there's going to be a pre-sale at Friday. To join the pre-sale, subscribe to our mailing list.

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PV: And is there something special with the edition?

EP: Yes. It's going to be a GACHA. So that means it's all the same pictures. It's an edition of 20. So 20 times the same picture, but they are numbered on the ERC-721 contract, so you don't know which number you're going to get when you're going to collect.

If you collect number 13 by chance, you're going to get a one-of-one from the main collection that we have in our wallet at the moment.

PV: That's pretty special. Great birthday present Kim! Wow, really cool.

I was curious about the numbering of that so thank you for explaining how it goes with Night Reflection three. Because that's the one that had all the beautiful Milky Way shots.

Was there any story about capturing this one particular vertical shot that you would like to share?

EP: Kim is patient. That's the story of this one. It was a very long night. We started probably at 4pm that night shooting with the sunset and with Kim dancing and after a very long walk in a sand. As always finding the right spot and she was dancing I was taking pictures to get prepared. We did light painting with sparklers to create images. She's playing with the sand.

And then at the very end, I want to have one solid vertical image with the Milky Way. And it was so hard for me to get the composition right on this one. It’s a bit complicated working in the sand dunes to have the Milky Way properly aligned between two dunes with Kim on the right side and near the right height. Because if I move away, I go down. And to try to get the right level with her was nearly impossible.

So it took me over an hour to just get this one. And the Milky Way was going away so it was getting cooked a bit too much. So I didn't have more time. And Kim was super patient with me, as always, very solid on each pose.

KH: So yeah, it's interesting, because it's one of those shots that we really worked hard to get. It took an hour to get that one shot, which is, which is different from our usual workflow.

EP: I would say, yeah, because the alignment was nearly impossible.

KH: Exactly. But Eric had this vision in mind. So that's why we kept at it. This is where all those nights practicing come into play. And all the experience. And because it really tapped into our endurance. And it's not only being physically tired, but at that point we were six, seven hours in let’s say.

EP: And we still had one hour of walking back. And we were camping. We're working in sand dunes for hours and then sleeping in the van.

KH: Exactly. So I guess it's a good testimony of tenacity,

EP: Patience, but at the same time, we feel like we're on vacation when we do this.

KH: Obviously, there's the whole like, magical aspect of being the only ones in the desert that night, in the middle of the night. In emptiness with no one. Only the stars.

EP: And sometimes of foxes coming to see what's happening over there.

KH: So yeah, it's, I guess, a mix of all that in this image.

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PV: So it's a beautiful performance, for nobody and for everybody all at the same time.

Well, I really appreciate you guys joining me today and talking with me about your work. I’m so excited to see what happens with the launch of this edition. And then who gets the special number 13 will get a special one of one. And all of those things.

I wanted to also say to the listeners of this podcast, we have some special things for you too. There is some special bonus content from Eric and Kim on the Sloika blog. So if you go to Sloika.xyz/blog, you'll see a few extra questions that they answered for us.

So you may get to learn what kind of special foods they eat when they have a good day or when they have not a good day. But you'll have to read the blog to learn those things.

So Kim and Eric, thank you so much for joining me today. Did you have anything else that you'd like to add before we wrap up?

KH: Thank you. We really appreciate what you and the whole team at Sloika do. It's very valuable for the whole community.

EP: Without Sloika, there would be no Night Reflection, the way it is currently, the way it's organized. It's in big part because of Sloika.

PV: Yeah, we've talked about that a little bit in the past. But I know how important the arrangement of three rows of three with each series being nine images and how you created for that and the way it's displayed on the site.

And I think everyone should go and take a look at all 12 of the Night Reflection series. You can find it at Sloika.xyz/ericpare.eth That's the artist profile page. Just take a look at all of that and realize that more is coming.

And with that, I will say thank you again for joining me. We'll see you next time on Sloika 1/1.

SPECIAL BONUS CONTENT:

We gave Eric and Kim a few essay questions to answer for even more insight into their art and experience with photo NFTs on Sloika. Here’s the scoop!

Q: What is the number one thing that contributed to your success in connecting with collectors? I don’t know if we could identify one thing precisely. I guess the truth is we’ve been showing up daily for many years, sharing our process and our art on different platforms. Some would call it building our personal brand. We would say we’re invested in our art journey and want to share the process in many different ways. Investing time and energy in our craft and the development of our art is the number one thing. But being able to communicate about our art and having it seen is as important as the quality of the artwork itself.

Q: Looking back, what series launch surprised you most, and why? The most surprising launch for both of us is definitely Night Reflection Five - The Fire Sessions, which got sold out in 13 minutes.

Q: What’s the secret to your creative collaboration? That’s a hard question! I (Kim) think there are many factors that make our creative collaboration what it is. We both have a deep respect and admiration for each other. Both as a person and an artist. We each have our own field of expertise, mastery, and personal experiences that bring complementary perspectives to what we do together. We also share similar values that drive our journey: the need for exploration & growth, playfulness, love of nature, appreciation of beauty, love of simplicity, etc. We always want to push ourselves to do better, to be better. I don’t know if there’s a secret there. Mostly practice and hard work!

Q: You’ve reached a huge milestone in selling out the NFTs on Sloika. Is this the end of the Night Reflection project? How are you processing this and what does this bring up for you creatively? Between September 2021 & May 2022, we sold 90 pieces as part of the Night Reflection collection. (18 more were gifted to our collectors) It was a big step for us and we needed to take some time to clarify what would be the next step for this collection. We knew we would keep creating, but how many more chapters did we want to add to this body of work, if any?

How could we make it evolve with us? The best way to approach it was to go out and create. That’s what we did in the past few months. Since our last mint with Sloika, we spent months on the road and created thousands of new images. We keep creating art regularly with a clear goal in mind: keep exploring, keep trying to create our best images ever. We are on fire!

Q: As you put more focus now on the secondary market, can you share ideas about what might be in store for your collectors? The key point for us is to never “abandon” a collection. We try to keep our collectors engaged so they know that there’s always something coming up. We’re currently working on a longer plan which would bring us to 2025 - the year of our tenth anniversary performing this technique.

Q: Bonus question: Favorite go-to snack and/or beverage? We actually rarely snack! We fast and feast. We usually eat only once a day. When possible, eating is a pause during the day, which can take up to 2h. We love to eat and fully appreciate the whole experience.

As far as snacks are concerned when they happen, it’s chips & chocolate!

PS - Anything else you’d like to share about what’s next? Many things are in our heads at the moment, but not much of it can be shared until it’s ready. What we can say for sure is this: There are mainly 3 pillars in our creative journey: The single-camera studio work, the multi-camera work, and the outdoor work. All these can focalize more on dance & movement art or light painting, which are our respective fields of expertise.

Sort of a spider web connecting all elements of our creative process together, we will keep creating in all these different mediums for the months & years to come.

Kim’s project Timeless is something we’ve also been putting a lot of work and energy into on top of our Night Reflection Collection lately. On so many nights recently, we would shift from one project to another in the blink of an eye as the two were slightly overlapping in time during the blue hour. We feel lucky to be able to work on very different and unique projects together.