The magic of light with Judith Khlk

Meet your mentor Judith Khlk!

Judith Khlk adds shimmer and sparkle in the most beautiful of ways. Her images are pure magic, whimsical visual poetry…one look through her instagram feed @judith.khlk can attest to that, inspiration galore. Judith takes us through what inspires her and how she adds that bit of lit magic to her images to take them to the next level.

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Q&A with Judith

Hey Judith! Thanks for joining us as a mentor for our Creatively Squared challenge about ‘light ‘em up’, adding light to your images. We love it when you enter our challenges so we are absolutely thrilled to have you mentor the community. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Thank you so much for inviting me to join you on this wonderful topic. My name is Judith, I’m a graphic designer and a mom of a two year old boy. Both are influencing me the most when taking pictures for my Instagram journey. I live in Dubai and after feeling at the beginning uninspired due to the lack of seasons and nature I embraced with time the unique beauty around me and the possibilities of creating whimsical pictures with objects of our daily life.

Can you tell us about your creative process, how do you come up with ideas for what to share next on your Instagram account?

Most of my ideas are inspired by my surroundings. Places spark ideas, funny shaped fruits in the supermarket or swings on the playground. I try to create everything organically while we head out on little adventures. Most of the time I have my camera with me I’ll also have little props to play with and to use them in my pictures. Funnily enough when I head out with an idea already in mind, almost certainly, I’ll choose at the end a very different picture or perspective I had originally intended to take.

This challenge is all about adding light to your images. You are so talented at adding light to create magical and whimsical scenes. What are your three top tips for adding light?

My top tip of capturing beautiful natural light outdoors is to wait for the golden hour. The moment the sun is so low everything is covered with warm soft light is just magical. Another thing I like to do is to use battery operated fairy lights. I will put them in jars to add depth or to light up a small area. Last, don't be afraid to add luminosity in the editing process post production. Choose the mood you want to create and emphasize on that. Follow the natural light in your photography for an authentic feeling. You can always add bokeh, lense flares, sparkles of fairy dust for the extra tad of magic.

Do prefer to add light whilst taking your photos [fairy lights etc] or do you mainly do add light in post production?

I like to mix both. A picture is more authentic if there has been a real light source in it. While editing it I play with the intensity of that light and add more if I like the way it looks.

Find out more about how Judith creates her whimsical images in our Creative Journal post: Composing magical fairytale images with a touch of sparkle

Any tricks / apps which aid in adding light to your captures?

Bokeh Cam Fx or KiraKira+ are wonderful to add light spots and sparkles on your phone. When editing in Photoshop I like to use Overlay images that can be purchased on Etsy and many other platforms. They come in usual with a black background and when the blende mode is changed in Photoshop they turn transparent.

What equipment do you use?

I use a Nikon D750 for most of my pictures, sometimes my Iphone and a tripod when I take videos for cinemagraphs. I always edit in Photoshop and Lightroom.

They say never work with children or animals but you often include your beautiful little boy in your captures. Do you have any tips to help us work with our little ones and include them more in our images?

Thank you very much. Yes, just go with it. Don’t expect a certain picture, what I’ve really learned is that you rarely get the picture you want with kids but you get many, many better ones if you go with the flow. Give them something to hold and see how their play evolves. And if you have a wild child like me capture them sleeping. That’s actually the only time I can adjust, reshoot and rearrange the setting of a picture.

As creators we are always looking for ways to do our best work with whatever materials, low budget or environment we have available to us. What’s your number one home studio hack for those that are facing the same challenges?

Turn your surroundings into your advantage and make it your unique style. Everyone's life is different and our environment individual. Look for the beauty in nature where you live, take pictures in front of interesting doors you pass by every day or bring vintage teacups in your grandmas house to life. Try to shoot the same things from different perspectives with different light. At home I think to fix a camera to the ceiling is an incredible hack. Build a little cardboard box and place your camera inside. Unfortunately, this has never been an option for me as our ceilings are too high but the endless opportunities always spin in my mind especially for stop-motion videos and large flatlays.

You certainly make the most of living in Dubai and using your location as a backdrop. Do you have any tips for making the most of where you live?

Dubai is an incredible place for lifestyle photography, pictures of lovely cafes, architecture and amazing food. Not so much for my favourite, images of nature and flowers. Only when I stopped to chase something I can’t create I started to embrace the photo opportunities around me. High grass on the side of the road, big rocks at the beach or groceries in the supermarket for my flatlays. If you still run after something that is not given where you live, it’s good to pause and embrace the pretty corners around you.

We can all relate to falling in and out of love with Instagram, how has your account evolved over time?

At the beginning most of my pictures were based on the afternoon naps of my son. And if he wouldn’t have outgrown them so quickly I probably still would take daily pictures of his slumbers. I knew very early that they won’t last very long and shortly after his second birthday he skipped them totally. That's the reason I’ve always created a variety of pictures, as my forced perspective images, flatlays or outdoor photography. With time those kind of pictures have taken over and I only post sometimes sleeping scenes that I take now in the mornings.

Judith xx

Judith is the guest mentor for our June 17-23 creative challenge ‘Light ‘em up’ and will be featuring her favourite entries and feedback on the @creativelysquared Instagram account. You can find Judith at @judith.khlk or simply click on each image to take you directly to the post on Instagram. We invite you to join Judith and the rest of the Creatively Squared community and light things up. Hit the button below for entry information and full resources.