Creative luminaries explore the possibilities of light for photography show in aid of Maggie’s

The electromagnetic spectrum
(Image credit: Iwan Baan, Steven Holl Architects)

Photography is the art of manipulating light: its very process depends on minute changes in the electromagnetic spectrum, often barely visible to the eye. Early modernist photographers in the 1920s were the first to experiment with different ways to record and use light to dramatic effect, reviving Fox Talbot’s photogram technique to produce x-ray like images, for example, while others, like Paul Strand, preferred to incorporate natural light into their compositions.

‘Without light there is no colour. Without light there is no life,” says Ed Freeman, a landscape architect at Reardonsmith Landscape LLP, whose photograph is included in a new exhibition, ‘Design To Shape Light’, curated by lighting designer Paul Nulty, and organised by Danish lighting manufacturer Louis Poulsen. On view at Carl Hansen & Søn’s London showroom in Clerkenwell, the exhibition explores the relationship between photography, design and architecture through light in 21 photographs by leading creatives including Ab Rogers, Tony Chambers, dRMM, Steven Holl Architects and Iwan Baan.

Photographs that have been shot on iPhones, 35mm and digital

(Image credit: Alex de Rijke)

The selection includes photographs that have been shot on iPhones, 35mm and digital, demonstrating the possibilities of the medium now. It’s a different kind of photography exhibition, evocative and personal, each contributor sharing a unique interpretation of light, and its emotional pull. It’s all for a good cause too – each of the photographs will be made available for sale through an online auction until 26 October, with all proceeds going to the Maggie’s Barts centre at St Bartholomew’s Hospital.

There’s a moody winter shot of a Venetian lagoon, a moonlit beach, a quasi-spiritual homage to Tadao Ando’s Chichu Art Museum, and a magical picture of a bubble that took 200 attempts to get right. There are scientific approaches and those who clearly look on in awe; sunrises and sunsets are juxtaposed with artificial lights. There are chinks of light that sneak through gaps and in other images, the light radiates with a blinding force.

‘If you look very carefully you will find many details like this every day, through which you can appreciate the true beauty of light,’ urges Mark Major of Spears + Major. As a collection of images, Nulty reflects that the exhibition ‘tells a visceral story about the beauty in our everyday environment’. With the clocks about to change and winter drawing the days in, it makes for uplifting viewing.

Showing flowers

(Image credit: Tony Chambers)

Showing stairs and wall

(Image credit: Claridge Architects)

Neon lights

(Image credit: James French)

The possibilities of light for photography

(Image credit: James Newton)

Explaining about light

(Image credit: Ab Rogers)

The possibilities of light for photography

(Image credit: Jestico + Whiles)

Picture of window

(Image credit: Christian Flindt)

Creative luminaries explore the possibilities of light for photography

(Image credit: Max Fraser)

The possibilities of light for photography

(Image credit: Speirs + Major)

Picture of leaf

(Image credit: Reardonsmith Landscape LLP)

‘Design To Shape Light’ is on view 10-26 October. Each photograph will be available for sale through a silent online auction with all proceeds going to Maggie’s Barts. For more information, visit the Maggie’s website and the Louis Poulsen website


Carl Hansen & Søn
16 Bowling Green Lane
London EC1R 0BU


Charlotte Jansen is a journalist and the author of two books on photography, Girl on Girl (2017) and Photography Now (2021). She is commissioning editor at Elephant magazine and has written on contemporary art and culture for The Guardian, the Financial Times, ELLE, the British Journal of Photography, Frieze and Artsy. Jansen is also presenter of Dior Talks podcast series, The Female Gaze.