Writer Joseph J. Airdo // Photography by Nick Pease
Regardless of which holiday you are celebrating this season, there is a pretty high probability that lights play a fairly substantial role in it.
The tradition of adorning our homes with decorative lights dates back to the 17th century when those in Germany, and later Eastern Europe, attached small candles to tree branches with pins or melted wax. European Christians also displayed burning candles in their windows, indicating that those who shared their religious beliefs were welcome to come worship with them.
During the 1880 holiday season, Thomas Edison introduced the first outdoor electric Christmas light display on the outside of his laboratory compound, which sat near a railway where, each night, countless people could behold its wonder and glory. A few years later, Edward Johnson — an inventor under Edison’s supervision — created the first string of Christmas lights, which was made out of 80 small electric bulbs.
In 1890, Johnson’s light strings were mass-produced and department stores began displaying them in the Christmas displays in their stores. Five years later, President Grover Cleveland sponsored the first electrically lit Christmas tree at the White House, bringing national attention to the trend.
The brightly lit decorations quickly caught on and, at the turn of the century in the U.S., public displays of Christmas lights in retail stores and government buildings became increasingly popular. A few decades later, when electric lights became more affordable, it became a common practice for people to decorate their homes with them each holiday season.
Today, lights symbolize many things — from solemn remembrance to a guiding hope to joyful revelry — as we use them to communicate a belief or a feeling that words alone cannot relay as succinctly or as beautifully.
Photographer Nick Pease has captured some of the best representations of lights around Arizona, which we are proud and grateful to be able to share with our readers through this month’s photo essay. It is the sincere hope of everyone at Images Arizona that they bring unto you festive reflections of whatever it is that you are celebrating this season.
About the Photographer
When Nick Pease moved from northeast Minnesota to Arizona in 2015, he spent a great deal of his free time exploring the state and taking pictures of its breathtaking beauty with his iPhone 4. Two years later, following the praise and advice of his father, Pease decided to pursue a career in photography and purchased a Canon EOS 77D as well as a couple of lenses.
“Two weeks after I bought my camera, I sold my first image,” Pease says. “It was so cool to see my own work on a canvas print. From that moment, I knew that I needed to continue doing this.”
Pease spent a couple of years learning about his camera and its various settings on his own until he crossed paths with other local photographers, from who he gained additional education and insight into the art form.
Since then, the south Tempe resident has sold numerous images to individuals across Arizona as well as to family and friends in other states, has been a finalist in two photography competitions and has published calendars showcasing his work for 2022 and 2023.
“Some of the things that photography has taught me is to be patient, to enjoy the little things in life, to savor each moment and to always be making memories,” says Pease, who also enjoys hiking and storm chasing. “Photography has also taught me that I am a very talented person and that I can make a difference in this world.
“The human experience is something I am blessed and thankful to be able to live every day. It really is something special. Not everybody is able to get out and road trip around the state or get the chance to go see five states during a given year. Not everyone gets a chance to get out and experience the world.
“I am always looking for new places to explore and I love being able to share my experiences of traveling and hiking all across the southwestern U.S. with everyone and showing them, through my art, just how awesome of a place we live in.”