Why by Castleinthepool

First and foremost, I would like to thank Shelly for inviting me to be a part of this blog and the ongoing “Why?” series where Lego photographers alike share about why they take photos of Lego.

I remember my first Lego set was a Castle themed one, which I had gotten for Christmas. It really didn’t have much significance because Lego to me then was just a building toy. I found myself more attracted to action figures instead. From Power Rangers, Street Sharks, Biker Mice from Mars, Double Dragon, Marvel/DC superheroes to TMNT, I had at least one action figure character from almost every 90’s cartoon series.

So how did I end up doing Lego Photography you might ask? A big part of it has to do with my undeniable love for superheroes and comics. With the release of the 2012 Avengers movie, I picked up my first Lego set in ages; the set was #6867, Loki’s Cosmic Cube Escape. I remember being amazed by the amount of detail on that Iron Man minifigure, especially the faceplate that could be flipped open to show Tony Stark’s face. How could so much awesome be embedded in one tiny figure? I felt the need to do something with it. I wanted to capture this excitement, and with my iPhone 3GS I took a shot of Mr. Stark in a running pose supported by a minifigure base plate stand tile, and uploaded the picture on my Instagram account with the exact caption:

2. First Instagram photo

“Jarvis, I’m ready to roll.” #Lego #marvel #iron man #avengersmovie #hobby #collection

I thought that with the use of hashtags, this would be an interesting way to share my creativity with the world.

When I started out, I had only one goal in mind for each photo that I took; the mini figure HAD TO look organic and alive. A Lego mini figure’s articulation, as you already know, is pretty limited (head spins 360 degrees, arms and legs move up and down). So how do you make them feel alive? The answer was simpleto make them assume more human-like behaviors. And what do superheroes do most of the time? They run. That was all I really did for the first couple of shots, each time trying to perfect the look of a running minifigure. As I got along, I did away with the base plate stand and added a new weapon into my arsenalBlu-Tack (putty-like pressure sensitive adhesive). Blu-Tack holds the feet of the mini figure firmly to the ground, and when well hidden, adds to the illusion of it running. It was just perfect.

I prefer not to use digital editing, and many of the poses that I pull off, are practical effects done with Blu-Tack and a stand (made up of 3 – 4 round cylinder 1 by 1 pieces that act as a support when required for flying poses). The angles of my shots also play a massive role in the adopted style, especially so with the way I pose minifigures, concealing any Blu-Tack used. The only other thing I needed was colored paper, which is used as a simple backdrop for the mini figures, and the rest was up to me to create. In many ways, I view the whole process similar to how a comic book artist would draw his sketches within a panel. Every pose was an experiment, and as much as I could, I tried not to repeat them.

3. Superman flying

4. Superman flying tutorial

With all of that said, I brought in ‘storytelling’ as another element into my style of photography. I believe, “Every picture tells a story and each picture is worth a thousand words.” But what makes a picture worthy of a thousand words? I begin by putting together various accessories (e.g. a bench, a brick wall, a cellphone, etc.) to create a make-believe environment. I allow the characters to interact with this environment to tell a story, and invite the audience to take part in interpreting the message behind the photos. This minimalist approach would then go on to become one of my primary styles—most noticeably in #thelittlemanandhispetfrog series.

The Little Man is essentially an extension of myself that I use to reflect some of my life’s experiences.  

The usual setup typically involves all of the above mentioned with the addition of different light sources occasionally (mini table lamps and tap lights) to add a layer of realism. The only real upgrade in equipment would be my trusty iPhone, from a 3Gs, 4s to now a 5s which even I think is too old for 2016! I should really get an upgrade.

Lego photography has not only become an outlet for me to unleash the inner superhero fanboy, it has also become a platform where ideas, emotions and personal opinions can be subtly expressed in the magic of storytelling through this form of photography. To an extent, it is the ideal getaway.

Keith

10. Jedi Little Man

9. Deadpool

8. Benny

7. Bee Man

6.Superman

5. The Little Man

0 Comments

  1. Colin Burden

    What I adore about your IG feed, Keith, is the cleverness; achieving all your special effects in the shot, rather than after-shot processing, which I’m pleased to hear that it is the way you prefer to do things.

    Especially with the little man and his pet frog, it initially looks so simple, but then I notice the position of a head and I think, “how did you get that so right?” It’s at this point one notices the cleverness. Many have copied the idea, but no-one else seems to be able to get the correct positioning, that you achieve.

    Always like seeing a new thelittlemanandhispetfrog shot, a particular favourite.

    Cole

    • castleinthepool

      Thank you so much Cole, I guess a part of it has got to do with the countless hours spent fiddling with minifigures, which has now paid of in making them look natural in front of the camera. I actually had to buy a replacement body for the little man because his joints got so loose! I’ll be sure to post more of his photos when time permits (:

    • castleinthepool

      Thank you Leila! It is an absolute privilege to be here (: And so I’ve heard! My only dilemma is deciding between the regular and a plus, expecting to upgrade it as soon as the coming weekend. I’m excited.

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