When Life [L] imitates Art

Time wounds all heels

Sure, we’re all familiar with the anti-mimesis (WARNING: link may contain traces of Hannah Montana) philosophical position that “life imitates art far more than art imitates life”, but what about when “life [l]imitates art”?

And sure, we’re all familiar with the fact that I like to make up words like “limitates”, but you get what I mean.

I shudder to use the phrase “time poor“, but I seem to be in an endless scuffle with my days to find the time to photograph toys.

Tell me is my time wasted?
Or am I okay?
Would you be friends with me on any other day?
Death From Above 1979 – If We Don’t Make It, We’ll Fake It

Sometimes life gets in the way of fun

Lizzi has written about her 365 toy photography project. The idea of taking a photograph a day does my head in!

Don’t get me wrong, I admire those who can commit to these projects, but I know that they’re just not for me. I wish they were. I wish I could dedicate time every day to toy photography, but if Lizzi can agonise over getting a photo done at 10pm, I’d be the one in the foetal position as the clock threatens to strike 12, because of a lack of time, a lack of inspiration, or simply because I’d been distracted and forgotten all about the daily pledge I’d made. Oh look! A butterfly…

a lego wrestler in a bunny mask running with a carrot
I’m late, I’m late, for a very “time poor can’t” date!

Sometimes fun can’t be scheduled

Shelly has asked if we find photographs or they find us? Personally, I think it’s a combination of the two, but I don’t think photos will find me if I give them a calendar invite to attend.

I’ve tried to block out time specifically for toy photography. An attempt to dedicate a portion of my day to planning, scheming, shooting or editing. If I’ve got a cache of photos to edit, this time is utilised productively. If not, all this seems to achieve is a failed attempt to force inspiration. It’s a botched bid to force it into a little rectangle in my calendar. And we all know inspiration isn’t rectangular! So that never ends well.

But hey, at least my calendar is full, giving the illusion that I’ve been busy and productive!

When I get the time
When I get the guts
To live my life for me
And do what I want to do
I’d be the friend that you said you once knew
Descendents – Get The Time

So, blocking out time in my day and expecting inspiration to turn up, doesn’t work for me. Neither does taking on a daily challenge, thus forcing me into finding time.

Maybe I should just be happy that I get to photograph toys when I do get the time? Maybe I should take note of these ‘time lean‘ moments and relish the time I that I do get?

How do you find the time? Do you set aside time, or do you ‘strike while the iron is hot’ and photograph when inspiration hits?

If you enjoy posts like this, we invite you to join our G+ community.

Don’t forget to subscribe to the blog to get notified when we have a new post ready for you.

*It should be noted that I had intended to shoot more accompanying photos for this post, but didn’t have time. 


  1. I have that same problem. I really admire people completing 365 projects. I wish I could too but I know I can’t. I tried in December 2015 to take photos for 25 days using the LEGO Star Wars Advent Calendar and it was hell. Overall I don’t mind having to take a picture everyday. It’s probably not such a bad idea to be forced to take photos even when tired or lacking motivation. But what I hated was to have to take everyday one photo that’s good enough to be posted online. There are days that are not good and any photo I take is trash. Sometimes it happens multiple times in a row and it has a very bad psychological impact on me. When that happens it usually means it’s time to take a break, do something else and then one week or two after everything goes better. Right now I’m in one of those moments where I have a photo in mind but there is something that goes wrong every time. It would be awful if tomorrow I had to try again after having failed for the past couple of days.

    • brett_wilson

      I couldn’t agree more! A photo a day, even for Xmas frightens me. I know that my motivation and inspiration are fitful at best. Being ‘forced’ to post a photo that I’m not 100% happy with just because of a pact I’d made with myself is something that would haunt me too. The ‘pressure to perform’ is something that I used to feel, but now, I’m content to wait for the right post, rather than posting because I feel I have to.

  2. Time is an interesting concept. Very abstract yet folks tend to understand it. I have found that if I don’t have time for something it is generally because I didn’t find the time for it. There seems to be no worry about time when I watch tv at night to unwind. I can go through like three epsipdes of some show before I realize I need to hit the hay. I guess time is something to utilize better. We all have the same amount; and it’s mostly our decision on how to spend it. I also use toy photography as a hobby and don’t really spend as much time on it as I could. Whenever I have a spare moment, I stop and get the camera and figures out.

    • brett_wilson

      Agreed! Maybe it’s more about better use of time, rather than looking for time that isn’t missing, it’s just being used on other stuff. Prioritise, rather than agonise!

  3. Shelly Corbett

    Whenever I read an essay from a self-help guru or listen to some inspirational TED talk I often here that organizing your time in blocks is the way to be hyper productive. Ha! As if life is that neat and tidy! As a mom, wife, business partner I have many responsibilities I have to perform that have a higher priority than toy photography. I will admit that I sometimes let those priorities slide as I skip off and take advantage of great weather, but I could never schedule my ‘creative time’. I satisfy myself with a to-do list that balances the creative with the mundane. Everyday I try to move some part of my ‘creative’ life forward, but I’m not always successful.

    A 365! I’ve seen too many of those crash and burn or worse yet, finish and the person never picks up the camera again they are so burned out. Of course there are exceptions to every rule, Harley Quin is one of them. Lizzi is off to a great start and Sacha1982 has just started on her second year of 365. So I know there are people who thrive on the deadlines. I think I’m more like you, the pressure would kill me and destroy my love of the genre.

    I say relish the lean times. Use them to think about the next photo; think about the story you want to tell; read about a new technique you want to try; listen to a TED talk or a cool podcast; seek inspiration for when you do have the time. Because if your like me, you’re probably thinking about that next photo, even if you don’t realize it.

    • brett_wilson

      Neat and tidy life? HA! As if?!
      Yeah, the whole husband, dad, work thing isn’t too flexible when it comes to blocking out time for plastic. “Dad, I need you to drive me to karate.” “Can it wait? I have a date with some toys.”
      I admire the few (@harleyquin in particular) that manage to keep the 365 thing fresh. As with you, deadlines to produce would quickly destroy my passion and enthusiasm.
      I think you’ve hit the nail on the head when you say relish the lean times. These times, when there seems like there’s no time, can still be time for thought.
      Hardly surprisingly, as I type this, song lyrics pop into my head…
      “In a desperate mind, little gardens grow. They grow very wide, they grow very tall.” 😀

  4. Pinar (@pinar.of.brickland)

    Planning barely works for me. In November, I created a monthly challenge to take Lego photos, and made it such a way that it can be repeated. The first month was okay, with a little cheating (I took out several photos on one day when I was outside). I wanted to continue the second month, but couldn’t. Didn’t want to. When it comes to photography, I usually let the inspiration come to me. I did complete a 365 project once, but it was never supposed to be a year long project. A monthly drawing challenge I liked so much that I wanted to go on. Even with that, if I force myself to draw, force myself to find time, the drawings come out bad. I think it’s safe to say the force is not with us when it comes to inspiration & creativity.

    • brett_wilson

      “The force is not with us when it comes to inspiration & creativity”. Brilliant! Forcing creativity rarely ends positively for me either. On the rare occasions it does, it takes far more effort than it really should, and it’s never as fun. And I think it shows in the photos just how much I’ve agonised over them.

  5. On the one hand, yeah, the whole daily journal pages, Inktober, Artist’s Way challenge doesn’t do a thing for me. I have friends who swear by them and attest to their value but it strikes me as too clinical. The idea of “I will do XXX every day until…” feels like work. And I have been in the position of “Holy crap it’s 11:30pm and…”

    But I did NaNoWriMo a couple years back and, while what I wrote won’t ever find a publisher, I had a blast! It was a challenge to write 2k words in a day and there were days I didn’t quite feel it… until I sat down at the computer and, lo, another day’s quota done. And some of my Artist’s Way friends looked at what I did and said “No, that just feels like work!” Your mileage may vary.

    And, without thinking about it consciously, I have become someone who takes at least one photo a day. Not always toys, but a photo: candids, food, street art… if you follow me on instagram (blakeleyphoto), you’ll see the range I play in. It’s rarely something I think about. Hell, the days I don’t take pictures are the days I’ll tell my therapist about, it’s that significant for me.

    It’s the same as trying to get in shape. Some people love the gym, some people prefer running in the park, some need to box.

    I dunno, I always back to something Warren Ellis once wrote about in his blog. Someone wrote him talking about an idea they had for a comic and they weren’t sure if they should pitch it or if they liked the monthly schedule and so on and so forth. Ellis’s response basically boiled down to: “If you’re writing me about this instead of doing it, they you clearly don’t want it THAT badly.”

    • brett_wilson

      Wow! Such a wonderfully insightful response Chris. I completely agree with everything you’ve said. I guess it all boils down to finding what you really want to do, and finding what works for you to achieve those goals. And maybe finding out that there isn’t a clear ‘thing’ is that thing?! Thanks for sharing your thoughts mate.

  6. Toy photography is both my hobby and my inspiration – it keeps me creative in those times where I have 5 minutes to shoot, not a 5-hour drive through the mountains. That said, count me among those who would love to try a 365 and know darn well it’d never happen; I’m grateful to know I am not alone in this. While my weekday schedule tends to be pretty uniform, what I actually DO in a day can vary wildly between appalling boredom and ohmygodmyhairisonfire. By the time I get home, evenings can find me either merrily cooking a new recipe or crawling off to bed with a box of cereal. Much as would love to commit daily, I take what I can when I can, and keep a notebook handy for ideas and inspirations that hit when I am trapped in a meeting.

    • brett_wilson

      Wonderful! I’d fail miserably at a 365 project, or my photos would! Like you, some days I get home and just want to switch off my brain. On days like these, I’d hate to have to think about photos, and I’d probably end up hating the photos too. I much prefer to grasp inspiration when it hits and run with it. Thanks for your comment Ryan.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.