BTS, a LEGO photography project

What goes on BTS when Toy Photographers work with LEGO?

We’ve all seen Janan’s incredible LEGO Ideas Voltron photographs. Or Tom’s amazing TRON photography. Maybe you’ve seen Robert’s LEGO Ideas Ship in a Bottle photograph? Or Shelly’s gorgeous Valentine’s Day and snowy day photos of the LEGO Ideas Ship in a Bottle. Or perhaps you’ve seen Marco or Leila’s LEGO Ninjago dragon images? But what you don’t see is what goes on behind the scenes when we work with LEGO on these photography projects.

How long?

Shelly and I have chatted many times about the question “How long did it take you to take that photo?” It’s a question that is impossible to answer. When does the stopwatch start and when does it end? Is the answer 1/250 of a second, or whatever shutter speed your camera is set to? “Click!” What about all the planning that goes into a photograph? “It took me two weeks.” Or the post editing? “Oh, about 30 minutes.” Should a lifetime of study and learning to hone your craft be included in your answer? “Actually, this one has taken me 30+ years to create.”

BTS
BTS

Well, here’s an overview of a LEGO photography project to give you a glimpse of all the unseen work that goes into making it happen.

BBTS (Behind, Behind The Scenes)

We’ve been incredibly lucky to work with LEGO and LEGO Ideas on some amazing photo projects. And as we are in the middle of two more now, I thought it apt to give you a glimpse of what we and LEGO do to make these happen.

Mette, Marketing Integration Manager at The LEGO Group, was kind enough to give us a little glimpse at all the unseen work that goes on, even before we hear from them!

Well, we talk to the LEGO Creator Expert marketing and creative team about relevant opportunities to collaborate with the community. This also includes talking about the opportunity to run a contest on LEGO Ideas.

Once we’ve agreed that a project like this would be relevant, we speak to the LEGO social media team to align on editorial fit of the photos, and timing.

Then we reach out to you to ask if you’re interested and if you are we send through the brief and products.

/* insert our involvement here */

Once you send through the photos, we watermark them with the photographers’ preferred name or username. We do this to ensure the photographer gets the credit for the work.

BTS (Behind The Scenes)

Shelly or I are contacted by LEGO or LEGO Ideas, with the offer to photograph a particular set or set of sets. These offers are accompanied with a project brief and a due date for the delivery of the photos. We are also informed of how many photographers we can include in the project. Then we get to work!

We’ll discuss the sets offered and attempt to match toy photographers to them, and to the brief. Once we have a list of potential photographers, we contact them to gauge their interest, their schedule, and their commitment to delivering their photographs by the deadline. Once we have our team of photographers, we forward their mailing details to LEGO.

As we wait for the LEGO sets to arrive to all the photographers, the group discusses their intended photos. This way we try to ensure LEGO receive a variety of images to pick from. Questions naturally come up as we discuss. That’s when Shelly and I act as the middle person, forwarding queries to LEGO and then returning with their answers to the group.

As sets begin arriving with the photographers, ideas are discussed, intended photographs morph as the sets are built, new ideas come to mind and photos are shared amongst the group, for review, feedback and inspiration.

When the photographers have completed their photos, Shelly and I collect and title them with the photographer’s name and submit them to LEGO, together with the photographer’s SoMe details for crediting.

*I’m sure I’ve forgotten something, but as I said, we’re in the midst of two of these photography projects and my brain not work too good!

BTS (Big Thanks Squad)

Although this sounds like a lot of work, and it is, the teams we’ve assembled for all of the LEGO photography projects we’ve worked on have made all our BTS work less of a chore! So from Shelly and I, thank you guys! And a huge thanks goes to the team at LEGO and LEGO Ideas that we deal with, in particular Mette, Maria, Kristina, Connie and Darryl. Thank you for these wonderful opportunities!

So next time you see a photo posted by LEGO or LEGO Ideas from a Toy Photographers member, take a second to appreciate all the hard work that goes on BTS. And then marvel at the wonderful end results!

– Brett

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13 Comments

  1. Thanks for this article Brett. Quite a fascinating read into the BTS work that goes into these Lego shoots. I had no idea that LEGO regularly approach the community for projects – I had always assumed it was privately arranged contracts with individual photographers.
    Food for thought and certainly a reason to try for a higher standard in my own work, I would love an opportunity like this…
    Thank you for sharing this insight.

    • brett_wilson

      Thanks Doug. It’s always nice to hear we’re appreciated…especially at times like now when we’re swamped with these projects, both managing and photographing… exhales!

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