While the cat’s away, the mice will play

While the cat’s away, the mice will play…hooky!

With Shelly’s away catching up with old friends, meeting new ones, taking photos of LEGO, taking about LEGO, and attending the LEGO House opening, I’ve decided to take a week off from posting. Shhh! Don’t tell her!

While the cat’s away, the mice will play…music!

While I’m here, I’ll just remind you that there’s a music themed challenge happening over at the G+ community.

While the cat’s away, the mice will play…music!
While the cat’s away, the mice will play…music!

Take the power of music and create images with your toys based on music!
Utilize songs and lyrics that inspire you to create.
Recreate your favourite singers and bands.
Take your favourite instrumental piece and interpret in plastic.
Turn your favourite figures into singers and rockers.

Be the maestro and orchestrate your masterpiece!

The image picked as the best of the month will win a special plastic prize and be featured as the community’s banner photo for the following month.

Whilst the G+ monthly challenges are nothing new, and the winner’s photo being featured on the communities’ banner the following month is the norm also, this is the first challenge that there is also a prize on offer. The first of many challenges with prizes on offer!

So what are you waiting for? Join the G+ community and get rocking!

– Brett

If you’ve made through all my blathering and ended up here, you should sign up to our weekly email round up where you’ll get a recap of all the babbling from the week.

And while you’re doing things, you should definitely join our G+ Community where we hold monthly contests with prizes and lots of other cool stuff too.

A Busman’s Holiday

I’d never heard of a busman’s holiday before? Nor had I thought I’d ever been on one!

 noun: busman’s holiday

  1. a holiday or form of recreation that involves doing the same thing that one does at work.
    “a fire crew’s Christmas outing turned into a busman’s holiday when their coach caught fire”

While Shelly is away, I thought it would be a good opportunity to take some time off from shooting to take the wheel of the good ship Toy Photographers. I’d been running low on motivation and inspiration and thought this would be the perfect chance to recharge and reenergise. And while I thought I’d relish the break, I found myself doing what I usually do, a busman’s holiday.

Shelly and I share the load of the social media management. We take turns pushing posts out to IG and Facebook. We take the reins of the newsletter on alternate months, editing and sending out the weekly recap.

Just leave the subway a station
You’re on holiday, not vacation
Frenzal Rhomb – Holiday Not Vacation

Admittedly, it was my month to send out the newsletters, and with Shelly away, I only have an extra 3 or 4 social media shares to take care of each week. And, thanks to our wonderful regular contributors here, the posts take care of themselves. But the chance to step back from my creative slump and focus on the admin seemed just the thing I needed to recharge my creativeness. Or so I thought?

a busman's holiday
a busman’s holiday

With my self-imposed break from shooting, I found myself doing what I usually do. I was planning shots, scouting locations and even documenting the sun at different times in our backyard. And whilst I never pressed the shutter button once, I’m pretty sure I took more photos in my mind that I would’ve if I was shooting.

Not picking up the camera made me think more about ideas. So many concepts rattled around in my head. Planning shots that I had no immediate intention of shooting took more elaborate twists. Tales grew from simple ideas.

So, maybe a busman’s holiday was just the ticket I needed to get things back on route again?

– Brett

Have you ever taken some time off? Did you manage to actually take a break? Or did you find yourself doing what you usually do regardless?

If you’ve made through all my blathering and ended up here, you should sign up to our weekly email round up where you’ll get a recap of all the babbling from the week.
And while you’re doing things, you should definitely join our G+ Community where we hold monthly contests with prizes and lots of other cool stuff too.

What came first?

What came first? The chicken or the egg? The lyrics or the music? The setup or the idea?

We all have ideas bubbling away in our heads. Preconceived concepts tag along as we venture out to shoot plastic. Stories are already playing out before our subjects are posed before the lens.

But, sometimes those stories meander off into something new. New ideas come to light with out subject of choice before us. Concepts and notions twist, turn and evolve into another. Often we return with our initial ideas, concepts and tales shelved for another venture; another day.

And all this is cool! This is one of the many things I love about photographing toys. I love thinking up stories. The tales and concepts that emerge excite me. I also relish the twists and turns that inevitably occur when I’m out shooting. And the wonderful surprises of never considered outcomes is one of the greatest thrills of this “lying in dirt focussing in on toys” thing we do.

However…

However, this week I was asked to provide specificity around every proposed image that I been asked to create for a client; specific, precise and exact descriptions of each photo I plan on delivering to client.

But, I can’t even do that for myself?

What came first? The notion or the emotion?

What came first: Lyrics & music, eggs & chickens?
Lyrics & music, eggs & chickens?

If I promised myself every shot I had in mind before I headed off the beach, I’d greatly disappoint myself before the sand on my knees had time to dry. If I delivered what is often a vast deviation from the proposed outcome, I’d be disenchanted as the client. And as I, the client pointed out what was initially offered compared to what was delivered, I’d feel artistically restricted as the consultant not being allowed the opportunity to expand and explore possibilities and stories.

And…

The request for detailed a synopsis of what I’d deliver was daunting. But, there was another aspect to this request to factor in.

My specific descriptions of proposed photo outcomes we to highlight toys that I didn’t have yet. Now this might not sound like another complexity cog in this proposition wheel, but for me it was.

What came first? The preconception or the perception?

When we’re lucky enough to be sent Collectable Minifigures to photograph and review, I always start planning ideas before their arrival. It’s good to plan ahead. It helps to have a schedule for shooting and locations when I’m attempting to get the review uploaded as soon as possible after their arrival.

Yet, when the box arrives and the unpacking begins, the new Minifigures more times than not, demand a photo that was never envisaged before I had them in my hands. Often, my predetermined thoughts of what a particular Minifigure deserves is far from the mark. Repeatedly, new ideas emerge and plans are rewritten in the presence of the new arrivals.

So…

So, with Kristina’s words echoing in my head, I sent off my proposed ideas for the possible outcomes of shooting toys that hadn’t had their chance to tell me their stories. I explained that without the toys to talks to me, it was difficult to grasp what stories they wanted to be told.The twisting, turning nature of how my photos evolve was also explained.

I can only assume that, if a client understands that the toys speak to me, things will work out. 

Or maybe they’ll think I’m a complete nutbag and slowly recoil from the offer, smiling politely, and avoiding any sudden movements or noises!

– Brett

Are your concepts locked in prior to shooting? Do your stories twist and change once your toys are in front of the lens? Have you ever been asked to outline a photo without understanding the subject?

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.

Appreciation for Participation

When opportunity knocks, we see a chance to show our appreciation for participation.

So often I’m amazed at how posts link together on the blog. A post about threes is followed by a post about twos. A post about the importance of Challenges precedes a post about the ripple challenge on G+. Most of these connections occur purely by chance, or do they?

Last week Kristina wrote about product photography and how it’s not for her. Shelly wrote about the merits of having a website.

These two posts happened right around the time something else exciting was happening. And they both relate to this exciting news.

Knock! Knock!

Recently, we were contacted by a Senior Content Strategist for a Digital Agency via the blog, with a desire to “include more toy photography within their content plan” for a client.

Opportunity knocks once, let’s reach out and grab it
Together we’ll nab it
We’ll hitchhike, bus or yellow cab it!

Kermit the Frog and Fozzie Bear – Movin’ Right Along

You’ll have to excuse my haziness here, but we had to sign non-disclosure agreement, so I’m being wary as to how much detail I reveal.

Hello?

With this offer, we reached out to friends of the Toy Photographers blog, those who have posted on the blog and those who had won our recent photo competitions.

Appreciation for Participation
Appreciate, don’t anthropophagite!

Whilst Shelly made a completely relevant point that a website is a fantastic place for potential customers and marketing representatives to discover your work, I’d like to point out, so is Toy Photographers!

This is not the first time we’ve been contacted with offers for commercial engagements, and I’m sure it won’t be last.

Whilst we are always flattered when these offers arise, we fully understand that they are often made based on the merits of the blog, which is a collaboration with many of you.

Who’s there?

If we can pass on opportunities for our friends to get a foot in the commercial door, of course we will. Nothing gives us more pleasure than forwarding names as appreciation for participation. As well as growing the Toy Photographers community, we endeavour to expand the opportunities for those within it.

Punch drunk from the punch clock
Opportunity never gonna knock

Rancid – Name

As Kristina found out, product photography might not be everyone’s cup of tea. I get that.

Come in!

Getting recognised for what you do, receiving appreciation for the art you produce, and having the chance to be rewarded for your participation, are wonderful things. It’s not often that these offers arise, but, by being an active participant, your chances to expand your horizons are greatly increased.

This is not a empty attempt to drive traffic our way. We genuinely want to pass on these opportunities to our community. We want to reward those who participate.

Sure, winning some Minifigures in a giveaway is cool. But maybe that’s not the only prize on offer? And yes, writing for the blog is fun. But maybe that’s just beginning of the fun?

– Brett

We ask a lot of folks why. If we’re ever asked why we do that, maybe this is the answer. Participation has the potential to pay off. Maybe this little tale of possible opportunities is the catalyst for you to join in?

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.

A photo ripple is the perfect tipple

From just a single drop, inspiration radiates outwards in a beautiful ripple.

Dave recently wrote about taking on photography challenges to replenish the creative well when it’s running dry. This month, I was lucky enough to be part of a photo challenge for the first time on G+; a photo ripple.

One person posts a photo, then tags two to post a photo following the theme. Those two then post and tag two more, and so on and so on, resulting in a wonderful ripple of photos radiating out from just one; a casual sequence, a ripple effect.

The epicentre of the ripple, and the brains behind the concept, Wara Zashi, was kind enough to share a little background behind these ripples with me….

We started the first one back in April as a replacement for the end of month event. The monthly events were just G+ events where people could submit figure photos of their liking, as opposed to the weekly event which was topic based. But even before G+ essentially killed off events, the concept was starting to languish, so I wasn’t too happy with it.

I eventually pulled the plug on events and replaced them with ripples (named after the G+ Ripple feature which I really loved).

I figured if each person is named to continue the thread and also has to name two more, it should create a little bit more motivation to participate (classic chain letter). Our community is pretty small and self contained so if the chain grew large enough, it should get to enough people. And I also wanted to see if people would start to request to participate in some manner. 🙂

We did another one for May and June at the end of each month and at that point, people slowly trickled in enough over time and participated that we thought it would be useful to just have the event start at the beginning of the month and run for the whole month. Which is why July is missing since it became an extension of the June event.

ripple: What better reminder for the middle of summer than a little time out at the water enjoying the outdoors, even with the oppressive heatwave. Complete with a nice little floatie.
“What better reminder for the middle of summer than a little time out at the water enjoying the outdoors, even with the oppressive heatwave. Complete with a nice little floatie.” – Wara Zashi

With August, I was definitely looking to expand and see where this can go outside of the community so I thought it could be fun to drag in Shelly to see where she could take it since I know she would have a completely different group of people than our community.

ripple: Rather than send Butterfly Girl to the beach with her floaty, I sent her dancing in the sprinkler with her beloved teddy bear. In the heat, what better way to cool off than some low key fun at home.
“Rather than send Butterfly Girl to the beach with her floaty, I sent her dancing in the sprinkler with her beloved teddy bear. In the heat, what better way to cool off than some low key fun at home.” – Shelly

So far, I’m pretty happy with how it’s working (hopefully the community members/participants are as well). It’s structured, and unstructured, enough that people can do what they want. Ideally I would love to somehow enforce at least a template but people seem to get the general idea of what needs to be done.

ripple: After frolicking under a sprinkler, what better way to cool off than with an icy pole whilst paddling your feet in the cool waters of a lake?
“After frolicking under a sprinkler, what better way to cool off than with an icy pole whilst paddling your feet in the cool waters of a lake?” – Brett

It’s interesting to see, as the ripple grows, how people change it over time. On the toy photography side, it seems to have especially drifted into a chain where you give reasons for recommending and add to the already existing description to explain the chain. The figure side seems to have stuck to the original template a bit more and wants to connect the new post to the previous one through the photo and description.

ripple: Babies - Kiddie Pool
“Well, when sprinklers and ponds aren’t available, and you happen to be quite small, a kiddie pool will due just nicely to beat the summer heat. Look closely and you’ll see ducky peering over the edge.” – Jennifer

I’ve only given vague hints as to how each post is supposed to connect so it’s been interesting to see it evolve.

ripple: And sometimes (once you've grown up a little) you just use a hot day to chat on a cliff, waiting for the high tide to roll in...
“And sometimes (once you’ve grown up a little) you just use a hot day to chat on a cliff, waiting for the high tide to roll in…” – Tobias

At some point, I’ll add in some new concepts, but we’ll see how it goes over time. 🙂

These wonderful ripples are like a reverse game of pass the parcel; with every step, another layer is added. As these ripples radiate throughout communities, stories twist and turn, styles merge and divide. Sometimes the ripples fade, and sometimes they journey into wonderfully, unforeseen places; just like ripples do.

Just like Dave, I find challenges are wonderful source of motivation and inspiration. Being pulled into this ripple and being invited to help it grow was definitely so.

I’ve only included a few shots from the August ripple; it’s still radiating. But, from just these handfuls of shots, you can see how a single drop can produce wonderful results.

-Brett

Thank you Wara Zashi, for sharing your words and for the fantastic ripples you generate.

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.

What if why changes from way back when?

I’ve revisited photos, but I’ve neglected to revisit the question why.

Why then?

In June 2015 I was asked “why?” A lot has changed since then.

So, with all these changes, has my reason why changed too?

Let me premise this by saying that I’m not a photographer. Heck, I don’t even own a real camera. I’m just a knucklehead with an iPhone!

Back when I first tackled the seemingly simple question, my reason why revolved around the friendships I’d made. That hasn’t changed. But my motives have grown.

Two years ago, I resisted defining what I did as art. Since then, my photos shared the walls of an art gallery with the friends that were my reason back then. So, I guess I have to accept that I create art.

Now why?

Starting Toy Photographers with Shelly has also changed my motivation and drive. There’s now a purpose and goal. My what has become so much more than just taking photos of toys and posting them online. Sure, I still do that, but it’s just a small part of what I do now. And, as my what evolves, so does my why.

Why: The more whats you have, the more whys you'll need!
The more whats you have, the more whys you’ll need!

My what has morphed into so much more that just taking photos of toys, and my why, when, how, and soon my where, have morphed along with it. And as my whats have multiplied, the whys behind those whats have too. 

Some of the origin answers remain. Friendship and fun are still driving forces in why I do this. However, they’re now accompanied by community, engagement, improvement, learning, sharing, striving, commitment, and love as reasons why. Sure, improvement and learning were probably always in there somewhere, but reasons like engagement and commitment are new additions. These new whys are directly connected to the new what of being a part of the Toy Photographers community; an exciting and invigorating what indeed!

I’ve revisited photos for the exhibition and for the challenge that Jennifer threw out. But I’d never thought to revisit the question of why I do this too.

And with that in mind, I respond to the question of “why?” with a resounding “why not?”

And beyond

As we evolve and develop, surely our reason behind our motivation varies as well? If my why was still the same as it was over two years ago, I’d either achieved it by now, or I’d failed to meet it. Either way, it needs to be revisited.

Why: A steady diet of whats and whys
A steady diet of whats and whys, with a side order of whens, whos and wheres…

As we grow, as people, as photographers, as artists, the motivation behind what we do grows also. Maybe we tick off some of our goals? Perhaps those goals change? Or maybe it’s just as simple as we change, and therefore so do our reasons?

– Brett

Have you ever asked yourself why? Maybe you’d be interested in writing about it for us? If you are, let me know. We’re always looking for new voices to share here.

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.

The Ninjago Movie Minifigures Winner(s)

With over 300 posts on Instagram and Google+, our task to pick just one Ninjago Movie Minifigures Winner wasn’t easy. Shelly and I managed to narrow it down to three favourites each. After all, three’s the magic number, as Shelly pointed out!

With our votes in, there was one shot that we’d both chosen as a favourite. Continue reading The Ninjago Movie Minifigures Winner(s)

Playtime to Stay Prime

Whether it’s taking time, or making time, getting some toy playtime can lead to some toy photography time that you didn’t know about. Playtime with toys can be not only cathartic, it can also be invigorating and energising when it comes to finding toy photography stimulus.

toy
[toi]
noun
1. an object, often a small representation of something familiar, as an animal or person, for children or others to play with; plaything
2. something that serves for or as if for diversion, rather than for serious practical use.
adjective
3. made or designed for use as a toy.
verb
4. to amuse oneself; play.

My desk at work is strewn with a constantly changing selection of LEGO and toys. It’s where a lot of my inspiration comes from. I bring a new batch of toys each week to play with and see if their stories emerge from our playtime. I’ll find myself playing with LEGO or figures while I try to figure out coding problems, mentally map out solutions, debate whether I should send that email or censor it, or sometimes when I probably should be paying more attention during phone calls. Continue reading Playtime to Stay Prime

The Ninjago Movie Collectable Minifigures Giveaway

It’s giveaway time! We’re giving away a complete set of 20 Minifigures from The Ninjago Movie Collectable Minifigures series.

The Giveaway Rules

For your chance to win, simply post a photo of Ninjago, Ninjas, Chimjago (Chima/Ninjago mash up), Dragons, or any photo related to the covert agents of Japan or the Ninjago universe.

The Ninjago Movie Collectable Minifigures Giveaway Giveaway
Chimjago: an example of a Chima/Ninjago mash up.

The competition is open to all toys, and will run on Instagram and G+. Whether you post on Instagram or G+, make sure to add the #tp_ninjago tag so we can find your entries. Continue reading The Ninjago Movie Collectable Minifigures Giveaway

The Ninjago Movie Collectable Minifigures

Our friends at LEGO sent us a box of the Ninjago Movie Collectable Minifigures to review. Here it is…

Lloyd Garmadon

Lloyd (or L-Loyd according to his dad) comes in a green hoodie printed top, with a new headpiece for the hood with his fringe poking out below, which allows for greater head movement.

The Ninjago Movie Collectable Minifigures
The Ninjago Movie Collectable Minifigures: Lloyd Garmadon

His black jeans are held up with a brown belt. The silver spoon and white bowl with blue trim and dragon motif are great accessories. Continue reading The Ninjago Movie Collectable Minifigures