Wikitoybox

Its hard to believe that the great Las Vegas Toy Photograper meet up is less than two weeks away! A small idea conceived amongst friends so many months ago is about to take place. Besides seeing old friends,  I am looking forward to meeting three long time Instagram friends. I have already talked about Captain Kaos and Krash_Override and today I want to introduce you to Ki Chen otherwise known as Wikitoybox. Ki is a breath of fresh air on Instagram. Not only does she take wonderful photos with her iPhone, she designs her own toys and is a positive voice within the toy community.

Ki has created her own line of resin toys around colorful poop. In a community dominated by guys I am sure you can image that these have been very popular. (I hear she will be bringing them with her to Vegas and I will have to pick up a few more.)

I Poop When I Steal by Ki Chen
I Poop When I Steal by Ki Chen

I am always impressed with what Ki can accomplish with her phone; she is a master of the photo edit. She knows when to use those specialty photography applications to benefit the overall image rather than overwhelm it.

I Swear it Wasn't Me! by Ki Chen
I Swear it Wasn’t Me! by Ki Chen

I find I am drawn to toy photographers that mix up their feeds with more than just Lego toys. There is so much happening in the collectable toy universe that it is fun to see what is new and has people excited.

Optimus Needs Help With the Level on Zelda by Ki Chen
Optimus Needs Help With the Level on Zelda by Ki Chen

Sometime you see a shot that is just plain beautiful on every level,  like this image of a dunny being painted by HO model railroad people. The lightening, sense of scale and short depth of field make this a really fantastic image; one of my favorites by Ki.

There’s Always Room for Improvement by Ki Chen

Of course it is not lost on me that Ki is one of the most respected members of the toy photography community. She is a wonderful photographer, dedicated toy designer and she commands the respect of her peers within the community through her gentle and kind nature.

Ki Chen is one of those amazing people who make the toy community a better place and I look forward to taking our online friendship to a new level.

~ xxsjc

Krash_Override

The epic toy photography meet-up in Las Vegas, NV is less than five weeks away. I have already written about Captain Kaos who I am excited to meet; but Matt is not the only one I am looking forward to meeting. I am also excited that Dennis Taylor, otherwise know as Krash_Override on Instagram, will be joining us!

Dennis is one of the nicest people on IG and certainly one of the most talented people I have encountered. Not only does he take incredible photos, he makes his own unique toys. Just imagine toys made by a nicer version of Sid from Toy Story, but just as beautifully twisted.

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Dennis’s feed is a mixture of toy photography, custom builds in progress and new toy purchases. Basically an eclectic mix of toy fun. There is a constancy to all this madness though. Every monday morning I wake up and I am greeted by a photo of Shipwreck hung over from another weekend of debauchery. This has been going on so long I don’t think it would be Monday without seeing a new photo.

Mixed into his wonderfully gallery are photos of custom toys in various states of deconstruction. I enjoy watching the creative process take place, all the way from a new batch of less than stellar toys sent to him by friends, crazy half finished mash-ups, all the way to the often breathtaking finished creations. The transformation is absolutely fascinating and many times I can’t help but laugh at the wacky mashups that somehow always work.

It is easy to get side tracked by Dennis’s creative custom toys and forget he is an incredibly talented toy photographer. He really has an emotional connection to his toys and it shows through in his photography.

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It will be my absolute pleasure to spend the weekend shooting beside him, talking shop and swapping photo tips.

As Smeagol says: Vegas or Bust!

~ xxsjc

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If you are interested in joining us in Vegas, there is still time!

Have you ever tried to make your own custom toy?

Captain Kaos

In less than two months I will have the pleasure of heading to Las Vegas, NV, for a toy photographers meet up. When I started planning this event with my friends Dinoczars, Bricksailboat and +LEGO Wiiman I had no idea anyone would be interested in joining us.

So imagine my elation when one of my favorite toy photographers, Matt Rhode (otherwise known as  x_capatain_kaos_x) was one of the first to commit! Matt is one of the more interesting and best known characters active in the Instagram toy community. 
I’ve been following the good Captain for much of my nearly three years on Instagram. I’ve watched both his photography and storytelling skills grow. His mastery of the “flying shot” is nothing less than stunning. I think there are very few people who can make an inert bit of plastic look as alive as this guy can. 
His Stormtroppers are not the hapless stooges of Vader, but fun loving daredevils that live life to the fullest. Whether they are cliff diving or Para-Leafing they make the most of what they have (and I never doubt for a minute that they are actually doing all these things). His flying shots are a constant source of inspiration to me.

Successful Drop by Matt Rohde
Even though Matt has a wonderful cast of recurring characters, Stan the Stormtrooper, Frank from Donnie Darko and Gojira to name a few, my favorite is the Skeleton from Jason and the Argonauts. His quest to find Winter and slay him is priceless on every level: the staging, the story line, his never ending alcohol stupor all combine for pure poetry. I look forward to more crazy antics from this lovable character.

Why Me? by Matt Rohde

Of course it’s not all fun and games in Matt’s world, especially when the going gets rough. I can’t help but think his military background leads an authenticity to his battle scenes that few other photographers can match. I will admit his story lines can get too violent for my tastes (and the exuberance for the violence exhibited in the comments by his admirers I find a little disturbing), but I realize that this only reflects the world we live in. As I find myself retreating into my own form of magical realism it is good to know that there are other photographers willing to keep it far more real.
It will be interesting to see how we all get along when we meet up in Las Vegas. It is risky to take the anonymity out of our friendships, but I am sure that our mutual respect will carry us through. 
If you’re interested in seeing how this all plays out in person, feel free to join us in Las Vegas in January, we can always find room for one more. In the mean time head over the @x_captain _kaos_x on Instagram and check out his toy photography and all those beautiful stories in detail. 
~ xxsjc

Have you ever meet someone you have followed on Instagram and how did it go?
Who do you follow on Instagram that you would love to meet in person? 

The Foolish Lego

As the weekend comes to a close I feel good about what I accomplished.  My project has moved forward and I have a doable to-do list ready for the start of the week. My list does includes three additional photos that I am waiting on the weather to finish, but that is tomorrows problem.

All of this does not mean that I didn’t do a fair amount of diversionary activities in spite of my productivity. I finally read the entire Foolish Lego web comic. This comic was created by Dwaas, a Dutch AFOL who is almost through his second 365 challenge photo and started his web comic back in August of 2013. Just thinking about what he has accomplished makes me feel a little foolish for procrastinating on my own deadlines.

Once I had back read the Foolish Lego I followed a link on his blog and discovered a treasure trove of Lego Comics on the Brick Comic Network. It’s literally a one stop shop for all my procrastination needs. I feel I can almost look forward to the next big deadline that I will undoubtedly try to avoid.

The next time you are cruising the internet looking for a diversion, check out Foolish Lego and the other Lego comics. I hope you will find them as entertaining and inspiring as I did.

~ xxsjc

Do you have a favorite Lego comic strip?
Did you have a productive weekend?

Beauty in the little things by Dwaas

Legojacker

The Poetry of the Streets

There is

a thrill to walking
the empty city
at dawn,
plastic hidden,
feeling the cold
biting your neck
racing the morning light
as it creeps over the tops
of the buildings.
There is a quiet
that follows
as you slip into
dirty laneways
dripping with
brightly coloured
street art,
and walls
plastered
in the scrawl
of invisible souls.
Choose a spot.
Choose a figure.
Shoot.
Repeat.
At first
you may not see
the poetry
of the streets
alive with toys,
but then it comes,
tiny drifting souls
echoing desperate
cries and laughter
among the everyday debris.
Solitary
back alley visits
shooting
unfeeling plastic
by the gram
to feel
a shared humanity
in a world
turning faceless
by the second.
~ Legojacker

Avanaut

“The First Attempt” by Avanaut

Why do I take photographs of Lego? That is a question that took me by surprise a couple of weeks ago. I realized I had never asked myself that question before. Finding the answer was not easy, and it took a brief conversation with my wife for me to see it.

I am photographing Lego because I am a never-was movie director making a living outside the movie industry. That’s what my wife said, and it pretty much sums it up. See, I always loved movies. Star Wars, obviously, was huge, but many others as well, classics and contemporary. As a kid I made some movies myself with my dad’s Super-8 film camera, but film was expensive and my dad did not allow me to hack the camera’s filmport to produce a widescreen format picture. My movies were not very good; a widescreen wouldn’t have improved them, but still. I would build miniature sets and models to shoot, but the miserable camera could not focus on anything, since it had no macro. I grew up watching great movies and reading all about them. As a teenager I subscribed to Starlog, Cinemagic, and Cinefantastique. Cinefex, Premiere and Empire came along a little later. I’m soaked with that stuff; it’s in my DNA. I sometimes dream in 2.39:1.

That was a long time ago.

When I stumbled into photographing Lego Star Wars in 2009, I quickly connected to those times when I dreamed of making movies. I soon incorporated into the photos many of the cinematic ideas I had toyed with in my youth: widescreen, smoke, aerial particles, snow, blizzards, tight closeups and stories — the short stories that I like to write to go with the photos. I think this through via cinema; even my “Leftovers & Alternatives” album in Flickr is allegoric to a DVD “deleted scenes” extra. Lego is a perfect medium for all this. It’s playful, and there’s so much to choose from. You can have a minifigure on a piece of a coloured paper and still make a strong photo with that; yet there’s everything from a coffee cup to the Death Star to add, if you like.

This soon became a sort of creativity outlet, a free turf to express ideas I could not use in my day job as an illustrator. I see my photographs as single-frame plays I can write, produce, direct and shoot, but with characters and concepts I grew up with. In a way, I’m exploring an unfulfilled career path, but with Lego and present day tools, like the DSLR camera. It’s old but it’s new. It’s perfect!

~ Vesa Lehtimäki

“Breaking in the Tauntaun (Revised & Rejected) by Avanaut
“Last Ship to Rendezvous Point” by Avanaut

 

Balakov

Why?

Why do I take photographs of small plastic figures?

Well, I’m not doing it to change the world. Neither am I bringing attention to worthy causes, or highlighting injustice with my photographs. I do it for the same reason most people do most things, I do it for me. I want to take the sort of photographs that I’d like to see. I want to look at my photographs and say “that’s cool, I want to hang that on my wall.”

The limitations imposed by LEGO minifigures are a big part of the fun of photography for me. Bernard Suits famously defined a game as “the voluntary attempt to overcome unnecessary obstacles”. That perfectly sums up my approach to LEGO photography. I rarely use anything but standard LEGO smiling faces, or the expressionless helmets of Stormtroopers or Darth Vader. Trying to create an emotive photograph with a barely-posable, inert chunk of plastic is a challenge that I never seem to tire of trying to beat.

I take pleasure in the whole process. Combining ideas together within my own set of rules for what makes a good photograph. Finding angles and interesting lines in the viewfinder. Moving the composition around to balance the scene. Changing the lighting mood as I shoot. Playing with hues and saturation curves to add some life to the clinically clean digital capture. It’s all good.

Sometimes it works, and sometimes everything goes in the trash can. As I make more photographs I’m getting better at knowing when an idea doesn’t translate into a good photograph. Over the years I’ve tried to weed out poor qualities and work out what the essence of a good photograph is to me.

I read an excellent quote from Magnum photographer Constantine Manos today that summed up something I have never been able to eloquently put into words – “Try not to take pictures which simply show what something looks like.”. That’s why I take the photographs I do. To try and take LEGO photography above mere “photos of things” and make a story, evoke an emotion, or at least raise a smile.

Mike Stimpson

Autumn by Mike Stimpson

A guest post for stuckinplastic com by Mike Stimpson – mikestimpson.com
You can find Mike also on the following great social media platforms:
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BrickSailboat

As we await +Me2 and his/our grand adventure to begin I thought I would introduce you to another great storyteller: Bricksailboat.

BrickSailboat has always been one of my favorite feeds on Instagram. What is there not to like about free wheeling ninjas, a crew of regular mini figs and classic pirates all struggling for control of a full size sailboat?

The mastermind of this silly and beautifully photographed feed is Paul S. Mr S loves a good story. The characters who populate his feed are often engaged in an elaborate story lines involving adventure, epic quests and mysterious strangers. Even when the ninjas are simply training on the boat I have the feeling they are bidding their time until the next adventure begins.

Now that Mr S. is on his own epic cross country trek, relocating to another coast line, the entire crew of the sailboat has gone on equally large quests. As we are treated to photos of ninjas’ trekking across sand dunes I realize that Mr S planned his entire road trip around finding these stunning locations just to feed the story line. That is some dedication!

If you find yourself treading water with your photography, creating a specific story line is a great way to move forward. If you are handy with words write an original adventure, if not try recreating a favorite literary passage. You might just find yourself creating some beautiful photographs along the way.

Who are your favorite storytellers on Instagram?
Have you tried your hand at creating a unified story and telling it using Lego?