Frank

I know I have mentioned this several times, but inspiration sometimes comes from the weirdest places. Recently I watched the movie “Frank” which tells the story of one aspiring band who is fronted by a man who never removes his papier-mâché head. Just the place to find treasures like:

[clickToTweet tweet=”When you think you’ve gone far enough, go farther.” quote=”When you think you’ve gone far enough, go farther.”]

Continue reading Frank

Epic Toy Photography Safari – Stockholm Edition

When Dinoczars and I organized January’s Epic Toy Photo Safari in Las Vegas we set in motion something bigger than just your regular run of the mill photo walk. We gathered  together an amazing selection of likeminded plastic photographers from across western North America for an incredible weekend. Little did we know where it would lead when we repeated this grand experiment in March while Vesa and Me2 where visiting me in Seattle. Now it seems that the old continent has been left out in the cold and wants to get in on all this awesome toy photography goodness.

I know my good old counterpart (Me2) has been talking to some of you in Europe about creating a photo walk on the old continent, and so I have decided to turn ideas and vague plans into a reality. I will be journeying to the old continent and we will be having our own  Epic Toy Photography Safari on the other side of the pond, in Stockholm, Sweden on August 29th.

All the details are still unclear and Me2 and Crew are working on these exact  details (it looks awesome, we just need to get our proverbial ducks in order) but for now, we can already tell you this: reserve the date and be ready to meet me and the rest of the creative collective in Stockholm on Saturday August 29th.

This event will be  open to any toy photographer who is interested in shooting with like minded people for a day. If past photo safaris are any indication we will share toys, trade photography tips and tricks, create group shots and generally geek out as only a group of toy photographers can. In short, it will be EPIC!

I hear rumors that Balakov and Me2 will be teaming up to do an advanced class with strobes. Seriously, could this get any cooler?

So save the date, August 29th, and join Me2, Avanaut, Balakov myself and few other intrepid toy photographers for this special weekend. If you have any interest in attending please let us know in the comments so we can plan accommodations.

We will post periodic updates to let you know how our plans are developing. In the mean time, I hope you will check your calendar and begin making plans to join us in Stockholm on August 29th.

~ xxSJC

This event is family friendly. Me2, Avanaut and myself will all have family in attendance.

If you have any questions please leave them in the comments or contact me directly. 

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Is this the way to the “Old Country”?

An Oasis in the Desert

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Eight months ago, Shelly (@xxsjc) Paul (@bricksailboat) Nick (@wiiman) and I sat at a bar in Seattle, enjoying a cold beer on a warm afternoon, having just finished a group photography outing. We marveled at the engaging experience our photo safaris tended to be and decided to invite others to come meet us… in Las Vegas.

Last weekend, I found myself in the beautiful Nevada desert taking photos of toys with a dozen other people. They had traveled from miles away to hang out (and in my case bunk) with folks they had never met. Each had their own artistic abilities, interests and styles, but the rocky landscapes seemed to bring out everyone’s best. Figures were borrowed and techniques were discussed, all with a peppering of laughter and playful competition. We got to know each other throughout the weekend, but nothing was more impressive to me than the positive attitudes and good-natured sensibilities that I encountered from this amazing group of artists.

While waiting to board my flight home I thought about why I felt so good. Why did I have such a strong sense of pride about a silly little meet-up? Two things come to mind. First, because we actually did it. People talk all the time about things they ‘want to do’ but we just did it. That is tragically rare and utterly awesome. Secondly, because I have been fortunate to photograph toys with my friends and it was wonderful to help others see how great that can be. Photography tends to be an isolating experience in many ways, but if you can go shooting with another person it becomes altogether different, if not improved.

We’ve begun talking about the next #toyphotosafari and I look forward to seeing my friends again, but nothing has me more excited than the thought of adding to our numbers. Finding others who love to take pictures of toys, bringing them together and share the fun of group photo sessions; that’s the new challenge and reward ahead.
That’s why I feel so good.
Jaiken – @dinoczars

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#vegastoyphotosafari

If you are a regular reader of this blog then you have heard me mention the Las Vegas toy photography meet up for several months. I even wrote a series of posts about some of the people who I was excited to meet. This past weekend all that planning and anticipation paid off in four fun filled days in Las Vegas, Nevada, when 12 toy photographers met up to take photos, eat, share and even toy shop together for the amazing #vegastoyphotosafari.

Day one started out slowly as people trickled into town. While a few early birds managed to sneak off for some location scouting and toy photography in the desert the rest of us checked in to the Flamingo Hotel and got settled.  Later that evening we all met up for dinner at In ‘n Out burgers which turned out to be the perfect place for some casual conversation and of course a few toy photos.

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Group photo courtesy of Wikitoybox

No, Las Vegas convention would be complete without lanyards and our good friend Cindy (@coney_dogg) surprised us all with custom lanyards so we would fit right in with all the other visiting conventioneers.

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Photo courtesy of Brickandmordor

On day two we headed out to the desert together to photograph at Red Rocks Canyon National Conservation Area. It was a beautiful sunny day and the red rocks and desert scenery where a wonderful back drop for our toys. {A big thank you to Dennis (@krash_overide), Josh (@papajov) and Dean (@dean80s)} for providing transportation!) The time flew by as we moved to different locations in the park taking advantage of the scenery and changing light.

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Image courtesy of Bricksailboat

After dinner we met up in one of the hotel rooms for a more intimate evening of sharing toys, prints and laughter. Josh surprised us that evening with a toy raffle. Names were pulled from a “hat” and toys were chosen by the winners. It was interesting to see what toys people picked, there were even a few unexpected choices made. We also enacted our photo print exchange. Everyone was instructed to bring 20 copies of one image and we would exchange prints. I think we all agreed this was a great way to remember everyone and the work that they do.

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Image courtesy of xxSJC

On day three our local contact Sean (@amptoys_2), took us to an abandoned lot in downtown Vegas were several houses where covered in graffiti.  This was an interesting location choice because it encouraged most of us to stretch beyond our comfort zones. Watching each photographer approach this unique environment was interesting and several of us commented how much of a challenge it was.

After that we hit the toy stores, three of them. It was fun to watch the veteran toy collectors approach the toys and make their purchases. Those of us new to toy collecting or strictly Lego, learned a lot about collecting and the sheer variety of toys on the market. Between the raffle and the shopping I think everyone went home with more toys than they arrived with.

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Josh and Cindy go shopping! Image courtesy of brickandmordor 

By day four we had lost a few of our attendees due to differing travel schedules, so the last of the die hards decided to go back out to the dessert for one last photo adventure. Since this was our third day of shooting together there was no awkwardness. Everyone settled into the environment with their toys and got to work. Occasionally we would compare notes, show a recent photo we where proud of or join our toys up in some group photos. It was a very productive and enjoyable morning.

Now it was time for our final goodbyes. Already there had been lots of hugs and big smiles as we looked back on our action packed weekend. Luckily this bittersweet parting was made palatable as plans were already being made for future get togethers.

This event was incredibly successfull for all involved! We all left Las Vegas richer in friends and photographs; the two things that make the Instagram toy community so special.

~ xxSJC

Below is an Instagram feed of the photos we took over these four days. Since most of us took hundreds of photos this tag will continue to grow over the next few weeks and months as we post our edited photos. I hope you will continue to check back and see all the photos as the #vegastoyphotosafari tag grows. 

[instagram-feed type=hashtag hashtag=”#vegastoyphotosafari” imageres=full]

The Runaway Bunny

I try to not talk about projects I am working on until they are completed. There is this weird phenomena that takes place if you talk about a project too much…it never happens. At least that is my personal experience. This is why I am just now telling you about my all consuming fall 2014 project: recreating Margaret Wise Brown’s classic children’s book The Runaway Bunny using Lego photos that I took.

You may have noticed an increase in Lego bunny rabbit shots on both this blog and on my Instagram feed last fall and now you know why.

I was approached last spring to do a Lego photography book based on Herman Melville’s Moby Dick but that project fell through. Even though I was disappointed by this, it did inspire me to look for another similar project. I dismissed Moby Dick and several other books, both short and long, for a variety of reasons and eventually settled on The Runaway Bunny.

I set myself a strict deadline of December 1st for completion so I would have time to get it printed and wrapped up for my children by Christmas Eve. (I have found looming deadlines to be a good defense against the inevitable procrastination.)

I had a great time on this project and discovered some shots, like this one, were fun and easy to get.

The final photo from The Runaway Bunny where mother bunny offers her wayward offspring a carrot when he finally returns home.
“Have a carrot.”

While others, like this one, I chased for several months.

Mother bunny from The Runaway Bunny is fishing for her wayward son who has decided to be a fish instead of a bunny.
“I will become a fisherman and I will fish for you.”

If you were a recipient of my Best of 2014 Legography book you know that two of the images created for this project were in my top 12 for the year. I couldn’t have been more pleased with how my first completed book project turned out.

Here is my initial take away on the project:

  • Goals are good.
  • Complicated shots need to be pre-arranged before you hit the great outdoors.
  • Working within a specific frame work is creativly freeing.
  • Hand made books make awesome gifts.
  • The Runaway Bunny is not as well known as Goodnight Moon even though they are by the same author / illustrator team and have much in common.

Now that I am free from the constraints of this book project, my typical free form style of shooting seems rather boring and meaningless. I guess it is time to look around for another book project!

~ xxsjc

Do you have any suggestions for a book you would like to see recreated with Lego photography? 

Grateful to Big Inc.

I won’t deny it has been a heady week and its time to come crashing back down to earth. But before I get mired down in the day to day of my life I want to take a moment to tell you all how grateful I am for the last week.

The week started with one of those days of a life time on my family road trip, many birthday wishes from my IG family and ended with another fun BrickCon with my photo buddies…it’s been an amazing week by any measure.

Nestled in this already awesome week was lunch with Julie Broburg a Lego representative from the Mothership. Julie’s job (as I understand it) is to act as a liaison to the AFOL community in all it’s forms, including us legographers. I find it amazing that there is a corporation out there that is interested in what their fans are doing and are willing to support, nurture and learn from that community. I know I can be very wary of Big Inc., but it is hard to disparage a company that values it’s fans as much as Lego does.

So thank you Julie for all you do for all the AFOL’s out there. If you get a chance to meet Julie in her travels make sure you go up and say: “Hi” and be sure to introduce yourself as a legographer.

Now I have one more thing to be grateful for: I am grateful to be photographing a great product and being a part of the Lego family in my own small way.

~ xxsjc

Fairy Godmother Julie

ps. I am pretty sure +Me2 had other ideas planned for todays post, but since he got caught up at his own Big Inc, you got me instead. We will pick up with our “Why” series later this week. Cheers!

What a Difference a Year Makes

Recently my life speeded up and I feel like I am moving at light speed. There is so much to do and so little time!

No matter how fast life is moving it is always good to take stock of where you are and how far you have come. I know I have talked about my first lego photo. I’m not shy about how bad it was. But somewhere in the last 2 1/2 years and thousands of photos, I improved. I don’t know where or how, but it happened.

Last spring I was asked by friends to do a series of photos that would substitute for their engagement photos. One thing led to another and these photographs ended up in The Huffington Post. I had my 15 minutes of fame and it was fun.

I promised my friends that I would take one of the images and create a framed piece as they’re wedding gift. Unfortunately the image they chose I had grown dissatisfied with and decided to re shoot it. This ended up being a great way to bench mark how much I have grown and learned in the past year.

Personally I was surprised by how different the photo came out. I do feel it represents my current style, which make me wonder what it will look like if I retake it a year from now?

Next time you have a moment, stop and compare the photos you have taken recently with the photos you took a year ago. And while you are at it, give yourself a pat on the back because I’m sure you have made some significant improvements along the way.

~ xxsjc

Do you ever look back at your photos and notice how much you have learned? 
Do you have a photo you can re-shoot for a side by side comparison?
If so, would you share it with us?

One World

I admire +Me2 and his grand adventure of friends. To bring together people from several continents and many countries who’s only link to each other is a mutual love of Lego (and a sense of the absurd) is a beautiful thing. If only the rest of the world would get on board and join the fun.

I love the Instagram toy community that I am an active member of. It has shown me in so many ways that we are one world. We have so much in common beyond just having mother’s and father’s. Maybe we can counteract the fear and suspicion that seems to be taking over our planet by making friends across the globe. Each connection makes us stronger and less fearful of our differences.

In lieu of making friends and connections I guess we can always rely on a good alien invasion to bring us together.

~ xxsjc

Did you have a chance to catch up on the blog and see all the great group shots?
What super hero do you want to save us when the aliens come?

Toy Photo Safari

I am looking forward to my upcoming journey with +Me2 and our other Stuckinplastic friends. I hear we leave on Saturday for 16 days of travel through some amazing countryside. I am not sure what to expect but I am sure some beautiful photographs will be forthcoming.

A little closer to home my friend Jon (who you may know by the IG handle of Dinoczars) and I are planning to host a toy photographers meet up in Las Vegas Nevada the weekend of January 16-19, 2015. This event will include an initial meet and greet, two photo outings, time to swap tips and a photo exchange. We have a few more surprises in store depending on the response we get.

If you would like more information about the event just click here.

We already have a few brave souls signed up for this epic journey and I am very much looking forward to meeting them in person:  Krash Override, Captain Kaos, Papajov, Wikitoybox and of course reconnecting with Bricksailboat. If you have any desire to join us and make this far flung world of Instagram a little smaller and more personable let me know in the comments, G+ or on Instagram.

Because in this crazy world that we live in, we need to take every opportunity to make connections and enjoy the time we are given. Which of course means playing more with our toys.

~ peace, xxsjc

photo by Jon Aiken (Dinoczars) 

My Unikitty Alter Ego.

Today I felt like Angry Unikitty for much of the day. Whenever I feel like this I’m tempted to post cutting remarks on various social media platforms but then I remember the immortal words of Mark Twain…

“It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.”

Words to live by.
~ xxsjc
Have you ever posted something you regretted to a social media site?
Have you ever read something posted by someone else that really pissed you off? 
Do you try to be a positive influence on social media sites or just speak your mind?