When I first saw the posts about this year’s Toy Photo Safari popping up in my Instagram feed, I knew I had to make an effort to attend. I wanted to attend the previous meet up in Las Vegas, but the resources and timing weren’t quite there.
My first thought when I read the nostalgia challenge was that this one is written for me.
“As an assignment, create a photographic work that consciously wrestles with the concept of ‘nostalgia’ and photography’s unique relationship to it.”
My second thought was, I don’t even have to do this one because I’ve already done it. I do it all the time; I’m constantly wrestling with the concept of nostalgia. So many of my pictures with the troopers are connected to the theme of nostalgia. Or they are about being a parent exploring the world through the eyes of a child. Or they are about being a child longing for a parents attention or love. Suddenly I started to overthink myself: is this really the concept I wrestle with? I’m not sure… Continue reading Nostalgic – the idea of what could have been
Mais descobre huma hora de jogo, que hum anno de conversação.
An hour of play discovers more than a year of conversation.
— Portuguese Proverb
As I returned to the “real world” the Tuesday following the SiP Seattle Toy Photographers Meet-up, I inevitably had colleagues and friends ask about where and how I’d spent my long weekend away. Upon telling most of these colleagues and friends about all I had been up to those four days, their first question was inevitably, “A What Photographers Meet-up?” How do you even begin to explain the incredible experience of a toy photographers meet-up to someone whose mind has never so much as crossed paths with the idea that there are artists, like myself and my fellow toy photographer attendees, who (privately, for the most part) take beautiful and sometimes painstakingly-created photographs of their toys?! Continue reading What you can discover in an hour (or four days) of play
The weekend of the recent Seattle Toy Safari presented several opportunities for us toy photographers: The chance to meet friends we only really knew by their Instagram handles, to make new friends (and, in turn, swap Instagram usernames), to borrow toys for unexpected and unplanned shots, and more. For me, the meetup also came with a challenge: I had to actually shoot outdoors!
I consider myself primarily an indoor toy photographer. A viewer of my photos will find more shots of superheroes playing with their cats than they would Chima in the wild. Part of that has to do with the fact that Mike, Vesa, and Chris McVeigh were my biggest inspirations for getting into Lego photography, and as you know, they primarily shoot in-studio. While I’m not quite as control-oriented as they are, I do find that my particular sensibilities and ideas as a photographer gravitate toward indoor scenes.
At first I was anxious when looking at the schedule for the Toy Safari, which took us into the heart of Seattle, and to various parks, forts, and nearby waterfalls. Beyond that surface-level nervousness, however, was the excitement to try new things, and venture outside of my own photographic comfort zone.
“If we’re growing, we’re always going to be out of our comfort zone.” – John Maxwell.
As Shelly recently mentioned, approaching photography with “an openness to the possibilities” can lead to some fantastic surprises. Over the weekend, I discovered something about myself I didn’t know: I actually enjoy shooting outside!
Granted, it took me a while to get the hang of things. I’m used to setting up my scenes in a lightbox or near a window, placing my camera on a tripod, and slowing my shutter speed to let in more light. Upon taking my first outdoor photos, I had to immediately mess with the camera settings – taking them away from the numbers I’d found so familiar and “safe” – and do some good ol’ fashioned trial-and-error.
Apart from the technical changes, I also had to examine my own creative process. How could I take my actual ideas and place them in the real world, away from the small living rooms or alien landscapes I’d created on my kitchen table?
This turned out to be a pretty satisfying creative problem to have, as it required me to examine my batch of minifigures differently. Rather than literally creating the scene around the figure, I had to do the opposite, and find a way for the figure to inhabit the natural surroundings I found myself in.
From there, new ideas had to be forged. What was the minifigure doing? What story was I trying to tell? I didn’t want to simply shoot the figure in the grass or by the ocean – I needed an angle, some kind of hook.
To my surprise, it was extremely fun to dig through my toy box, mix and match accessories, and see what kind of scenarios or stories I could create using a natural environment. I can’t exactly create an ocean at home (not without my wife or landlord getting upset, anyway), so it was fun to gaze upon my minifigs and place them in situations I’d never be able to conjure up while inside the comfort of my own home.
I’m very happy with the results, and I learned quite a few things over the weekend. Apart from some new technical tricks, I learned more about myself, the nature of my own creative process, and how fun it can be to bring my ideas into a new situation or location. I doubt I’ll soon get used to seeing these outdoor photos on my camera roll, but I’m sure glad they’re there, and I cannot wait to add more of them!
~ James Garcia
Recently, Shelly wrote a post about Fair Use for Toy Photographers that got me thinking about my own brushes with selling my artwork. I’ve been interested in making money since I started making and sharing my art. Like all toy photographers, except maybe custom artists like @krash_override, I’m bound by the toys I purchase, so to profit from depicting a recognizable brand seems to be a legal gray area. Continue reading Getting that prehistoric paycheck
We just have to accept that Kristina is not a group person
I have spent five amazing days in Seattle with the Toy-Safari-group. This is my second safari, since I attended my first in Waxholm last summer and I meet Shelly and the European StuckinPlastic people for the first time. Without the great experience in Waxholm, I would never have ended up in Seattle for this safari. Why? Because just as the quote says in the beginning of this blog post, I’m not a group person, or maybe I’m just a group person for a toy-safari. Continue reading A toy safari is a chance to share a passion
Every picture yada yada yada
Every picture tells a story.
A picture is worth a thousand words.
Yep, we’ve all heard these before.
I guess I’ve been afforded the luxury of posting images on Instagram with accompanying words. Heck, the words were what dictated my shots when I first started posted. Silly little puns. Silly little puns, with a silly little photo to accompany them. Continue reading Exhibition ammunition
Have you ever been to a toy safari? I’ve been fortunate to be a part of quite a few. From two people to twenty people I find them to be quite an adventure. There’s nothing like stalking people on Instagram and then finally meeting them on a toy safari. I don’t know what it is about the combination of toys and photography that leaves so much to discuss and laugh about but that’s what happens.
Plus you get to play with other people’s toys!
With less than a week to go before the Stuck-In-Plastic Meet-up I can officially say that I have begun my descent into madness. The preparation, planning, expense and anticipation leading up to an event of this caliber are enough to drive a man straight into the plush, padded rooms of “Arkham Asylum”. Add on the extra stressors of needing to decide which action figures to take, cleaning camera gear and remembering to pack a toothbrush alongside completing an inconceivable amount of custom action figures and I have effectively topped off my “stress Sunday” with a ripe-red cherry. So why do we do it? Why do we add this pressure onto an already weary body while knowingly turning our PTO Balance into a shadow of its former self?
The answer, to me, is simple. Continue reading The Storm Before the Calm
After a 6 hour flight and being in traffic for an hour and half, I get home to a message from Shelly asking me if I wanted to write an entry for the Stuck In Plastic blog about May’s Photo Safari. I don’t know about you, but for me this is a big deal and I’m really excited to be able to share my story with you! Continue reading TravelBricks is coming to Seattle!