A Brief Pause

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind and I thought it would be nice to take a brief pause to  catch our collective breath and highlight a few posts from the past two weeks.

Early in June, it became clear to me that as my blogging partners took some much deserved time off it would be a challenge to fill the blog on a daily basis. Not only was Avanaut off on vacation but Me2 was wrapping up loose ends at BigInc. getting ready for his annual vacation / LEGO adventure. The up shot of all this travel would be four weeks of limited help from my blogging mates.

We have made it half way through our short handed staffing and I am amazed at how we have come together as a community!

It was wonderful to see some new additions to our series: “Why?” (as in, why do you take toy photographs). They ran the gamut from how art can save your life to a wonderful reminder from Brett Wilson that when it is all said and done, toy photography is about community and the friends we make.

I really felt Julochka’s post about traveling with her friend Fuzz put to shame all the earlier posturing about who took the earliest toy photographs. I am pretty sure 20 years ago most of us where not traveling around the world with our own beloved bear and photographing him at amazing scenic spots. Way to go Julie!

I loved BrickSailboat’s piece on what makes up his personal style. It is a great reminder that even if you are going to Steal Like an Artist, you still have to develop your own style.

In addition to these fresh voices on the blog, Balakov and Avanaut have been willing to share even more of their expertise and insight than usual. Both have revealed their five favorite mini figures; Balakov showed us that playing with your food can lead to some incredible photography; and Avanaut broke away from Hoth long enough to snap a few quick underwater toy shots. (I will admit its pretty cool to share a blog with these two amazingly talented photographers.)

Lastly I want to thank everyone who has taken the time to comment on any of these posts. I know that some times technology can make that a difficult process, but your comments inspire us to keep going and often generate interesting blog ideas. Thank you dear readers for being an integral part of this StuckinPlastic community.

If you have not already done so, I hope you will take the time to read a few of the posts I have mentioned, as well as the many I didn’t. We have more amazing posts in the works and we look forward to sharing them with you!

~ xxSJC

The “Why?” Statement – guidelines

Recently I have been reaching out to photographers I admire and asking them to write for our “Why?” series. The response has been overwhelmingly positive, but once these talented photographers start trying to express the obvious in words, they tend to get bogged down.

Today I thought I would try to explain why this statement is important and try to help bring some clarification to the process. Continue reading The “Why?” Statement – guidelines

Pieces of the Puzzle

I have been taking a trip down memory lane on twitter and posting blog entries from a year ago. I ran across one from last March where we asked if anyone wanted to join us and the silence was defining. But that didn’t stop Me2 and myself.

We have grown our community one blog post and one amazing photographer at a time.

Continue reading Pieces of the Puzzle

Promotion: the Artists Achilles Heel

I think a lot of artists are under the assumption that creating a body of work for a gallery show is the hardest part of any exhibition . I would like to propose that creating the work is actually the easiest part;  while promoting it is the most difficult part.

Promoting ones work is never easy for an artist; it feels weird to blow your own horn over and over again to get noticed. But in this new reality of everyone being an artist and every artist being a small business person, a part of the emerging creative class, that is exactly what you have to do. Blow your own horn; time and time again.

The idea for this show was a pipe dream of Me2 and myself over a year ago. It wasn’t until I pitched the concept to Bryan Ohno last summer did we have any chance of it becoming a reality. Since that fateful pitch,  I have been laying the ground work for promotion. I have been trying to be an active member of the gallery, creating connections with like minded friends, letting existing friends know what I would need if it all came together and  then not being shy about asking for it, giving away my work to promote interest and of course building up my social media profile across four separate platforms.

And this from the person (me) who quit all social media except Instagram over a year ago because it was ruining my life. Now I find myself so deep down the social media rabbit hole I wonder if I will ever escape again.

Yet I have been overjoyed by the response from friends both online across all media and in real life. Friends are putting up posters around town and on the Eastside (read Microsoft campus), other friends are using their own business and personal networks to get the word out, many friends are sharing the event via Facebook, I have received lots of personal responses to e-mails expressing congratulations, regrets and of course a few “Yeah! We wouldn’t miss it!!”

I am definitely reaping the rewards of having spent a good chunk of my life’s energy on the internet and in real life creating connections and I feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

So if you are one of those mentioned above, thank you!
Thank You !!! Yeah right, Thank You, You Rock !

Yet I feel it won’t be enough and I am asking for your help. We have joined our respective boats together here on StuckinPlastic and for this I am grateful. Now we need to make some waves with this amazing toy, plastic, LEGO, friendship boat we have created together.

I want you to share the information about this show with your friends, circles, groups and connections. We are a global community and our reach is incredible. It will be fun to see exactly how far we can spread the word and make our collective plastic, fun loving voices heard.

Why ?

Because we know you care, you care for the toys, for toy photography, for the creative toy revolution we all stand for.

This show is as much about YOU as it is about us; you who have supported us , you who want to join us next time, you who want to stand proud when you are with family and friends taking a toy photograph.

Help spread the word. The more waves we make online will only lead to more interest, (hopefully) national press, international awareness and put toy photography right where it belongs…in the spotlight. Because the world needs a little more joy and a few more smiles.

~ xxSJC

So, how to help us get the word out ? Just download this image and share it on the social media platform of your choice and link it to us and tag it with #ohnolego here on the web, on FB, G+, Reddit, Tumblr, … 

If you know of anyone who we should contact, please let us know in the comments. No lead will be overlooked and TLC will be included.

Rest assured we will repay all your efforts and energy by paying it forward! We believe in good karma. 😀

inlegoweconnect

#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.

IMG_2403
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.

IMG_2406
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.

IMG_2409
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.

IMG_7416
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.

IMG_7430-1
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 Photo Challenge Books Begin to Arrive!

image
Photo courtesy of @Herrsm

The books created for the Best of 2014 Photo Challenge are starting to arrive. I have seen several posts on IG featuring books by both Me2 and myself so I know they are arriving at their destinations.  I have received a handful myself and I can understand the enthusiasm that the recipients feel. Opening each book is a true gift; a gift of the heart.

These little books are packed with memories, back stories, unique presentations and of course lots of outstanding photographs. Each book reflects the individual creator, but they also represent everything good about our toy photography community. In short they are amazing!

The stories I have read within their pages reflect the camaraderie, the joy, the relationships and the common experiences that bind us together. I am pretty sure that Me2 and I are the true winners in this endeavor because we will receive eight to nine books each. A veritable treasure trove of photography goodness.

So to everyone who took the plunge and created a book I thank you for making this a truly special holiday.

~ xxsjc

There where seven participants in the book exchange; Sweden (2), Germany (1), Turkey (1),  Columbia (1), United States (3), Belgium (1)

Should we do this again? If so, how often?  

If we do this again, would you like the opportunity to exchange with everyone who participates? 

image
Photo courtesy of @sandi_gee

Thank you Me2

I want to take a moment to thank Me2 for all his (on going) hard work behind the scenes for StuckinPlastic.com. He was instrumental in setting up our original blog on Blogger and making it look pretty. Now he has moved us lock, stock and barrel  to Word Press with minimal problems. Way to go!

Yes, their has been a few kinks, but with your help and feedback we are working them out. This community is not only a platform for conversation, growth and support, it’s a group effort. We are all StuckinPlastic together.

I am most excited that this new site will allow us to interact more effectively as a group! We have incorporated the various rooms created on G+ here at our new home so we have one place to post, interact and help each other on our individual journeys.

Here is a brief explanation of the different forums:

  • The Foyer: This is a place to post topics of general interest that you find interesting or important. This can run the gamut of “simple chit chat and bubble talk” to heavy hitting issues like copyright and trademark issues. You decide the topics.
  • The White Room: This is where we encourage you to post your photos. Whether you are looking for a friendly critique or a round of applause, this is the place. In time you will be sharing with both collectors and artists alike.
  • The Green Room: This is where we would like you to introduce yourself. Please post a representative image of your work or your signature figure and tell us a little about yourself. As Me2 says: “anything goes as an icebreaker”.
  • The Dark Room: This is where we can talk shop: camera gear, lighting techniques, editing software, organization techniques are just a few ideas. Let’s geek out together!

When Me2 asked me to join him on this adventure at the end of 2013, I had no idea where it would lead but I was more than open to the possibilities. I feel this past year we have made good progress, we added our friend Avanaut and built the foundations of a wonderful community. But I want to do more! I want to take us all to the next level and I feel Me2 has given us the tools to do that.

Thank you my friend!

~ xxsjc

IMG_1336

Have You Started?

Have you started editing your photos for the Best of 2014 Photo Challenge?

I sat down last night and narrowed my choice down to 20 images, seven of which are solid choices.  Not quite the 12 that Ansel talked about, but I will take it. As I begin to choose the last five images that will round out my top 12, I keep thinking about this quote:

“It can be a trap of the photographer to think that his or her best pictures were the ones that were hardest to get. – Timothy Allen

This is definitely an editing trap I have fallen into before. It is hard to eliminate images from a group that you worked hard to get. It is so easy to get wrapped up in an image emotionally and not see clearly how it can strengthen or weaken the whole. For me, I am often entranced by a certain aspect of an image, a compelling detail, that it is hard to see it within the context of the group.

But then this is why editing is hard.

The other by product of this exercise is that I am seeing relationships I was not aware of. So many of my favorite images are taken near or in water it is almost comical. If you are familiar with my past work this makes a certain amount of sense. I also noticed my favorite images tend to be rather dark, not the usual playful imagery that you expect from Lego photography. I will have to consider lightening the mood with my final choices.

Once I lay out my book with its final 12 images I will be adding text to each image. I want you to know why I chose each image and what makes it special to me. I hope you will consider adding similar explanations in your book.

I look forward to seeing what you choose and why.

~ xxsjc

Have you signed up to partake in the great Best of 2014 Photo Book Swap?
Does your book have a theme beyond “Best of…”?
Please let us know if you have any questions, we are here to help. 


I adore this image which automatically makes it completely suspect. 

2014 Photo Challenge (details)

I am very pleased with the response to my photo challenge. Your enthusiasm is infectious!

Here are a few more details.

If you have never made a photo book before you are in for a treat. It is a very satisfying way to display your photos and of course they make great gifts. There has been some concern that this activity would be cost prohibitive, so I did some research and found some options of publishers that offer modest pricing.

Artifact Uprising offers a 6 x 8 soft cover book for $22.99.
Shutterfly offers a 7 x 9 softcover book for $15.99.
Mosaic offers a 7 x 7 hard cover book for $20.00
Apple offers a 8 x 6 soft cover book for $11.00
Lulu offers a 9 x 7 soft cover book for $12.99

These sites all have pre packed designs that you can drop your images into. This is not a design challenge. Simply pick a simple layout and upload your photos to it. It couldn’t be any simpler. If you plan to print multiple copies of any book I recommend printing one copy to proof color and density. Just because your photo looks great on the screen, doesn’t mean it will look good on paper.

If you want to get super fancy I would suggest checking out Blurb Photo Books. You can go crazy and get a beautiful hard cover book for around $36.00. (All the pricing is approximate and quoted for a book of 20 pages or less. All pricing is in US currency.)

Each of these options have there pluses and minuses. You will have to decide if you want to add text or let the photos speak for themselves. Mosaic is a photo only layout. I have found that text is really helpful down the road to remember the time and place; those details that become fuzzy with time.

If you are ready to commit to exchanging a photo book with me please click here. Please send me an e-mail and let me know your intentions by December 1st. Ideally we would all have our books printed and mailed by December 31st.

In other news I wanted to share with you my first large scale print that I received from the printer. I am no stranger to printing my photographs large, but this is the first Lego mini figure photo and I couldn’t be more pleased with the results.

Have a great weekend friends and I hope to hear from you!

~ xxsjc

If you want to research a full range of custom book publishers check out this article
If I haven’t answered your specific question, please leave a comment and I will get back to you.
This challenge is open to all photographers who are friends of this blog, not just toy photographers. 
What is the biggest art photo you have ever printed? 

Have a great weekend and we should be hearing from +Me2 and Avanaut before long.


Best of 2014 Photo Challenge

It is that time of year when I turn my thoughts to assembling a photo album of pictures I have taken of my children during the past 12 months. This is a tradition I started nine years ago with the birth of my second child. Each book is an epic adventure in its own right, but all the books together is mind blowing. For my 17 year old daughter, it is her most cherished Christmas gift.

After a Twitter conversation with Arby of @Worldofminifigs regarding her annual calendar, I was wondering if this might not be a good exercise for my Lego photography as well. Why not start with 2014 and create a small book of my favorite 12 images that I can then share with my family and friends? You know, the special ones that have been supportive throughout the year.

But I want to add a twist to this project; I want you to do it too.

…and then I want us to swap them.

I want to share my photos with you and I want you to share yours with me. Why?

  • We can feed the Marketing Beast together.
  • It is good practice to edit your images.
  • These images could be the seeds of a future photography show.
  • It is a great way to look back and appreciate your year in photography.
  • We can move one step closer to making our internet friends into real life friends.
  • Create an inexpensive holiday gift for friends and family alike.
  • A tangible way to show people what your passion is.

Not to mention that if we keep doing this every year, making a book of our12 favorite / best images, we will have a great archive and a tangible view of our progress. There is no substitute to seeing your images printed in a book or framed on a wall to give a real sense of accomplishment.

If you accept my challenge, please leave your intentions in the comments below. I will keep you up to date on my progress. Ideally, I will have all books printed and mailed before December 15th.

I hope you will accept my challenge and share your photography with me because I want to share my photography with you.

~ xxsjc

I wonder if I can persuade +Me2 and Avanaut to join in?
This challenge is open to anyone who has been a friend of this blog, not just toy photographers. 

Will this image make the cut?