Dave: An Origin Story

It seems like every once and awhile someone creates a post about how they got into toy photography, and what they get out of it.  I figure its time that I go ahead and take a swing at that particular pitch and answer the how and why of my own particular journey into the realm of toy photography.

Ready?  Here we go…

The Shocking Truth Revealed!

I got into toy photography because I didn’t want to put on pants.

I’m not kidding.

Come along on a journey with me and I’ll tell you the tale.  It was a dark, cold, wintery evening back in December of 2012 (I’m assuming it was cold and wintry; I don’t actually remember the weather. It was definitely evening in December, so it seems plausible.  It makes for a better story so I’m going with it.)  

I had signed up for the Chrysta Rae Scavenger Hunt over on the Plus.  The hunt involves shooting an image for 10 separate words, one of which was “candy cane”.  If you recall the evening was (possibly) cold and wintry. The kids were in bed, so it may not surprise you that  I didn’t feel like going out of the house to find a shot.  So I decided to stage my own.  I looked around and discovered my old LEGO set from my long lost childhood. The kitchen contained a box of candy canes, and I scrounged an old Christmas tree skirt.  The solution was obvious (to me at least), and soon I had created this shot:

Continue reading Dave: An Origin Story

A Reflection

I shot my first toy photos 9 years ago.

I was 17, in Ms. Jen’s 11th grade English class, and chose to illustrate scenes of William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying from a list of project options.

I really knew nothing about photography, but was slowly discovering that I liked it.

I outlined a few key scenes from the book and set out to photograph them. To my knowledge, I had never knowingly seen a toy photograph, nor did I think of what I was doing in any sort of category. All I knew was that it seemed the best way to represent a burning barn, brothers, horse drawn carriage, fish mother and vultures was through toys and maquettes.

The resulting photos weren’t what I’d now call good, but at the time I was quite happy with what I’d managed to create with minimal supplies and a point and shoot camera.

So now, 9 years later, some 6 or so years since I’ve actually considered myself a toy photographer, I’ve recreated those images with better technical knowledge and artistic vision. Continue reading A Reflection

I’m a travel toy photographer!

The first photos

When Shelly asked me to write about my first toy photo, I had no idea what I could possibly tell about it. Last year, I posted online what I consider to be my first photo as a toy photographer. It was just a photo of a big pile of minifigs. I wanted to see how they look in front of my camera and it was never meant to be shared with anybody.

My first photo of minifigures, taken while sorting my old LEGO collection in June 2014. In the big pile of plastic, there are among others: a mini fig with the face of a witch (and teeth marks), a pirate with a life jacket, a shark, a tent fabric, a net and an Endor speeder bike.

The only story behind that photo is about how I got into toy photography. I decided to start learning about photography when I was in need of a new hobby and got my first DSLR in early 2014. At that time I didn’t know what kind of photographer I wanted to be or what kind of photos I wanted to take. But at some point I stumbled onto dozens of inspiring LEGO photographers. It was impossible to resist going into the attic and looking for my old LEGO collection. Photography was the perfect excuse to play again with toys, something I’ve secretly wished to do since I started to get “too old”.

Digging back in some family photo archives I found what might be my actual first photo of a toy. I took it in the 90s with a film camera, when I wasn’t yet “too old” to play with toys.

Within two months I tried taking photos with the specific idea of sharing them online. Among those early photo still dear to me is my first photo series. It mixes some of my first acquired modern minifigures with my favorite “classic” ones. I knew the technical quality wasn’t great and that I had to practice in order to progress. But there was also more…

While looking back in my archives, I found early photos taken for my first photo series. They are out of focus, underexposed and the light is terrible. But these sketches never meant to be shared online.

The journey

At that time, I was looking to develop my own style of photography. I wanted my photos to be recognizable without people having to look at the name next to it. The people that inspired me most all have their own distinct style and I wanted to be like them. After all it’s natural to want to be like your heroes isn’t it?

But did I achieve that goal? Or will I ever achieve it? I don’t know and I’ve stopped caring. I’ve discovered that this not the goal I should be aiming for. The real goal is to be aware of my vision and know how I want to express it through my photography.

Part of this evolution can be credited to discovering Stuck in Plastic at a time when my toy photography wasn’t making much progress. I’m grateful for this discovery for several reasons. One of them is that it allowed me to read Shelly’s blog posts and it made me think in a different way about photography. I couldn’t thank her and Kristina enough for their challenges from the Photographer’s Playbook. I forced myself to participate, no matter how hard it could be and how long it would take. Taking on these challenges made me think deeply about what I was doing and why.

The first photo featuring both Master Yoda and Admiral Ackbar, taken for the sum of the parts challenge. I knew this would be the beginning of something, but I would have never guessed they would be featured in almost 80 photos already posted online (and more to come).

And then I found the missing piece. I watched an interview on Youtube by Canadian photographer David DuChemin about the importance of vision. Although reading regular blog posts from different toy photographers should have rung that bell earlier (like when Shelly and Kristina were talking about red thread). By watching this specific interview, I realized what really matters:  to produce better pictures I needed to be aware of my artistic vision.

I still have difficulties putting words on my vision. But I know it has something to do with Adventure and Travel.

The vision

Looking back at those early photos, it seems like I have traveled a long way. Now the photos I take and share are there to express something inside me. I still take occasional photos just “for the fun”. In the end they’re not the important ones to me, no matter how much others like them.

My first big trip with toys in September/October 2014, in Seattle…

I wonder if my vision was already a noticeable part of my early photos? I think this might be the case with the first photos I took of toys while traveling abroad. Going back to those “oldies” made me realize that maybe I’m a travel toy photographer. No matter if my photos are taken while traveling or not.

… And Vancouver. Although this photo is still among my favorites from that early era, Stormtroopers are characters that disappeared from both my public feed and my travel bag. Mostly because they don’t match my vision and the type of characters I want to focus on.

I’m now getting ready for what’s going to my biggest trip in over a year… San Francisco here I come (too)!

Are you aware of your own artistic vision? Does it help you when you’re taking photos?

My First Toy Photo – Pulup

I stepped into toy photography a couple of years after I bought my first DSLR camera. Back in those days, I was walking around at least once a week, taking my own concept-photo trips in the city, though mostly taking shots of cats, graffiti and beer on the streets of Istanbul (no surprise here). After I bought my first iPhone, I became addicted to Hipstamatic and Instagram, and frankly I started to use my DSLR less often. After a while I started to buy Lego to add color to my photos, which became a big hobby of mine with almost thousand mini figures and more than three thousand Lego photos to date. Continue reading My First Toy Photo – Pulup

My First Toy Photo(s) – by Ann @Miss__Feklista

I’d like to start my new story with thanking dear Shelly for this great fest of unity and creativity that she brings to us.

The more I tell about my hobby the better I know what the Time Travel is. After showing my Five Favorite Figures to you I had the impression that this adventure still lived in Present… And when I tried to reflect on the Past I was totally excited to realize that all my little heroes had the real Ancestors.

“Turning back the clock”, I see another autumn – a sweet coincidence that can reward the most audacious time traveller. There is no doubt that I found my first toy photo. This 3 years-old shot was made when I was telling the story which happened 300 million years ago.

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In my opinion, even the atmosphere of this picture is a little “ancient”. It shows the Prince Adam who lived in the Era of wonderful dinosaurs and mysterious tribes. Being a little child, I was in love with this breath-catching legend with dark secrets and brave heroes – brilliant plot of a very old video game “Lost Eden”. The world of the Past was like an opened book that I studied to the last detail and explored it with my good friends.

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Prince Adam and his beautiful friend Dina. Customs and Dinosaurs are created by me.

Years later, I decided to recreate the great tale using my Lego hobby and bring it to the Present. Have a look at the white mirror on the shot below: it can become a window to some events or secret places. Like this magical object, the Toy Photography was my instrument of Showing and was based on my drawing and sculpture.

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The Old Monk keeps the Ancestors’ Memories

My hobby gave me the possibility to lead my family and friends through the mysterious caves, shining oceans and ancient continents. My Mother, the main Kindred Spirit in my life and enormously Creative Person, shares my interests and we invented all these fantastic constructions together!

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The Guard of the Prison

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Adam’s sister is a brave Warrior Queen

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With the Gold Sword you will open the secret door

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The guard of the Maze keeps working through the years…

I’m going to illustrate this awesome story from the beginning to the end. As you can see, it is symbolic in every sense. One day I will invite you to explore this ancient universe with me. But now its time to return to the Present!

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The way is open

Ann @Miss__Feklista

My first toy photo(s)

I’m not quite sure when I first started calling myself a toy photographer but it certainly wasn’t when I took my first toy photos on Christmas Eve, 2008.

I borrowed some of my little brother’s Stormtroopers and had them re-enact a ‘we three kings’ moment around my childhood baby Jesus.

Continue reading My first toy photo(s)

here’s where it all began

it was july 7, 2013. i was in a long line at the grocery store. it was a summer day and sunshine-starved danes (yes, we are often starved for sunshine in the middle of the summer in denmark) were piling their baskets with grillables and rosé and rushing towards the register, to get home before the sunshine left again. the line was long and there was no sign of them calling another cashier to open another register, so i was stuck. as i was waiting, i glanced to my left and there was a display of small, shiny, colorful bags of LEGO minifigures. prominently depicted on the package was a minifigure of a guy in a chicken suit. i had a brood of hens at home of which i was inordinately fond and i thought, “i’ve gotta have that chicken suit guy,” so i grabbed a couple (or three) bags and tossed them in my basket. Continue reading here’s where it all began

65 Million Years Ago …

In the beginning I had absolutely no idea what I was doing.

I had been working on a dinosaur-themed comic book and purchased a few toy dinosaurs to help with anatomical designs. The Allosaurus was first, but soon followed by a Triceratops and a Velociraptor. All made by the French brand, Papo.

They had almost no articulation, but the detail of the sculpt and paintwork were unparalleled. That’s what really caught my attention, the realism of the figures. Continue reading 65 Million Years Ago …