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

New Metrics Needed

“Do what you love and the money will follow.” ~ Marsha Sinetar

I dislike this quote. It simplifies a very complex equation into a convenient sound bite. 
The first problem is the assumption that a creative individual wants money and their passion to be intertwined. It’s a nice thought, but money changes everything. Just ask Michelangelo. Do you think the Sistine Chapel would have been painted if Pope Julius II hadn’t commissioned it? He was a sculptor, not a painter. But that is what happens when money changes hands. 
Second it presumes that success and money are synonymous. In an age when the arts and crafts are barely supported by the establishment we need to find a measure of success other than money. In the world of Instagram and Flickr where success is seen in terms of likes, followers and comments is this really enough of a metric? I don’t know, but I doubt it
I was showing my photography to a new contact the other day and their immediate response was “I hope you’re making money off of those!” I know he meant this as a compliment, but I couldn’t help being annoyed with a world that equates success with money.
So in the absence of a large benefactor like The Church, Big Inc or a wealthy patron we need to look for another way to measure an artists success (or failure). In a world that does not value photography or photographers with money, we need to develop new metrics; whether they be rooted in social media or preferably the real world.

~ xxsjc

How do you measure the success of your passion? 
I never went into the air thinking I would lose. 

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?

Moving Beyond the Instagram Toy Community

I love the fact that the toy photography community on Instagram is so incredibly supportive. Most people are generous with their “likes” and comments and it’s a wonderful place to play. But occasionally it feels a little insular and it’s nice to branch out into other communities. It’s always fun to make new friends and expand peoples understanding of toy photography along the way.


When I joined the photo sharing site Streamzoo (RIP), I was introduced to the wonderful world of macro photographers. Now that Streamzoo has ceased to exist, many of those same photographers have migrated to Instagram and I have continued my relationship with them. Sure this community has a penchant for bugs, flowers and water droplets, but they also recognize and support toy photography.

If you are interested in branching out beyond the regular toy community tags, here is a list of the macro communities on Instagram that I am aware of. Feel free to check them out and see if there might be a good fit for your own work. 
@BNWMacros
@Colors_Hub
@Flair_Macro *
@Flawless_Macros
@Global_Nature _Macro
@HDMacros *
@IG_4every1
@IG_Closeups *
@JJ_JustMacros
@Macro_Champ
@Macro_Perfection
@Macro_Premier
@Macro_Secrets
@Macroclique * 
@MacroStalking
@MD_Macro
@MyDailyMacro
@Nature_Obsessions
@TGIF_Macro
@Visual_World
The communities marked with an asterisk have been the most receptive to my work, especially @HDMacros. If you are looking for exposure beyond the toy community this is a great place to start. 

~ xxsjc

Are you involved in any communities on Instagram other than toys?
If so, what are they and why?

Bunnies and flowers! What is there not to like??

The “Like” Trap

This was posted on G+ the other day by a photographer I follow:

“I may have hit the inevitable conclusion that more I try to find a fit for my photography in other’s lives, the more unhappy I become. Social media has inevitably turned from the place of hope to just the typical empty echo chamber that it is. I really need to find a way to go back to shooting for myself and not others.” ~ Anonymous

After reading the comments it seems that he is looking for validation for his photographs in terms of “likes” and favorites. It is easy to fall into the trap of having lots of followers who give feedback to feel like you are moving in the right direction. But this is an ugly trap.

Social media, be it Twitter, Facebook, Google, Flickr or whatever, will not give you the feedback you need and most likely crave. (Let’s be realistic, we all have egos that enjoy an occasional stroking.) I talked earlier about the sheer volume of photos posted daily to FB and G+ here. With this volume of photographs being posted you need to find your motivation from within yourself or from with the work you are doing. It’s near impossible to be seen in this onslaught of imagery. Lets face the harsh reality, more than likely you will be making work that no one really cares about except you.

So stop chasing “likes,” chasing followers, chasing the latest photo trend and create the work that makes you happy. If it’s photos of babies and cats, then make them the best photos they can be. Be it toys or water droplets it doesn’t matter…the only one who is setting the rules is you.

And you know what, if you do the work you love, you never know who is going to start following you. Sometimes miracles do happen.

~ xxsjc

I used an image of a Chima because I have noticed that they usually get 50-100 less “likes” on Instagram than any other image I post. If I was going for the most likes per image I wold post only Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle photos. But I love Eglor and all the characters of the Chima tribes and I will continue to explore my universe with them.

Art vs Money

I found this quote in Art & Fear :

“When bankers get together for dinner, they discuss Art. When artists get together for dinner, they discuss money.” ~ Oscar Wilde

It seems that life in the ninteenth century was not so different from life in the twenty-first century.

~ xxsjc

Did you buy your copy of Art & Fear yet?
How many different versions of Unikitty do you have? 

Grateful (3/3)

How could I not take a moment and say thank you to everyone who has ever supported my toy photos on Instagram, Flickr, G+ and especially here at Stuckinplastic? The connections forged here on the internet amongst this far flung group of like minded souls fills my heart with joy.

To be inspired by and to inspire like minded toy photographers is a great thrill for me. I wish I could name every person who has inspired me or made me feel happy with their kind words. But they are too numerous and I would ultimately leave someone out. I’m pretty sure if you find this post and read it, then you are one of those people and I am grateful for making a connection with you.

Everyone has a bucket list of some type. Often this list is filled with adventures like skydiving, climbing Mount Everest or traveling to some far flung local. On the top of my list is a party akin to the farewell party thrown by +Me2 after his adventure in search of the Northern Light. To sit around a table for an evening with all my Instagram and toy photography friends toasting, gabbing, talking toys would bring me the greatest joy. When I first saw his pictures here on the blog I actually got emotional. It was like my dream was coming true, even for a brief moment, and it was lovely.

I am looking forward to 2015 because there are possibilities on the horizon that could lead to an evening like Me2 depicted. The first is the Toy Photo Meet-up in Las Vegas, Nevada, January 16-19th. A few of my favorite toy photographers are going to attend and I hope to persuade a few more to join us. But who ever ultimatly attends, know we will be toasting all the friends we have made on Instagram. The second event is in early March and I will reveal more information as it becomes appropriate.

So thank you Instagram and Stuckinplastic friends. You bring me joy, humor and friendship everyday and I am grateful for all of it.

~ xxsjc

Grateful (2/3)

I’m sure this one is pretty self explanatory, but I am thankful for my family. I’m not foolish enough to think that I could be taking lego photos, volunteering, running 1/2 of Stuckinplastic as well as 1/3 of Brickcentral (as well as my regular life and job responsibilities) without some serious family support.

Not only do they support my photo antics, they actually encourage them. My husband will buy me unusual mini figs as gifts, my daughter keeps my up to date on the doings at the Lego store she works at and my son helps me build props as well as accompanies my on my photo adventures.

They all know that when we go on a family adventure there is a good chance my Lego friends will be coming along as well. They are all happy to hang out for an hour or more while I take advantage of some interesting local to snap a couple of photos. This past weekend was no exception. We went on a hike and I had some quality photo time at our destination as well as some quality time photographing at the lake at the base of the trail.

It’s not easy to be an adult playing with toys. Not having to explain myself to the ones I love is a blessing I don’t take for granted. Of course many of my friends fall somewhere between enthusiastic and skeptical, but they are slowly coming around. My parents…now that’s another story altogether.

~ xxsjc

How do your family and friends react to your hobby?
Do you have a photographic support system? If so, who are they?

Taken on a gloomy day at the end of a lovely hike.

Grateful (1/3)

I’m out of practice blogging, but +me2‘s last post put me in mind of a series of posts about gratitude. I know it’s not the holidays, but sometimes it’s nice to sit back and take stock of where you are and why.

Even though I graduated from university with a degree in photography and had a successful art career, I never felt like I knew what I was doing. I would joke that if the subject wasn’t under water I wouldn’t know what to do. This was shockingly close to the truth. 
When my art career ended I was at loose ends and struggling to find my place artistically. Through a random series of events I ended up volunteering at my local independent radio station KEXP. The gentlemen I work with have been generous with their patience, guidance and willingness to share information. I felt like I was in school again. Over the past five years I’ve learned how to handle my dslr, light a room, video like a pro, work as a team member and most importantly travel successfully with nine distinctly different and mostly male personalities. 
Our last adventure together was to a nearby music festival, Pickathon. Since we always travel short handed I volunteered to not only help with video but to take care of still photos of the bands. Basically I would be doing double duty. I took all my lenses with me: 70-200 for video, my favorite wide angle lens, my go-to 24-70 and on the off chance I could sneak in a lego photo my 100 mm macro (which is also a great portrait lens).  The upshot of taking stills for three days, 100’s of photos and multiple lens changes is that I actually understand how and when to use each of these lenses. I also learned each lenses strengths and weaknesses. It was glorious. 
Since I’m an art / casual photographer I rarely have this kind of intense photographic experience. I left mentally exhausted but happy with my efforts. It was also gratifying to find out my current toy photography editing work flow also worked great in the field. It is mazing to me how much these two hobbies of mine, toy photography and music videos, inform and influence each other. In many ways I wish my stills could be as good as the work I turn in with video. I am sure in time it will.
In the mean time there is never a day that goes by that I’m not grateful by this volunteering experience. I have learned so much over the years, made friends and met more than a few amazing musicians. 
~ xxsjc
Where did you learn your photographic skills: traditional school or the school of hard knocks? 
Have you considered sharing your photography skills as a volunteer?
If you want to see the entire set of photos I took, look here.
Pickathon’s main stage at night.