To Delete, or Not to Delete?

Jennifer’s recent blog post about image recovery shed some new light on a dilemma I’ve been facing since the day I became a photographer. In a bit of a technical snafu, Jennifer nearly lost a bunch of photos she’d taken – which is a pretty big fear of mine. As a result, I find it incredibly difficult to delete photo files – even long after the final shot has been posted! Continue reading To Delete, or Not to Delete?

A Raptor Chapter that we hope doesn’t end

The Raptor Pack Day

April the 22nd, just like every 22nd since 2013 was Raptor Pack Day; a day where the Toy Dino Squad invite us to share our dinosaur photographs.

I’ve played along in the past. I’m a forgetful knucklehead and the 22nd either slips past me, or it’s on 22nd that I’m reminded by seeing someone’s dino post (usually the 22nd for them on the other side of the world so it’s the 23rd for me?), but when I do remember, or I’m reminded, I join in. Continue reading A Raptor Chapter that we hope doesn’t end

Seattle Toy Safari- video teaser

The Seattle Toy Safari was one year ago and the memories are still fresh. As excitement builds for the attendees of this weeks San Francisco Tay Safari, I want to share with you a small taste of last years event.

One of my projects around last year’s event was to create a behind the scenes video. I hired two friends to work along side the talented Leila Chieko to video the entire event. The goal of this project is to create a video that will show why these events are so much fun and to share a little of the magic. We interviewed many of the attendees so they can tell you in their own words why they attend and why they love to take photographs of toys. Continue reading Seattle Toy Safari- video teaser

With Gratitude

It’s been awhile since I’ve created a gratitude post. But their have been so many changes these first few months of 2017, I thought it was high time. I’ve always felt it’s worth a moment to pause and take time to reflect on what it is really important to me: friendships and connections. And so far this year has been incredible in both of these areas.

Change is inevitable. Change is constant. ~ Benjamin Disraeli

Continue reading With Gratitude

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?

Learning Lego

The Beginning

Quite a few months ago a friend asked if I’d ever shoot Lego. I said ‘probably not’ and went on to explain that something so recognizable in an image makes it all about that item, whether for or against, you can’t have just a message all on its own.

Rethinking

I was being a bit narrow minded. Continue reading Learning Lego

Toy Photographer’s Meet-Up – Italian Style!

I virtually met Shelly on the Internet approximately one year ago and soon discovered her toy photographers’ meet-ups. I’ve definitely wanted to go to one; unfortunately the dates and locations didn’t work for me.

So, I started thinking about how I could organize my own. Well, organize is a big word. My lack of experience unequivocally didn’t help me at all, but the wish to take part in one was too strong to resist.

My original idea was to gather people together at my LUG’s annual LEGO exhibition. Every year Cremona Bricks hosts a big meet up. This year it was the sixth edition of it, with more than 80 exhibitors from all over Northern Italy. If you’re curious about the event you can have a look at this gallery on Flickr. Initially this seemed like the biggest mistake ever! Since we’re all LEGO fans too, we spent a lot of time looking at dioramas and the MOCs. We also spent time buying custom accessories in the market area. Continue reading Toy Photographer’s Meet-Up – Italian Style!

Gathering more than just photos

May 6th, 2014. When @zenith_ardor got a LEGO Tauntaun for his birthday and I’d just ordered one online, @smokebelch2 joked that there was “gonna be a Tauntaun showdown”. His taunts morphed into a photo gathering, the #tauntaunshowdown. An impromptu get together that spawned many more photography gatherings.

Together with @east_mountain, the four us started ‘hosting’ themed photography gatherings on Instagram from time to time.

There was nothing official about these gatherings. They were just a bunch of friends inviting others to join in and post photos based around a given theme, on a particular date or weekend. The unofficial tagline for these gatherings is “No winners. No losers. Just fun.” Continue reading Gathering more than just photos

Come to the Dark Side, we have cookies!

If you’ve ever read the Toy Photographers blog, you know that we’re big fans of Google+.

We leave a little invite to our community at the end of each blog post, and Shelly herself has written several posts about the thriving platform, the big opportunities available there, and how our community was even featured in Mashable earlier this year.

I won’t rehash too much of what Shelly has already said here, but because of the disappointing and frustrating goings on over at Instagram at the moment, I thought I’d take this opportunity to offer my two cents on why Google+ has quickly become my go-to platform for toy photography. Continue reading Come to the Dark Side, we have cookies!

A Day in the Life of a Toy Photographer

As I ride the bus to meet my sister, I think of Brett’s post about how he went to Sydney and there was no sun to take pictures. He was unable to take the pictures he had planned due to the weather.

I was looking forward to this day. I was going to get to see a part of the city I haven’t been before. And with my sister by my side, we would have so much fun and take so many Lego shots. Continue reading A Day in the Life of a Toy Photographer