Just a few weeks ago, I celebrated the change of season. The color change in the leaves, the crisp autumn breeze in the air, everything around us reminds us of fall. While it’s an invigorating time of year for me, there’s just one thing I forgot about…
Shooting in the rain kinda sucks.
Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely love the rain. Whenever it rains, my wife and I open up all the windows in the house, breathe in the wonderful smell, and listen to it fall. I also love how rain looks in photographs. Actually capturing those photos, however? That’s a different story.
Like Brett, the idea of my camera getting wet terrifies me. In high school, I was shooting a short film and reviewing footage at the bottom floor of a parking garage when suddenly, a gush of water fell on me and destroyed my camera. Someone on the top floor thought it’d be a funny prank! Ever since then, even the smallest water drop on or even near my camera makes me nervous.
I won’t deny that I’m overly cautious. Most modern cameras are built with some kind of water resistance, and as long as you don’t go out in a downpour and pay close attention to how much water gets on your equipment, you’ll likely be okay.
Still, I like to play it safe, and have found these quick fixes can help ease my worries and allow me to enjoy that sweet, sweet rainfall.
The simplest and sometimes most effective way is to simply fake it. Make it look like you’re in a downpour, either through a bit of creative editing or by sitting underneath a covering. It could be an umbrella or awning, inside a gazebo, or under a heavy cover of trees.
The K-2SO shot above employed several of these methods. It was taken on my covered back patio, and given some extra rain in Photoshop. If you really want to sell the illusion, make sure to actually get some water on your subject. I’ve found that simply sticking the figure out into the actual rain does the trick while ensuring that you and your gear stay dry (and safe!)
Stay indoors completely!
This one might feel like cheating, but staying indoors and finding ways to shoot the rain outside can lead to some excellent photos.
I’ve also found that a spray bottle with a slow shutter speed, or more magic in Photoshop, can turn any studio setup into a nice rainy scene as well!
Cover your gear
If you do want to be brave and venture out into a rainstorm to capture the perfect shot, go for it! Just make sure to protect yourself and your gear accordingly. Keep your head covered, wear layers, and cover your camera, either in an affordable rain resistant case, or even a simple plastic bag.
I personally like the plastic bag method, and have found great success with it in both rain and snow.
The plastic bag trick isn’t a perfect fix, and may take some trial and error. Once you get it right though, you can turn inclement weather into a prime photo opportunity. Here’s a great video tutorial and how to achieve a seal better than the one I used above.
Do you brave the elements for your photography? What methods have you found helpful for keeping you and your gear safe? Let us know in the comments below!
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The results of Octobers $1 (or equivalent) Photo Challenge are in!! The premise of this contest was to see if an expensive toy was the secret to great toy photography. We wanted to find out if everyone was limited to taking photos of toys that cost less than $1 or the equivalent, would we see the same quality and ingenuity that we have become used to. The results are in and we can say without a doubt, that cheap toys can also for creative photography.
The winner of this months contest is John Van Regemortel for his “Landing of the Jedi on Dagobah”. He purchased this micro machine for 99 cents Euro.
Second place was awarded to Joseph Cowlishaw for capture of the rare Gray Woolfeep (Ovis Canis) that he spotted in the dry desert regions of North America.
Third place was awarded to Krzysztof Łuszpiński who may not have taken a photo of a toy, his photo captures the spirit of toy photography. I love his creative spirit! Plus he wins the honor of spending the least amount of money: 1/100 Pound (100 clips in a pack for 1 GBP). Awesome job!
I speak for all the moderators when I say how much fun this contest was. Because our subjects were cheap toys, there was no pressure to make them look good. Since we knew we couldn’t make our toys look realistic, as a group we decided to have some fun instead.
Bellow you will see some other fabulous examples from the $1 Photo Challenge taken by our moderators and our contestants. I hope you enjoy them as much as we had fun taking them.
We have posted a new challenge in our G+ Community: Detail. Here are the details:
Some say the Devil is in the detail but, here at Toy Photographers, we believe the essence of an image is in detail. Often details are overlooked by a viewer’s conscious observation, but they still add to (or detract from) an image.
Many toys out there have beautiful detail that we take for granted. Even some of the smallest toys have the odd piece that is worthwhile bringing into the image. In the photo below I have concentrated on the small logo on Cruz Ramirez’s fender. This supports both the smile and eye placements on the car and is true to character.
Why not pick up a favorite toy and look for a pattern, logo/symbol, or some other detail that is true to that character and highlight it in an image. Feel free to do this up to three times during the month. The winning photo will grace the Toy Photographers banner for December, and the winner will receive a cool Ant-Man prize. – Tony Tulloch
I hope you will join in this fun challenge and show us the details on your favorite toys. Tony has posted in our Tips and Tricks section three techniques to help you master this months challenge. So why not head over the community and check out all the details.
Thank you to everyone who participated in our $1 Photo Challenge and I look forward to seeing what you create for this months challenge on Details.
The economic uncertainty of the Great Depression created the need in the model hobbyist arena for less expensive, space saving train layouts. Through this HO scale/H0/1:87 – ‘half O’ scale was born. This scale, in which the people are roughly 2 cm tall, boomed in the 1950s and became the most popular scale for realistic model layouts in the 1960s. It remains the most popular scale today.
This popularity means more houses, scenery, people, etc. etc. But the time period in which its manufacturing exploded, is where most the items available on the market here in 2017 still reside.
Let’s take Preiser’s line of HO scale figures for example.
Preiser is a scale model manufacturer known in part for its precision hand painted, and thus high quality figures. The most recent catalog I can find available online is theirs from 2015 so here goes. The HO scale section spans pages 2 – 183 with up to 18 sets of 3 – 12 figures or so per set. Here’s a deep dive into just the very first section, pages 2 – 13. Download for your own perusal here: https://www.rocousa.com/preisercatalog.htm
On these pages, excluding children, there are 480 men and 263 women. That’s 65% men to 35% women. Within those numbers the women hold the following 25 roles:
Men, on the other hand hold the following 38:
Railway Engineer/Track Worker
Postal Worker/ Delivery man
Gender may be one noticeable gap, especially when it comes to the roles represented. But even more so is race with almost all of the figures available being white. The non-white figures sets are typically marked as such. And on this small sampling of 12 pages, 1 of the142 sets was of non-white figures – these were Japanese, and unmarked there are 4 woman and 1 man in 3 different sets that look like they may be black. That’s a total of 11 figures, 1.5% of all on these pages.
All this said, I don’t know that I’m actually trying to effect change here.
Many of the figures produced across all model train manufacturers are models that have been produced and re-produced for years and years. Train modeling is a nostalgic hobby practiced largely by white, middle aged men and therefore what is sold is going to be directed at them.
So, I think instead, those of us who photograph them have to simply be aware of the selections we’re making and what we end up portraying in our images. HO scale figures come in a huge number of options. There may be a gender gap and most definitely an ethnicity gap, but search hard enough and you might just find what you’re looking for. If all else fails, customize, modify, and paint away.
There’s an added layer of respect when shooting someone’s shtick. Wanting to do them justice adds weight to the photography process. This added weight pushes beyond the normal process; it adds more, in a constructive way. It’s the burden of respect that adds another facet to the tribute that’s created; a homage to their shtick.
This invitation was the perfect opportunity to steal correctly and attempt someone’s shtick the right way.
After his invitiation, I was tempted to ask Vesa for some tips on creating snow. But you should never ask a magician how they perform their tricks! Or is it that you can ask, but a magician never reveals their secrets? Maybe it’s never look a gift magician in the mouth? It’s like looking for a magician’s secrets in a haystack?
I could talk about mixed metaphors until the cows turn blue in the face, but it did remind me of a quote by Dean Learner from Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace.
“An eagle-eyed viewer might be able to see the wires. A pedant might be able to see the wires. But I think if you’re looking at the wires you’re ignoring the story. If you go to a puppet show you can see the wires. But it’s about the puppets; it’s not about the string. If you go to a Punch & Judy show and you’re only watching the wires, you’re a freak.” ~ Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace
The Punch & Judy Show
So with Dean’s wise words in mind, I set out to ignore the wires and focus on the story. Well, I decided to discover my own wires and not ask the puppet master if he could lend me his.
In the past I’ve tried flour to replicate snow, but it always looked too dry and seemed to photograph with a yellowish tinge? Sure, that yellow could be corrected in post, but adding moisture? Nah!
In my search for wires I came across a few recipes for snow combining baking soda with shaving cream or hair conditioner. It’s hardly surprising that there wasn’t any shaving cream in my home, so I opted for hair conditioner.
That’s the trick, that’s the trick I can’t believe that you’re falling for it That’s the fear, feel it grow Shatters the ground as it comes from below Red Fang – Malverde
That’s The Trick
Starting with some baking soda in a bowl, I slowly added the conditioner (it MUST be white in colour!) mixing it until it became the consistency I was after. Amazingly, this Frankenstein snow was even cool to the touch!
After spooning the snow onto a plate, setting the Minifigures in position I gave the whole scene a light dusting of dry baking soda though a sieve, and voila!
The glowing jack-o-lantern required a little bit more work. I made a tube of silver cardboard, made a hole in an upturned plastic takeaway container, inserted the tube, and placed my phone with the flash/torch shining up the tube under the container. I then added the snow and placed the jack-o-lantern over the cardboard light tube.
Being invited to play in the snow by Vesa challenged me to not only create my own snow, but it also tested me in how I’d approach shooting an Avanaut-esque scene.
I decided not to set the wires just as he does. Actually, my puppet show was more finger-puppets than marionettes! I played in Avanaut’s wintry wonderland, my way.
But, isn’t that how a homage should be?
I’d like to credit Avanaut as the inspiration for these photos, and also thank him for inviting me to come and play in the snow with him. Thank you Vesa.
Have you ever shot someone’s shtick? What new tricks have you discovering whilst paying homage to someone?
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I’ve heard it more than once. People want to ask “Why?” but apparently deciding it’d be rude, they just flop the unspoken question out there disguised as disbelief.
I’d had a camera since high school [Yes, they made them back then!], dabbling in everything from nature to concert work. But I’d drifted away from it, rarely dragging the old 35mm out. Then came digital and suddenly my phone had a camera! Then I acquired a tiny point & shoot and the requisite Flickr account to document some non-scan-able artwork.
It was while poking about on Flickr that I stumbled upon toy photography: 4″ Stormtroopers eating a spaghetti dinner! Ugly Dolls fighting over each other’s belongings! Tiny N-scale railroad figure; I dabbled in that pool too. People using photos to breathe life into bits of plastic! Not only did these early finds make me laugh, they inspired me to try it.
When I got back into photography much more heavily around 2009-ish, with the purchase of a DSLR, I [somehow] found myself shooting predominantly nature and wildlife – birds, for some reason, to the degree that a friend christened me “The Bird Whisperer.” Toys fell by the wayside while I shot much more “serious” stuff. Meanwhile, LEGO came out with the CMF series, and I collected the ones I liked. At times, I excused their purchase by saying “Oh, I plan to photograph these…” but it was very occasional, at best.
Fast forward a bit further to a few years ago, when the residual damage from an accident started to catch up with me. Instead of spending nearly every waking hour of every weekend out in the woods, up in the mountains, trooping through rain and snow, camera in hand, I was… home. I was exhausted, in pain, medicated, and frankly, depressed. Sometimes I’d get out for an hour or two, but not like I had been. My creative outlet was out there and I wasn’t. And I wasn’t handling it very well.
One miserable, cold, snowy day I discovered a fistful of Minifigures on the counter, next to my phone. I started pushing the figs about, noting how it looked like they were talking to and interacting with one another… and I snapped a photo. Then I remembered other figs I had, and that box of accessories I’d had for my old crew of misfit Stormtroopers. And I just kept going, regaining a creative outlet by photographing them as I did so.
Before long, there was always at least one fig in my work bag, in case an opportunity came up. When I was able to start spending more time out shooting, toys started riding along in my camera bag, as well.
And while, initially, I sort of hid my toy photography from most people, only showing the “serious” stuff… that has changed too, especially over the last year or so. Finding the Toy Photographers community has played a role in that. Seeing so much boundless creativity presented by such talented photographers inspires me on a daily basis. Not only can toy photography be technically serious, there’s no good reason to be shy about it.
And really, when you go out to dinner with friends, and they are all Instagramming their dinner but you have to set up a tiny sushi chef in the middle of yours first, you’d better get over the shyness factor, and learn to laugh at yourself – while still getting the shot!
And when they ask “Toys? Seriously?” I respond “Very.”
Because toy photography has become something I enjoy. It’s something I’m passionate about.
Ryan is currently one of our fabulous moderators in our G+ Community. Come hang out with him and all the wonderful people who make this corner of the internet special. You can follow Ryan on either G+ or Instagram
As well as supporting the regular themes, 2017 has been a big year for LEGO tying in with cinematic releases, with both inhouse and external IP. By the end of the year, we will have seen a new Star Wars movie, Wonder Woman and Justice League movies, The LEGO Batman Movie and LEGO Ninjago Movie released.
This post was provoked, in part after reading a comment about the relatively low female representation in the Collectable Minifigure sets recently released. I thought it would be interesting to revisit the question of gender distribution in some popular LEGO themes, and see if there were any significant shifts in trends over the last 12 months, when I last reviewed the numbers. The impending release of the Ideas set ‘Women of NASA’ is also of interest, as it certainly demonstrates a desire to see inspirational female role models immortalized in LEGO form.
I would like to look specifically at LEGO City, overall, as well as broken down into its major sub themes; The LEGO Batman Movie; The LEGO Ninjago Movie, and also LEGO Friends. I would also like to look at LEGO Star Wars sets released since the Force Awakens…
LEGO City: A Progressive Town?
When we last looked at LEGO city, there were some encouraging trends: almost 30% (41/144), with the ‘City Adventure subtheme’ – Volcano Explorers – featuring 10/27 mini figures with feminine characteristics. This is compared with around 10% in 2011 But what have we seen in 2017? Have we seen LEGO City approach parity, or is it still subject to a significant gender gap?
We have seen a number of sub themes this year including: Police, Transport, Coast guard/ beach life and Jungle. Some people also like to include their Creator Expert sets with their City (Modular buildings, fairground, winter village).
Creator Expert – City scale models: In the three sets mentioned there are 20 mini figures (plus one baby). Ten are female, so we have a great start for gender parity right here.
Looking in the LEGO City Police sets, 13 out 43 were demonstrating feminine characteristics, six were not clearly determined, and 24 displayed masculine characteristics. But wait, that’s just a little gender binary of you Rambling Brick… I suppose it is. I am judging these characteristics as: feminine: lipstick, maybe eyelashes, maybe a ‘figure curve shadow’ on the minifigure torso print. Figures with masculine characteristic typically demonstrate some form of facial hair.
Where I have described faces as non specific, there is no clear lipstick or facial hair on the print. These figures make it easy for the child playing with the LEGO sets under consideration to determine the gender of the figure for themselves. You are welcome to disagree with my methods.
Like ‘Fun In the Park’ last year, 60153 Fun at the Beach has a pretty evenly balanced gender mix portrayed in the included figures. If we pool the transport, beach, coastguard, ands random racing car sets (NOT Speed Champions), we have a total of fifty five mini figures, with twenty four appearing to show feminine characteristics – I felt that eight of these figures did not have a clearly specific gender: 24/55 = 43%.
Welcome to the Jungle
In this year’s Jungle sub theme, we have a mixture of adventurers and scientists trekking through the world’s jungles, seeking hidden treasures, wildlife and the occasional carnivorous plant. We have a total of twenty six figures, across seven sets. Eleven of these figures have feminine characteristics. 11/26 = 42% figures with feminine traits.
Let’s look across the entire city theme: this brings us to 49/124 figures available in sets and polybags appearing female. This brings us to 39.51%. If we include the minifigures included in this year’s Creator Expert sets (10/20 figures), the percentage edges up to 40.9%
Another story worth looking at is by looking at the number of minifigures currently available in the LEGO online store – which will include figures from older sets. So… looking at LEGO City sets available at shop.lego.com/en-AU/ on 18th October 2017, there were a total of 252 minifigures across City and Creator Expert ranges. Ninety six of these show feminine characteristics. A total of 38%. This is remarkable progress over the last few years. As time progresses, it may get closer and closer to 50%. It is interesting to note that the figures present in the Creator Expert displaying feminine traits has been around 40-50% for some time.
LEGO City is one of the company’s flagship ‘Evergreen’ themes. It is aimed particularly at a younger age group than some of the more fantastical themes such as Star Wars, Elves and Ninjago, set in a world where children develop their understanding of how the world works. The way that the gender balance has shifted over the last few years demonstrates a significant improvement over the 10% in 2011.
The LEGO Batman Movie
The LEGO Batman Movie was released earlier in the year and there is no doubt that there were some great sets, and a vast array of C-Grade villains, between the regular sets, and the collectable minifigures.
One of the drawbacks of The LEGO Batman Movie sets is the presence of LEGO Batman in almost every set. So, lets look at these sets in several ways: Unadjusted gender ratios (including collectible minifigures) and then by characters ( 23 Batman figures/costumes = one character. But Bruce Wayne is a second.). I will take this analysis to include the second wave of figures, and the imminent release of Joker Manor.
Overall, there are 98 figures released across the sets(including the bigfigs: Bane and Killer Croc, plus a further 20 CMFs, and 3 in LEGO Dimensions). There are only 3 different Batman figures (variant head pieces anyway) as well as 2 Batgirl figures. Across these sets, there are 24 figures with feminine traits, and six out of 20 CMFs. Thirty out of one hundred and fifteen (30/115= 26%)
So, lets discount the range of ludicrous BatCostumes/Joker Costumes/ Harley Quinn Costumes and Dick Grayson Tuxedos, and count only the characters released, we have 15 female characters out fifty five – 27.3% This does not seem to make a significant change to the overall ratio here, which suggests that this may have been chosen to maintain the gender balance along these lines. I will apply the character based calculation in LEGO Friends and LEGO Ninjago movie shortly as well, because in those ranges we have also multiple characters appearing multiple times across the range.
So in TLBM, we have more than a quarter, but less than thirty percent of minifigures or characters released to date having female characteristics. This is pretty close to last year’s LEGO City average.
Catching up with our Friends
Over in Heartlake City, gender bias tends to be in the other direction, with females outnumbering males significantly. We have come some way however, from the first wave of sets when only one minidoll included in that wave was male. This year, five out of 42 minidolls in new sets are male. However, many characters (especially the Andrea, Mia, Emma, Stephanie and Olivia) appear in multiple sets. Let us consider the characters released this year: we find that five out of fourteen characters released as Friends minidolls are male.
Again, however, if we look at the sets currently available on shop.lego.com, there are 12 male minidolls across the friends range (12/61= 19.6%). Looking at named characters in 2017, 10/26=38.5% of characters in Heartlake City are male. To calculate this, we only count one of each the principal characters. Alternatively of the 41 Friends sets containing minidolls, 12 contain a male figure.
The ‘Serious’ DC Extended Universe
This year has been a big year for DC, with Wonder Woman hitting the screens in July, and Justice League due to be released in November. Female characters are not common in the DC cinematic universe, however it is good to see that there are at least two Wonder Woman minifigures released in DCU Tie-in sets this year.
Considering this year’s DC Cinematic releases, we see Wonder Woman Minifigures appear in three sets, plus another variant on the cover of a DK Book. It was disappointing that there were no further releases related to the Wonder woman film other than 76075 Wonder Woman Battle: there were so many strong characters on Themascyra. Across the 4 sets released that tie in with Wonder woman and Justice League, our amazing Amazon is the only character other than Batman to appear in more than one set. There are no other female characters represented this year, with the exception of the SDCC exclusive Vixen figure. This brings our ‘non LEGO Batman Movie DCU, non Mighty Micros’ Female minifigure count up to 3 out of 16 (18%). Not knowing yet whether there are other potentially strong female characters in the Justice League film, it is hard to know whether or not the source material is to be blamed at this stage.
However, if we consider the DC Comics universe, there are dozens of female characters waiting to make their official minifigure debut. In Gotham city alone we have Spoiler, Batwoman, Cassandra and Huntress, just to name a few. And how good would it be to have a Barbara Gordon as Oracle?
The LEGO Ninjago Movie
As a movie based on one of LEGO’s own intellectual properties, the first wave of sets portrays a significant number of city dwellers. This would suggest that we might expect close to parity in our gender count. However, our heroes (and Villain) appear multiple times, in both civilian and ninja clothing. And then there is the Shark army, with a remarkable amount of stubble on their chins. Or is there?
So, lets start off with the raw numbers. To date there have been 17 sets released, plus a series of 20 collectable mini figures. In the Collectable Minifigures range (71019), we have six female characters: Nya, Misako, Shark Army General #1, the GPL Tech, N-Pop Girl and also, hidden under all that awkward headgear, the Shark Army Angler. That is six out of twenty (6/20=30%).
Looking at the LEGO Ninjago movie sets, we see a total of 85 mini figures, including Kai’s Dojo Pod Set. Only thirteen of these figures have female traits. This is around 15% of the minifigures associated with the LEGO Ninjago movie sets being female.
Why does our data seem to be skewed, reducing the proportion of female representation, when it would appear that many of the LEGO Themes this year are increasing the ration of female:male figures? In part there are three manniquins/figureless sets of clothes so we can discount them from our denominator: 13/82 =15.8%. We also have multiple occurrences of our ninja force: and of the 14 members of the shark army seen in the sets, all are male. Let us add the two members from the CMF series: this brings is 1/16 shark army members are female, plus one of two generals depicted.
So: if we pool our populations by character, so that duplicate characters do not count: –
Shark Army/ Gardemon Two out of eleven characters (both in the CMF range) are female (19%)
Ninja Force (including Sensei Wu): Nya is the only one of the six characters in this group who is female – so one in six . Each character has multiple representations, with Kai appearing in seven figures, and Nya appearing four times. Zane has only three occurrences in the Movie related sets. Each figure appears in multiple versions of ‘Uniformed’ as well as in civilian clothing.
Non Shark Army, non Ninjas: These residents of Ninjago City make up twenty three characters released in the CMF and first wave of sets associated with the LEGO Ninjago Movie. For the sake of the sums, the GPL tech has been included in this list. Ten of them are women. (10/23=43%)
But were there opportunities wasted? I think it is disappointing that we did not have a figure of Iron Lady Dragon released in the first wave of sets, but she will appear twice in the next wave of sets. Are there other figures that could be represented? The bride from the movie trailer? Other Schoolmates of the Ninjas? Their high school teacher? I do think there were some further options available, and it would be good to see them appear in future waves of Ninjago Movie sets.
So 43% of the city residents are female; 12.5% of the Shark army are female and 16% of the Ninja Force.
Star Wars: In search of a New Hope…
The original trilogy has a paucity of strong female characters, beyond Princess Leia. We see Aunt Beru – rapidly killed off, Mon Mothma, leader of the rebellion and no one else is named. Three characters in three movies. At least Leia had a variety of outfits, which have been able to be developed over the years. Mon Mothma has appeared in only one set, and Beru has never appeared in minifigure form.
So, I performed a quick and dirty, back of the serviette, calculation of the number of Female Star Wars Minfigures released over the last twenty years. I referred to Bricklink’s Browse mini figures feature, selecting Star Wars as the Theme. With Sixty six out of nine hundred and eleven different figures (including droids and clones), that is barely 7%. In comparison, there are fifty variations on Luke Skywalker ALONE!
I thought it would be interesting to see if there had been a change in the representation of women since the release of the Force Awakens, so let us look at the number of female characters represented in LEGO Star Wars sets since 2014 ( the last year before the ‘Disney films’)
The release of The Force Awakens in 2015 should see things look up, after all Rey flies off in the Millennium Falcon doesn’t she? While Rey gets a figure, she is on her speeder, and not in the Falcon. Still, 7/81 female figures is all we have to show for the year that saw first season of Rebels and The Force Awakens. They do, however, put the original trilogy to shameas far as female representation is concern.
2016: Last year we saw the release of subsequent sets based on Rebels, Episodes 1-VII and episodeVII, as well as as the Star Wars Story Rogue One. Only Eleven Figures out of 115 are female. (9.56%)
2017: This year, eight out of seventy six mini figures to be found in Star Wars sets are depicting female characters.
Despite the strong leads: Leia, Jyn Erso and Mon Mothma and Rey in the movies currently being considered, the general availability of these figures is diappointing. Most only appear in one set. This is sad, as in part it suggests that there has been no movement on the from of gender ratios in the current film franchise, AND Lego are not taking all of the opportunities to produce fresh new characters for the Sets. And let us not forget that two of those appear in the $AU1300 Millennium Falcon – so, not easily accessible at this point! There does not appear to have been a specific tipping point in LEGO Star Wars, unlike City which has rapidly increased its female representation in recent years.
But, are things really so bleak in the Star Wars Minifigure Universe?
Why not exclude the ‘faceless’ masses of clone troopers, storm troopers, droids, unnamed non-humans from our calculations, perhaps we will see a higher ratio of female to male mini figures. This graph demonstrates how this has changed. It is important to recognise, however, that even though this calculation results in a ‘best score’ of 18% in 2012, and only 16 2/3% this year. However, there has been an increase in the number of ‘non central’ female characters appearing in the Star Wars mini figures, such as ground crew, and ranking officers. While there has been an increase in the absolute number of female minifigures released each year, compared with 2010, we have also seen a significantly greater number of Star Wars minifigures released each year.
So, in summary, LEGO City has made great leaps forward towards equal gender representation in recent years and continues to lead the way on the path to gender equality amongst minifigure representation. At almost 40% this year, it is still a significatnt improvement over last year.
Themes referencing intellectual properties, either in house such as Ninjago, or external such as Star Wars, DC Superheroes and LEGO Batman Movie, are limited somewhat by the source material. There does, however, seem to be a general trend to have increased diversity in ‘non principal’ characters.
LEGO Friends also has improved balance overall, with almost 30% of sets available containing at least one male minidoll, and over 35% of characters currently on the shelves are male.
Star Wars still has some room for improvement. There are still some pivotal characters yet to be seen in LEGO form, including Shmi Skywalker (Anakin’s mother), and Luke’s Aunt Beru.
I suspect that City will remain the benchmark for gender equality in the world of LEGO Minifigures. (For the record, Collectible mini figures are a bit below the current par, with 5/16 in the regular series this year, and 6/20 in the movie related series being female.)
I hope you have enjoyed this update on the depiction of gender characteristics in LEGO Minifigures, for 2017.
What do you think? Will it still take too long for your old minifigure collection to approach parity? Is it just a good start? Why not leave your comments below, subscribe for updates and share this post with your friends…
I’ve done a 365-project before and something seems to happen in mid-October. It’s that part of the year when the days get shorter and the rain gets more intense. Because I am a photographer who prefer to work with daylight, this time of the year always is unexpected. Until mid-October hits me the light has been my friend.
During work days
During work days, I photograph the kitchen with flash as a light source. During the project mid-October meant mer than the fact that I had to find the flash. I also realized that my ideas and my lack of attributes make the images feel predictable. And a bit boring to do. Many days this project feels like one other thing I have to do.
My doubts are high and I wonder what this 365-project will give me…
My first 365-project gave me invaluable knowledge about technics. Doing an image a day made me find my language or at least the beginning of what would become my language as a photographer.
My second taught me to develop my style, my expression and to work with the flash, a controlled light as a tool.
This is my third, what have I learned more than October means that the light disappears and with that also the desire and the will to creat. I do not yet see what I have learned, but I have some insights:
The first one is that ”a lego-figure” is a tough toy to vary a story around. I would say that as a toy for a story it requires attributes. Many legophotographers like to use attributes like faces to enhance their story. I use a bit of attribute but my toy box is limited, by choise. I prefer to let the viewer read emotions / mood in the image via the light and the choice of location, time, angle and composition.
In my first 365-project the lego-figure was an attribute, and looking back at that I think the next toy-project will be with another sort of toy – no more – lego for me… When I do a new toy-porject I’ll probably choose use lego-figures be just attributes. I am currently doubting that I am a pure lego photographer.
I also doubt what the value of a 365-project. To take a picture a day is not really a challenge, it’s mostly a matter of planning.
How to Steal Like an Artist is the title of a book you should read. Yes…you! The sub title of this amazing (and short) books is: 10 things nobody told you about being creative. And if you’re reading this blog, then you’re a creative. So you should read it.
We all like to look at other people’s toy imagery and get ideas for our own photos. Recently I had a conversation with a friend who stopped following a fellow photographer because he said: he learned everything he needed to learn from her. A shocking statement to make, but at least an honest one. We all look and learn. Its how we get better at our craft.
In my early days on Instagram I would also look at other peoples images and take my cues from their work. I incorporated many of their ideas into my own work in my search for my own style and voice. I looked at all sorts of different toy photographers. Photographers who worked with a variety of toys. Even though we are all toy photographers we approach the subject in (hopefully) unique ways. I enjoy learning from these differences. Today, I still do skim through Instagram and Flickr, although not to the extent I used to. Now when I look at others peoples images, I’m looking for accessories or mini figures I may want to purchase.
My style of short depth of field, crisp focus, creamy bokeh, lots of empty space surrounding the figures is a style that emerged over time. This style evolved, not only from taking thousands of toy photos, but from my earlier work as an underwater photographer. I put the ideas of many other photographers through my unique filter and came up with my own look that, even to this day, is easily recognizable.
So how do you steal like an artist in a way that does not directly copy another toy photographer. It’s actually pretty easy, and based on what I’ve been seeing lately, needs to be repeated.
Good Ways to Steal Like an Artist
Honor your heroes by not copying them
Study the ‘why‘ of what they are doing, not the ‘what‘
Steal from many creative people, not just one
credit those you’re emulating
transform what they’re doing into your own work
remix the ideas that inspire you
Bad Ways to Steal like an artist
By copying your hero’s you degrade them
Stealing means you only superficially understand what they’re doing
steal from only one person
plagiarize, this means stealing without giving credit
blatantly rip off
What to copy is little bit trickier. Don’t just steal the style, steal the thinking behind the style. You don’t want to look like your heroes, you want to seelike your heroes. – Austin Kleon
It can be a fine line between copying, emulating, stealing or being influenced by another artist. If you’re in doubt where you fall on this spectrum, there is an easy way to solve the dilemma: give credit to the artist that inspires you.
No New Ideas Under the Sun
I think most people would be hard pressed not to see an image of a stormtrooper in a snow storm and not think of Vesa Lehtimäke. If you’re taking photos along these lines, you can easily add a simple line to your caption: taken in the style of Avanaut. By doing this you’re not only crediting the originator but honoring your hero. Also, you may unwittingly be making a friend.
We all know there are no new ideas under the sun. No one is saying that Vesa owns every image of a stormtrooper ever taken in a snow storm. But until you have put this simple idea successful through your own filter, put your own twist on it, understood the ‘why’ of his images, not the how, then you should pay homage to the master.
Imitation is not flattery – Austin Kleon
Trust me, if you do this, you will create an image that is completely your own. You will not have look over your shoulder to see if anyone notices that you just ripped off another artists idea. And really isn’t that what we all want to be doing, creating original work?
How to successfully steal from your heroes is only one of the many great topics covered in Steal Like an Artist. Other chapters that have inspired me are:
Side Projects and Hobbies are Important
Geography is No Longer Your Master
Whatever your creative bent is, I’m sure you will find some ideas in this book worthy of your attention.
If you want to be a successful creative its important to know the ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ way to steal your ideas. In the toy photography community there are many different styles that all have their origin with a specific artist. Avanaut isn’t the only toy photographer with a distinctive style. Other artists that have been pioneers in their genres are Matt Rhode, Johnny Wu, Kristina Alexanderson, Mike Stimpson, Mitchel Wu, Lynn Moore, Luigi Priori and Brett Wilson to only name a few. I respect and admire these photographers who have managed to carve out their own unique style amongst the clutter of social media. When I see one of their images, I have no doubt who’s work I’m looking at.
Even with all the hundreds of toy photographers flooding social media with their creations, there is plenty of room to create your own distinct style. There are many photographers that have managed to do this before you and there will be many who succeed after you.
The only question I want to ask you is this: do you steal like an artist, or just steal?
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Avid travelers, occasional tourists, whoever you are, if you’re a toy photographer, when you leave town you probably bring a toy figure or two (or ten).
Historic Artistic Travel
From the very early days of photography, travel photography has been a part of the medium. From the time photography came to be, those who had the capability to travel were, and they were creating momentos of their travels – from Francis Bedford’s pyramids, George Wilson’s Temple of Jupiter, Francis Frith’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre, to the works of Maxime Du Camp, Solomon Nunes Carvalho, James Ricalton all created in the 1840s & 50s. And the history of artistic travel doesn’t stop there painters make images of their world travels as well.
Perhaps the most iconic toy photography example would be Brian McCarty’s War Toys, a project he began in 2011. In this, he travels to war zones and creates images while there using locally sourced toys to illustrate stories shared with him by local children. I’m simplifying his work overly so, so please learn more here.
Why We Do It
All in all, humans like saving their memories, they like souvenirs, not to mention, we’d have very limited world views if there were no images of other places and cultures.
As toy photographers, the items we photograph are often an extension of ourselves and how we feel about the world. Because of this they become perfect representations of our feelings toward the places we visit.
We can savor our memories, while creating new narratives around them. Explore a new place an inch from ground level. Tell tales and weave experiences that no other person who has visited that place can.
We give toys memory and a sense of adventure by allowing them to travel the world.