Instagram as a Tool to a Better You!

Some times when Me2 and I debate we have to agree to disagree, but we rarely disagree on the value of Instagram. Of course Instagram will always have a soft spot for me because I met many great toy photographers, like Me2, on Instagram but I also developed my own voice and personal vision.

There is something thrilling about posting images to Instagram and getting instant feedback from your peers. For almost two years I was posting daily pictures to Instagram, participating in the toy photography community, looking at others peoples feeds, trying lots of different styles and generally playing around in a no pressure environment. I have posted comics, interior studio set ups, quickie iPhone photos and over edited shots as I have experimented finding my personal voice. I have also experimented with a variety of Lego mini figures to find the ones that convey what I want say. All this intense editing, shooting and looking helped me to narrow my choices and find my place within this community.

Recently I was asked how I created the image below. The hope was that I could quantify the image into a f/stop, a film speed and an ISO to show others how it is done. But really, the secret is pretty simple: take lots of photographs. Did I say lots of photos? I mean A LOT of photographs, hundreds, thousands, whatever it takes. Of course luck has its place, but with more shooting this becomes less important. After you take a million photos you will know what works and what to avoid.

Sure, knowing the rule of thirds, how to control focus, depth of field and basic editing skills are also essential, but shooting thousands of photos will get you their even faster. And having a place like Instagram to post them is a wonderful outlet to all this content you have created along the way. The feedback (or lack of feedback) you get on your photos is essential. Having a supportive community to cheer you on as you struggle with your personal vision is a pretty heady experience.

So utilize the heck out of Instagram, get involved, share your passion, meet new friends and watch your photography improve along the way. Because Instagram is a great tool to finding your personal vision, becoming a better photographer and improving your editing skills. Plus, its lots of fun!!

-xxsjc

Back to Square One!

I was researching 500px today in my continuing quest to find other amazing toy photographers and I was impressed by the quality of the photos presented. If you are not familiar with 500px it is a photo sharing site similar to Flickr. It also has a secondary feature called 500px Prime which is designed to match advertisers up with photographers happy to sell their photos for $250US. You can purchase royalty free usage of any of these incredible photos, which gives the purchaser the right to use the photo, in any way they see fit, for as long as they want. That is an incredible deal! 

If this doesn’t prove my point that photography has been rendered valueless by the sheer volume of images being produced, I don’t know what does. 

I think it is time to go back to square one or at least January 1. 

My New Years resolution this year was to take myself less seriously and I think it’s high time to revisit this idea. Toy photography should be (and is) fun! 

I’m open to a revolution but my revolution will need to include a fair amount of silliness and fun. And maybe, through my lego photos, I can bring a few extra smiles into the world. 

Viva la Revolution!! 

~ xxsjc

Banksy is My Hero!

Weird things happen when Me2 disappears into one of his top secret assignments. I tend to go off topic…like now. 


“The time of getting fame for your name on its own is over. Artwork that is only about wanting to be famous will never make you famous. Any fame is a by-product of making something that means something. You don’t go to a restaurant and order a meal because you want to have a shit.” – Banksy


This quote was included in the comments in one of my previous post by the talented @mister_bricks. He altered the quote slightly by replacing “fame” with “likes”.  This quote resonated with me and I felt it was appropriate to revisit the topic “Is Their Life Beyond Instagram?”

I’ll be clear, I’m not looking for likes for my photos. I create them for my own pleasure. I enjoy the Instagram community that has nurtured and inspired me for the last two years. But posting pictures on Instagram can only be satisfying for so long. 

I believe that one of our goals here at Stuckinplastic is to unite like minded photographers who would like to take their toy photography to a new level. Specifically, showing them in real life. This could include displaying them at a cafe in your neighborhood, creating a pop up art gallery or some version of gorilla street art a la Banksy. Whatever or wherever our imaginations take us is fine by me. 


Let’s storm the gates, let’s create an art movement, let’s rejoice in the fact that we are brothers in arms that just happen to be stuck in plastic!

– xxsjc

Is their life beyond Instagram?

Yesterday, I was out taking photos with my good buddy Mr. S (the genius behind Bricksailboat) and we had an interesting conversation regarding our involvement in Instagram and if there is life beyond Instagram for our photographs. After some introspection (not my strong suit), I realized this is what Me2 and I are trying to find out. He is currently attempting to move our mutual fans from Instagram to Facebook or Google+ and ultimately to this blog, through his generous print giveaway. He of course has had some initially success, but I began to wonder what the ultimate end game was? 

Through my professional career I have watched photography become embraced by the masses with the advent of the phone camera. Many of these photos are distributed through social media sites like Facebook (350 million per day as of 2/2/13) and Instagram (55 million a day as of 3/6/2014) and many more never even leave the phones or cameras they are taken on. That is one hell of a lot of photos per day!! How does one even get noticed amongst this fire hose of images? Is it even necessary to get noticed? Why do we take photos in the first place? 

Me2 mentioned a Pandoras Box when we talked earlier about editing apps, but to me this might be the ultimate question: Why do we do what we do here? Or more specifically: Why do I take photographs that will (realistically) only be seen by a few friends and my family? 

Below is my most liked photo ever on Instagram and it makes me wonder if getting 500+ likes is about as good as it’s going to get? What do you think? 

– xxsjc

A Brave New Future!

We will definitely get back to the Pandoras Box alluded to in the last couple of posts. But before we get too far ahead of ourselves I want to back track a little it.

When I mentioned earlier that I had left both Facebook and Twitter in the same day, I probably didn’t mention that it was in one of those self destructive moods I occasionally find myself in. I certainly don’t regret the decision to essentially explode my social media life, but I realize in hindsight it was absolutely necessary. 
As an artist I like to occasionally reinvent myself. First I was a fine arts photographer for 20 years (back when that actually meant something), then a rocktographer and then a videographer. All those iterations of myself have created connections. I felt constrained by these connections and I wanted to rid myself of them. I have faith that anyone I have a meaningful connection with will find me again. 
So for three weeks I was blissfully free. No twitter, no FB, no one metaphorically looking over my shoulder. This has ended rather suddenly and I am back on Twitter and I have replaced FB with Google Plus, all for a good cause. I am committed to growing #StuckinPlastic into something meaningful and of course making a few new friends along the way. 
I want to thank everyone who has already connected with us via FB and G+. Our community is growing and I couldn’t be more pleased. If you are on Twitter, please look us up there too. 
So here is to exploding the past in the name of moving forward into a brave new future. 
– xxsjc

How far is too far?

With the prevalence of filters and their relative ease of use, how far is too far?
Rarely do I jump at the bait of contests on IG, usually I’m too busy doing my own thing. But recently one caught my eye and I decided to try my hand. The parameters are pretty simple: create an image using Snapseed’s HDR Scape filter. This is not a filter I ever use favoring a more natural look to my photos, but hey, trying new things is good! Right? So I present to you a before and after of one of the images I submitted. Personally I felt I had taken this image about as far as I could using this app, but I was informed by one of the judges I had not taken it to the “ludicrous” level. I laughed and told him I had! Maybe we just started at two different points on the editing spectrum.
Should I take my editing even farther? Where do you stop? Is this even a relevant discussion? 
I’m sure Me2 will have something witty to say.  
~ xxsjc 

Ready or not…


Three weeks ago I impulsively shut down my Facebook and Twitter accounts (more on this later), of course this was before “The Wager”. Me2 and I have a little friendly competition going to see who can get the word out fastest regarding our collaboration #StuckinPlastic. I chose Google+ as my preferred social media platform and with much bravado and trash talk set off on my quest to get the word out. Well maybe I spoke too soon. They few friends I have connected with on G+ are from my past lives and aren’t active anymore; my battle will be decidedly uphill. 


In a moment of weakness I reactivated my FB account, thinking I could lurk around the edges and help promote this new endeavor; boy was I wrong. After seeing my feed again, my reaction was instantaneous and visceral. I fled as fast as my curser could find “log out”. I may have to concede this competition to Me2 sooner than I might like, but not without reaching out and making a few new friends along the way. So all you G+ AFOL Lego community members… ready or not, here I come! 
~ xxsjc 

Here comes the sun…

The future is very foggy right now (per usual). So while waiting for the fog to clear (or someone gives me a better road map) Emmett suggested a trip to the beach. Even though the high was only 59F (15C for everyone else) we still had fun. Emmett enjoyed playing in the sand as I read a book. Hopefully a new course will be set soon, in the mean time I’ll always have Emmett. ~ xxsjc

On Ice…

It seems that Me2 and I are living parallel lives except without the hardware crash. While he awaits jury notification on his entry to Fotografiska I am also on ice for the foreseeable future.

My fate is currently in someone else’s hands and it remains to be seen which way the ice will flow. But either way, the adventure will continue and I will console myself with a lovely cup of tea. I wonder if Sir D is available?

xxsjc

Insufferable Arrogance

“The insufferable arrogance of human beings to think that Nature was made solely for their benefit, as if it was conceivable that the sun had been set afire merely to ripen men’s apples and head their cabbages.”  Cyrano de Bergerac

In our supreme arrogance we may also think we are alone in the universe, we are the only ones pursuing a particular dream or that we alone have the answers; I am not that person. I know I am only one piece of the puzzle as I strive to find my place. I want to create that which will compliment and expand the human experience.

 – xxsjc