Winning the Lottery

I’m sure for most people winning the lottery conjures up images of piles of money but for a fan of Lego it means scoring a rare set at regular price.

A few weeks ago I tried to purchase set #21110 The Research Institute and set #21109 The Exo Suit and found out that they were either “Sold Out” or “temporarily out of stock” on the Lego web site. They were not to be found at either of my local Lego stores; in fact they were going for double and triple their original asking price on the secondary market.

Aggggghhhhhh

Well, who should come to my rescue but my daughter, Sierra. My daughter is amazing. While I have coped with the excess of Lego in my house by photographing it, she went and got a job at our local Lego Store. This has both it’s pluses and minuses, trust me.

First she found set #21110 at our local toy store Math ‘n Stuff. I love Math ‘n Stuff because they sell Lego, they have an amazing set-up at our local BrickCon and they often have older sets at regular price. The staff is always friendly and did I mention they are only two blocks away? Sierra happened to be in Math n’ Stuff last week to get a new puzzle and spied a case of #21110 behind the counter. One thing led to another and before I knew it I had purchased The Research Institute. It seemed there was hope after all!

Yesterday Sierra came to me and told me that her store was getting in a big Lego shipment and that the Exo Suit was listed on the manifest. The hunt was on! I wasn’t taking any chances on this one. We arrived at the store at opening but alas they had not had a chance to unpack the shipment. We decided not to hover and wandered around the mall. Before we knew it Sierra received a text from Sean, back at the store, that he had found the sets and they were waiting for us.

Woooooo hooooo

Seriously I felt like I had just won the lottery. I’m pretty sure buying Lego shouldn’t engender this kind of emotional response in an adult. But that is my reality.

~ xxsjc

How far have you gone to score that hard to find set?
What set did you miss that you still regret?

My apologies for not having an image that is more appropriate. But life is moving pretty fast right now. Hopefully I will be more on point in future posts. 

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.

Lemonade from Lemons

I realize I used this photo recently, but I felt it deserved its own post since it has an interesting back story.

In an effort to add a new twist to my photography and set ups I have been making my own accessories. I was inspired by the documentary Marwencol as well as Krash_Override, an Instagram friend.

Lets just say that I have a few things to learn about making accessories for my Lego friends. First is the scale. It is remarkably hard to get the items to scale as well as sized so my little friends are able to hold them comfortably. Second, since my material of choice is metal, the weight and balance point issues are problematic. I guess it never occurred to me that the smallest sword in copper and sterling silver would outweigh a little plastic mini figure.

This particular Chima friend was given a fairly large and weighty double edged sword and found it to be more than he could handle. Not only did it slip out of his grasp, the sheer size toppled him over instantly. As he was teetering on the edge of the rock precipice of our photo shoot, I managed to snap this rather dramatic photograph. Luckily he did not loose control and fall over the edge. I guess it is back to the drawing board for me.

So even though the sword was a bust I did manage to snap one of my favorite photos of the year. The lesson I am trying to impart here is don’t immediately assume every mistake is a failure. Because some where in that failure is a success, sometimes you just have to change your point of view.

How do you feel about the Chima line of mini figures?

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.

One World

I admire¬†+Me2¬†and his grand adventure of friends. To bring together people from several continents and many countries who’s only link to each other is a mutual love of Lego (and a sense of the absurd) is a beautiful thing. If only the rest of the world would get on board and join the fun.

I love the Instagram toy community that I am an active member of. It has shown me in so many ways that we are one world. We have so much in common beyond just having mother’s and father’s. Maybe we can counteract the fear and suspicion that seems to be taking over our planet by making friends across the globe. Each connection makes us stronger and less fearful of our differences.

In lieu of making friends and connections I guess we can always rely on a good alien invasion to bring us together.

~ xxsjc

Did you have a chance to catch up on the blog and see all the great group shots?
What super hero do you want to save us when the aliens come?

Checking In

I for one have not been lost these past few days, I was merely exploring a different rabbit hole. I am back and caught up on our current adventure. The photos by +Me2 have been incredible and I am excited to see even more as our adventure continues.

Pirate treasure, aliens in hot pursuit, mystical Sjaman and of course our wonderful traveling companions; have all made this a trip of a life time. But how will it all end??

~ xxsjc

Have you been enjoying the quest?
How would you like to see it end?
What images should we ask Me2 to take for us?


Image by +Me2