Lego on a road trip!

A behind the lens look at this year’s San Francisco Toy Safari

It’s been a long time since I had taken a road trip. And, I’m not talking about a casual 2-3 hour drive away from where I live.

This one would take 13 hours and some change, cursing through a couple of states, with a few cups of coffee.

But, we were on a mission. Along with Eric (IG:@intangibledandy), we were heading down to San Francisco for the big toy safari photography meet up. Though it was Eric’s second toy Safari, and my first. We were both in much anticipation to meet everyone and start shooting pics. Continue reading Lego on a road trip!

A Foggy Path

It all started with the word ‘humid.’

In Florida it’s always humid. Go outside with your camera and the lens immediately fogs up. If you want a non-fog filled image quickly you have to wipe the condensation from your lens and hope for the best. Otherwise you wait up to 30 minutes or more until your camera acclimates to the sticky weather.

A couple years ago, I decided I wanted to replicate a fogged camera lens effect indoors. My mom suggested placing something in front of the lens. So really I owe the whole development of this process to her. I had some textured transparency film left over from a college printmaking class and there it was. Continue reading A Foggy Path

Why? by The APhOL

I have to confess that writing this article about “why?” I like to photograph toys was challenging.

I’ve never thought about why I photograph toys, before. I was only following the butterflies in my stomach. But having to write the reason in “black on white”, I would answer that I’m a toy photographer, especially LEGO, because it’s incredibly fun. Continue reading Why? by The APhOL

5 Amazing Things About the San Francisco Toy Photography Safari

The Lead Up

Ok, so I was super nervoucited. (Thanks to a seven year old at my son’s school for teaching me that awesome word!). I’ve been collecting LEGO minifigures and taking pictures of them for almost two years now, and I was vaguely aware of Toy Safaris from mentions in my Instagram and Google+ feeds as well as a few blogs I follow. I had little idea of what to expect, so my mind was spinning with “who’s gonna be there?,” “what will it be like?,” “which toys will I bring?,” “will I be the only dullard using an iPhone 7 and relatively ignorant about photography?,” and “will this event hit my list of the top ten most awkward things I’ve ever done?” (Please don’t ask about that list… trust me.) Continue reading 5 Amazing Things About the San Francisco Toy Photography Safari

Why? The 3 Things I love Most About Lego Photography

Hello Toy Photographers! My name is Kenton Anderson.

Me in lego form.

Since this is my first post on Toy Photographers let me introduce myself. I am a Full-Time Creative Director/Part-Time Photographer living in Salt Lake City, UT. I have been a photographer for about 10 years now and up until recently have mostly done weddings and family photography. Only recently have I discovered Lego Photography and have quickly become obsessed. Continue reading Why? The 3 Things I love Most About Lego Photography

My One Photo that Changed it All

This is the story of the toy photo that set me on my path. From this photo, I never looked back. This, is my one photo that changed it all.

My first post on Toy Photographers was my Why statement. Why I do what I do – photograph, of all things, toys. And in that I touched on my college WWII project.

The longer it’s been since I made that project, the more I realize how defining it has been to my future photos. Continue reading My One Photo that Changed it All

Think big, shoot small?

“To speak out once for all, man only plays when in the full meaning of the word he is man, and he is only completely man when he plays.” (Friedrich Schiller, Letters Upon The Aesthetic Education of Man)

Last year my pictures had to be radically abstract. This year they are all about miniature people. What happened? And am I being inconsistent in my photography?

It’s about pictures

I have always tried to be very clear about one thing: My photography is not ‘about’ the things I photograph – in fact, I could not care less in many instances. It is ‘about’ pictures because I like pictures. This notion is also supposed to help me escape a certain kind criticism: It has been said that photography is the death mask of reality and that it is not able to surpass the reality it depicts. I wanted to go beyond that. I aimed at pictures that are independent of the time and place they show. Continue reading Think big, shoot small?

Life After Instagram…

Where to next? What does life after Instagram look like now that the platform is becoming so hated? What began as a simple, chronologically arranged photo sharing app is now virtually unrecognisable, and people aren’t happy. These days a Facebook algorithm governs the feed, the polaroid inspired square format is no longer binding, and Snapchat’s influence is obvious, to say the least. These moves away from the app’s roots are, unsurprisingly, hardly universally popular among Instagram’s 700-million strong userbase. People hate change, toy photographers not excepted. Recently, as first the algorithm, then stories, then the infamous ‘shadow-ban’ rolled out across Instagram, I’ve seen many posts proclaiming:

“Instagram is going down the drain! I’m moving to Eyeem!” 

“Come to 500px! This new algorithm is terrible!” 

“Google+ is the best social media! No Facebook messing us around over there!”  Continue reading Life After Instagram…

Where Do Toy Photos Belong?

“Never have I found the limits of the photographic potential. Every horizon, upon being reached, reveals another beckoning in the distance. Always, I am on the threshold.”

-W. Eugene Smith


As we struggle with Instagram’s constantly changing algorithm many toy photographers are trying to figure out where in this social media world they belong. Of course I’m going to vote for Google + and the Toy Photographer’s Community, but really our images can fit anywhere that any other photo can. Continue reading Where Do Toy Photos Belong?

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?