A clean bill of wealth

Out with the new, in with the old

Lacking motivation. Inspiration deficient. Stuck in a plastic rut. Brick block.

We’ve all be there.

I too was recently on the precipice of a tumble deep into the inability to initiate.

And what does someone like me do in these times? I clean. Continue reading A clean bill of wealth

Succession session

New kids off the country block

From rant to gallivant.

From Bellbrae to Erskine Falls.

Well, from Bellbrae to Erskine Falls, via Anglesea, Aireys Inlet, Fairhaven, Moggs Creek, Big Hill and Lorne, as we snake our way along the Australian National Heritage listed ‘Great Ocean Road’ that hugs Australia’s south-eastern coastline. Continue reading Succession session

Into The Wild

The weekend of the recent Seattle Toy Safari presented several opportunities for us toy photographers: The chance to meet friends we only really knew by their Instagram handles, to make new friends (and, in turn, swap Instagram usernames), to borrow toys for unexpected and unplanned shots, and more. For me, the meetup also came with a challenge: I had to actually shoot outdoors!

I consider myself primarily an indoor toy photographer. A viewer of my photos will find more shots of superheroes playing with their cats than they would Chima in the wild. Part of that has to do with the fact that Mike, Vesa, and Chris McVeigh were my biggest inspirations for getting into Lego photography, and as you know, they primarily shoot in-studio. While I’m not quite as control-oriented as they are, I do find that my particular sensibilities and ideas as a photographer gravitate toward indoor scenes.

At first I was anxious when looking at the schedule for the Toy Safari, which took us into the heart of Seattle, and to various parks, forts, and nearby waterfalls. Beyond that surface-level nervousness, however, was the excitement to try new things, and venture outside of my own photographic comfort zone.

“If we’re growing, we’re always going to be out of our comfort zone.” – John Maxwell.

As Shelly recently mentioned, approaching photography with “an openness to the possibilities” can lead to some fantastic surprises. Over the weekend, I discovered something about myself I didn’t know: I actually enjoy shooting outside!

Granted, it took me a while to get the hang of things. I’m used to setting up my scenes in a lightbox or near a window, placing my camera on a tripod, and slowing my shutter speed to let in more light. Upon taking my first outdoor photos, I had to immediately mess with the camera settings – taking them away from the numbers I’d found so familiar and “safe” – and do some good ol’ fashioned trial-and-error.

Apart from the technical changes, I also had to examine my own creative process. How could I take my actual ideas and place them in the real world, away from the small living rooms or alien landscapes I’d created on my kitchen table?

This turned out to be a pretty satisfying creative problem to have, as it required me to examine my batch of minifigures differently. Rather than literally creating the scene around the figure, I had to do the opposite, and find a way for the figure to inhabit the natural surroundings I found myself in.

Monkeying Around High Res
I was lucky to find a tree with some branches small enough for Lego hands – letting this monkey enjoy some much-needed time outside!

From there, new ideas had to be forged. What was the minifigure doing? What story was I trying to tell? I didn’t want to simply shoot the figure in the grass or by the ocean – I needed an angle, some kind of hook.

To my surprise, it was extremely fun to dig through my toy box, mix and match accessories, and see what kind of scenarios or stories I could create using a natural environment. I can’t exactly create an ocean at home (not without my wife or landlord getting upset, anyway), so it was fun to gaze upon my minifigs and place them in situations I’d never be able to conjure up while inside the comfort of my own home.

Jawesome High Res
When stuck indoors, this shark minifig was destined to pose for a recreation of Katy Perry’s infamous Left Shark/Right Shark halftime show. Luckily for him, he enjoyed a day at the beach instead!

I’m very happy with the results, and I learned quite a few things over the weekend. Apart from some new technical tricks, I learned more about myself, the nature of my own creative process, and how fun it can be to bring my ideas into a new situation or location. I doubt I’ll soon get used to seeing these outdoor photos on my camera roll, but I’m sure glad they’re there, and I cannot wait to add more of them!

~ James Garcia

Fearless Warrior
When adventuring away from your comfort zone, always make sure to pack some of the things that make you feel safe.

Stuck in another photographers work

In moments when I’m in search for inspiration, I usually spend some time looking through various photo books, websites or just end up on Instagram or Flickr. Often I get stuck in a particular photographers work, and in the best cases, this exercise makes me end up in an imagery world of my own, but sometimes it just becomes an exercise in procrastination. Continue reading Stuck in another photographers work

How the…? What the…?

Somewhere along the line I lost year.

It goes like this. My wife asked what I would like for my birthday (1/6 scale Sideshow Collectibles C-3PO with light up eyes, full articulation and bonus com-link!) when my age came up.

“48! Guess you’re an old man now!” she said jokingly.

“48? I’ll be 47.” I replied. Adding a year to my age . . . HILARIOUS!

“No Honey. You’ll be 48. We’re 47 now.Continue reading How the…? What the…?

#jANTMANuary

Instagram is no stranger to challenges.  Some are organized events that take place once a week/month while others come on like a covert operation with secret instant-messages, planning and coordinated drop times that end up becoming an inside joke to a select few.  These challenges are a key cog in the comradery that makes Instagram a special place for artists. Continue reading #jANTMANuary

Myths

I make pictures to explore the world and in some ways my photographs make me see the world through different eyes. But as I have confessed earlier I can’t make fiction, I can only retell stories I know or have heard of, and that is why the myths are so important in my photography.  Artists have always looked to the myth to find inspiration, and I’m no different. I think the reason is simple; we as humans love stories. In classic literature the myths represent some really great stories; I explore the stories that I love in my still life photography.

One of the myths that I come back to repeatedly is the myth about Icarus. Continue reading Myths

Inspiration – where do you find it?

When I am taking photographs, I don’t know if it is the start of a new project or only a series of pictures. It all depends on different things, like how the idea works out, if and when I get inspired and my ability to stick to the idea. You probably recognize this.

When I’m in this position – looking for inspiration to start, I tend to find myself procrastinating waiting for the tricks that usually get me going and generally inspire me. Even though I believe that Mike is right, the more I photograph the more inspired I get. Continue reading Inspiration – where do you find it?

My Passion

My passion is not LEGO, it may not even be photography, it’s music. I have been pretty clear with friends that if I had to choose between LEGO and music, I would choose music.

Weird, right?

I love my LEGO mini figures, I love my camera and what I can accomplish with it, I love the community that I have created out of all of this. But honestly it doesn’t make me feel the way I do when I listen to music. When I listen to music, to a particular piece or an artist that I truly connect with, it makes me feel alive. I mean truly deeply connected to this earth, to myself, to my emotions, to the human condition, in a way that nothing else does.

When I attend a concert by a band / artist that I am particularly enamored with, it can be a spiritual event. I enjoy being part of a crowd of like minded individuals who are having a shared experience. I love to feel the music course through my body and while I let my brain disconnect from the everyday, I simply exist in the moment.

More often than not I have to hear the music in person, rather than a recording, to truly understand music. Its like I need to see the music before I can really feel it. Maybe this is what ultimately connected me to KEXP and my weird long time (read six years) volunteer position with their video department. When I am videoing a band  I want to somehow translate that intimate experience to the viewer through the shot I am framing . Obviously most of the creative process lies with the editor, but if he doesn’t have good material to work from, how can he do his job?

It is important to have a variety of interests and passions to feed your creativity.  Our passions and our art are all connected. For me the tie that binds all this music, video and toy photography together is one word: emotions. Music is my creative release and inspiration. I want the passion I feel for music to resonate in my photography. I want the viewer to have an emotional response to my work. It is a lofty goal and one I know I fall short of, but it is good to have goals.

I share all of this with you because I want to know what inspires you! I am currently reading Sally Man’s memoir and she mentions that her creative inspiration is long distance horse racing. Maybe it is the opposite, maybe your photography inspires your work?  What ever your passion is, I hope you cherish and nourish it. The world can be a brutal place and its important to have a passion that helps to energize and fuel you going forward.

So what is YOUR passion?

~ xxSJC