Building Debates, a new Lego blog

I will admit that the needs of the Lego community are pretty specific and for most of the general public, full of minutia. So when a new blog like Building Debates comes along (Thank you Julie for alerting us!) that deals with Lego topics we want to share it with you.

Building debates only has two posts to date, Building a  Case for Lego Art and Authentic/Inauthentic Lego or what’s the right way to build?, but both articles deal with issues very near and dear to any Lego fans heart.

I hope you will take a moment to check out this blog and join the discussion. As our Lego community continues to find its voice beyond BrickCon’s, BrickSet, Lego Ideas and of course Instagram, blog’ s like Building Debates will help us break from our niche status and into the mainstream,

I hope you will give it a read.

~ xxsjc

If you checked out this blog, I would be curious to know your thoughts? 

What Else Did I Miss?

I have always felt that a university education is wasted on the young. I went straight to college after graduating from high school and I always felt this was a mistake. So when I picked up a new book last month called 101 Things to Learn in Art School I was intrigued to see what I had missed the first time around. It turns out a lot.

File this under things I have never thought about:

Photography forever altered our compositional sense. 

“The camera with its viewfinder that samples a portion of the world, changed our relationship to the frame. The understanding that the frame is artificial and that the world extends beyond it affects the way we compose images. Painters, such as Degas, allowed the frame to cut into figures and objects, implying that part of the subject lay outside of the view of the image. This was a radical change from the centered image of traditional painting where the space inside the frame was a metaphor for the world. Now, we see the edges of pictures as being vital and compositionally active, not dormant and arbitrary.” ~ 101 Things to Learn in Art School by Kit White

This seems at once so obvious and yet so completely foreign to me. In the photography world you hear so much about the Rule of Thirds, but that is only one approach; and a rather safe one at that.

As I move forward into the new year and continue to practice the art of toy photography, I will be paying more attention to this frame and its relationship to the subject. It is time to move beyond the old standard “rule of thirds” and be a little more daring.

I wonder what else I missed in art school?

~ xxsjc

Resistance is Futile

 

Je Suis Charlie

If being part of this toy photography community has taught me anything, it is that we are all connected. We are one planet, one people with many of the same hopes, dreams, cultural touchstones and pastimes. The reaction to the horror that was yesterdays news was played out in the toy community just like it was everywhere else.

I am proud of my fellow Lego photographers who posted their own poignant responses to Wednesdays tragedy.  TheCourtous created the following image that was reposted by many in the community.

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“Don’t be afraid” by TheCourtous

I have posted before about playing with toys while the world burns around us, but this time I want to make a stand. I am tired of being afraid to say what I think. I don’t want to feel like the terrorists have won because we are the silent majority.

When I see a comment like this:

“Must we bring Islamic State into the lego community? Nice pick and caption but lets keep it politic free please. Or God only knows what would happen.”

I know the answer is a resounding “Yes! If not now, when?”

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Je Suis Charlie by AdultFanofLego

I know the threads that bind us are tenuous, but they are there. If we can find a connection through Instagram and our mutual love of toys I know we can find them over other issues. Now more than ever it is important for us to reach across to our fellow humans (no matter what their beliefs or their religion) and extend the hand of friendship.  Our community is filled with children and young adults; we must show them that there is a better way. A way filled with tolerance, understanding and a willingness to put aside our differences for the sake of the larger community which we all belong, it’s called humanity.

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Je Suis Charlie by MiniFigLife

Personally I don’t care what a persons religious beliefs are, I support everyone’s freedom to say what is on their mind in a respectful way. But I can’t turn over the world I currently inhabit to my kids without something changing. I hope that we can learn from our experiences here within this community and change the world around us, one toy photographer at a time.

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Je Suis Charlie by HLMLego

As we continue to grieve for the families of those who lost their lives on Wednesday, January 7th I hope you will join with me to help strengthen our bonds and raise our voices in protest. Enough is enough.

Thank you for listening.

~ xxsjc

If you have any comments about the Lego communities reaction or your own to these latest tragic events, please share them below. The more we talk, the more bridges we can build. 

Another Kind of Diary

Painting is just another way of keeping a diary. ~ Pablo Picasso

This also applies to me and my photography.

I love to look back at my photos and think about where I took them and who was with me at the time. Each photo is an instant flash back to (mostly) wonderful memories. This past week on G+ I have been sharing the few Lego photos I took while in Iceland last year. Looking at them today takes me immediately back there and I experience the exhilaration over again.

For me photography has always been a form of documentation; be it my emotions, my family or an unusually viewpoint of a particular place. It may not seem like one, but my photography is a visual journal of my day to day life.

I have always travelled with my Lego mini figures and my photographs represent the places I have been. Since this is on a micro scale a specific place may be difficult to identify. As the colors and textures of places differ, it is interesting to see those differences in the final shots. This can be especially obvious when viewed as a group.

I am curious how you view your photography.

What role does it play in your life?
Is it a book in the making?
Is it a documentation of your everyday life?
Is it reaction to world events around you?
I wonder if +Me2 takes his Lego with him when he travels for business?

~ xxsjc

Iceland October 2013

Arches NP, Utah, September 2014

What a difference a year can make. 


Grateful to Big Inc.

I won’t deny it has been a heady week and its time to come crashing back down to earth. But before I get mired down in the day to day of my life I want to take a moment to tell you all how grateful I am for the last week.

The week started with one of those days of a life time on my family road trip, many birthday wishes from my IG family and ended with another fun BrickCon with my photo buddies…it’s been an amazing week by any measure.

Nestled in this already awesome week was lunch with Julie Broburg a Lego representative from the Mothership. Julie’s job (as I understand it) is to act as a liaison to the AFOL community in all it’s forms, including us legographers. I find it amazing that there is a corporation out there that is interested in what their fans are doing and are willing to support, nurture and learn from that community. I know I can be very wary of Big Inc., but it is hard to disparage a company that values it’s fans as much as Lego does.

So thank you Julie for all you do for all the AFOL’s out there. If you get a chance to meet Julie in her travels make sure you go up and say: “Hi” and be sure to introduce yourself as a legographer.

Now I have one more thing to be grateful for: I am grateful to be photographing a great product and being a part of the Lego family in my own small way.

~ xxsjc

Fairy Godmother Julie

ps. I am pretty sure +Me2 had other ideas planned for todays post, but since he got caught up at his own Big Inc, you got me instead. We will pick up with our “Why” series later this week. Cheers!

Legojacker

The Poetry of the Streets

There is

a thrill to walking
the empty city
at dawn,
plastic hidden,
feeling the cold
biting your neck
racing the morning light
as it creeps over the tops
of the buildings.
There is a quiet
that follows
as you slip into
dirty laneways
dripping with
brightly coloured
street art,
and walls
plastered
in the scrawl
of invisible souls.
Choose a spot.
Choose a figure.
Shoot.
Repeat.
At first
you may not see
the poetry
of the streets
alive with toys,
but then it comes,
tiny drifting souls
echoing desperate
cries and laughter
among the everyday debris.
Solitary
back alley visits
shooting
unfeeling plastic
by the gram
to feel
a shared humanity
in a world
turning faceless
by the second.
~ Legojacker

Avanaut

“The First Attempt” by Avanaut

Why do I take photographs of Lego? That is a question that took me by surprise a couple of weeks ago. I realized I had never asked myself that question before. Finding the answer was not easy, and it took a brief conversation with my wife for me to see it.

I am photographing Lego because I am a never-was movie director making a living outside the movie industry. That’s what my wife said, and it pretty much sums it up. See, I always loved movies. Star Wars, obviously, was huge, but many others as well, classics and contemporary. As a kid I made some movies myself with my dad’s Super-8 film camera, but film was expensive and my dad did not allow me to hack the camera’s filmport to produce a widescreen format picture. My movies were not very good; a widescreen wouldn’t have improved them, but still. I would build miniature sets and models to shoot, but the miserable camera could not focus on anything, since it had no macro. I grew up watching great movies and reading all about them. As a teenager I subscribed to Starlog, Cinemagic, and Cinefantastique. Cinefex, Premiere and Empire came along a little later. I’m soaked with that stuff; it’s in my DNA. I sometimes dream in 2.39:1.

That was a long time ago.

When I stumbled into photographing Lego Star Wars in 2009, I quickly connected to those times when I dreamed of making movies. I soon incorporated into the photos many of the cinematic ideas I had toyed with in my youth: widescreen, smoke, aerial particles, snow, blizzards, tight closeups and stories — the short stories that I like to write to go with the photos. I think this through via cinema; even my “Leftovers & Alternatives” album in Flickr is allegoric to a DVD “deleted scenes” extra. Lego is a perfect medium for all this. It’s playful, and there’s so much to choose from. You can have a minifigure on a piece of a coloured paper and still make a strong photo with that; yet there’s everything from a coffee cup to the Death Star to add, if you like.

This soon became a sort of creativity outlet, a free turf to express ideas I could not use in my day job as an illustrator. I see my photographs as single-frame plays I can write, produce, direct and shoot, but with characters and concepts I grew up with. In a way, I’m exploring an unfulfilled career path, but with Lego and present day tools, like the DSLR camera. It’s old but it’s new. It’s perfect!

~ Vesa Lehtimäki

“Breaking in the Tauntaun (Revised & Rejected) by Avanaut
“Last Ship to Rendezvous Point” by Avanaut

 

How a Lego Photo is Born

My son and I were fooling around with lego the other day and looking through his Master Builder Academy books and I came across this mini build for a cool camera. Needless to say, I whipped one up pronto.  It immediately reminded me of Weegee, so I made him too. Now if you’re going to make a Speed Graphic camera and a figure who looks like Weegee out of Lego, then the next logical step is to set up murder scene.
…and that is how a lego photo is born.  
I’m sure this is going to lead somewhere interesting, I hope you will stick around to find out where.  
– xxsjc 

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. 

I’m Fiddling While Rome Burns

As I watch world events unfold in the media I continue to take and edit photographs of toys. This feels a little bit like playing the fiddle while Rome burns.

I have no answers to the many crises that face the world right now…all I know is that it all seems to be building at a rather quick pace. Yes, I do know that our world has always been fraught with a certain about of war and conflict – but right now there seems to be a heightened sense of impending doom. It feels as if we are poised at the edge of something ominous and dangerous.

Is it right to be spending energy taking toy photographs and trying to creating art that makes people smile? Am I turning a blind eye to the elevated levels of human misery on this planet because it is easier?

I have no answers to anything right now. I am not looking for justification to my behavior, but I do wonder if my time could be better spent on a worthier endeavor.

~ xxsjc

Since the toy community spans the globe, do you think about your internet friends who may be in living in danger? 
Does local or world events effect your work?