Reading Me2’s latest post about location as one of the key elements of his photography got me thinking about the name of this group ”Stuck in plastic” and the close connection our work has to the Lego brick. Lego has a special place among my toys and especially in my still life photography.
By now you have heard about the conflict between artist Ai Weiwei and the LEGO Group. To summarize Ai asked to purchase from LEGO a bulk order of LEGO bricks for an upcoming exhibition in Australia and the company refused on grounds that they knew the content was for political purposes. Ai then went to Instagram and accused LEGO of artistic censorship. Continue reading Shades of Grey
The other day I wrote about motivation and how to find it (or keep it). One example I used was experimenting with a funky lens, the other was getting new subject matter, like new toys, to photograph.
This past weekend was our local LEGO convention BrickCon. This is the one weekend a year when 20,000+ people try their best to look at hundreds of LEGO models in 12 hours over two days. It is sheer madness! I escaped the chaos this year by working for my local toy store, Math ‘n Stuff, in exchange for store credit as well as a pass that allowed me to gain access to the merchants on Friday and avoid the public hours on the weekend. (Think about that for a minute… I worked for trade to gain access to the other merchants so I could buy LEGO. I told you it was madness!)Continue reading The Future is Now
We have been asked to share our top five mini figures with you. This is a variation on one of those Instagram tags that occasionally circle through the toy photography community. The last time I did this, my choices where not well thought out and I totally muffed it; this time I am hoping for a better result. Instead of sharing my top five mini figures though, I am going to tell you who I would want to be stranded on a desert island with.
I know its a small distinction, but a crucial one. When you have all the collectable mini figures, classic space, TMNT, Ninjago, Star Wars, Middle Earth, Chima, Friends, Galaxy Squad, DC/Marvel, plus a fair amount of customs to choose from….the difficulty of narrowing it down to only five mini figures becomes a daunting task at best. So I am going to narrow my choices down to the five figures I would want to be stuck on a desert island with. Of course I am assuming I will still have a camera, fresh batteries, more than a few large SD cards and maybe a little internet access (a girl can fantasize…right?).
So without further ado, here is who I would pack and why?
Ok maybe he’s not a true mini figure, but I love this guy and he goes on all my photo outings with me. In fact he has his own traveling case separate from everyone else. This might explain why I am currently using Keiko v2 since I lost v1 sometime this spring. This ended up working pretty well since I am in procrastination mode and I am sorting all our LEGO. I was able build him better now that I can actually find all the right parts! Keiko is the ultimate explorer.
2) ClassicWhite Space Explorer
This was an easy choice, ok maybe not that easy. But when I looked at all my Classic Space, MTron, Galaxy Squad and Star Wars mini figures I chose the original, the one that started it all. He can represents all that is good about space exploration in one simple mini figure.
3) Eris (fire suit)
I am pretty sure most people are aware that I have a strange strong affinity for the Chima LEGO line. This is probably because the Chima characters don’t have a lot of pop culture baggage attached to them. Playing with Chima is like photographing in a new universe, anything is possible. Eris, in her fire suit, embodies all that is good about the Chima line: a strong character, beautifully designed and fun to photograph.
4) Swamp Monster
This is one of the first mini figures I purchased and he is still a favorite. (I am pretty sure I just outed myself as a newbie since this set came out in 2012). The Swamp Monster represents the perennial outsider questing for acceptance and love. Because he is at home in both water and on land, He is fun to photograph in any situation.
OMG. I have a style. A Brick Sailboat photographic style. It wasn’t always there, I guess parts of it were, but now I see it clear as day. I see it in most of my shots. Consequently, my style is absent from every shot I decide NOT to share. Hundreds of discarded shots sent to the digital trash can. Poor things. All lacking that special something I want to see in my finished work.
Style doesn’t come easy, or quick. I didn’t really find mine until around shared-pic #400. Once I realized what the pictures of Brick Sailboat were all about, it has become so much easier to get the shots I want. When I’m having a frustrating day shooting, I take a moment and remember my style. It gets me back on track. People often ask what kind of camera I use. What they’re really asking about is the list below – what makes a Brick Sailboat shot!
The Brick Sailboat style (for now anyway):
I’ve got to get the focus right. Since I shoot primarily outdoors, this almost always involves natural light. More recently I’ve started using DIY reflectors to bounce the natural light into the faces of the figures (avoiding the dreaded sunline!).
I like to get in close…really close. Fire up that macro setting and let her rip.
I often shoot from below the subject (this sometimes involves building sets on stilts and/or digging a hole in the ground for my camera).
The background matters…a lot. Take pictures in wild places.
Stay candid. This is the most important. I want my minifigures to look like they would be having an adventure, even if I wasn’t there to photograph them. That means they rarely look directly into the camera. A lot of times there are figures in the background doing rather boring stuff – walking, checking their phone, doing what they do. I regularly crop parts of figures out of the frame. Turn heads, move arms & hands, make it look natural-ish.
Stick to the story. My pictures are connected by story. Not all pictures further the plot, but when they need to – they need to. Could the picture tell a story without a caption?
I can’t get comfortable in my style. Study others. Try to figure out what makes their shots unique. Experiment.
So, there you have it, the seven ingredients that make up my own personal style. I’m sure my list will grow as I continue to take pictures and study all of the great toy photographers here on SiP and beyond. What’s on your list? What makes your photos tick? What makes up your personal style?