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?

One year, 365 photos: a toy photography project

Every year I try to have some kind of a photography project. That might be 100 themed photos, 52 weeks projects (1 photo a week) or a 365.

A 365 is where you take a photo every day. I did it last year and I woke up on January first and decided to do it all again. This time, a toy photography only project though.

Am I crazy? Probably. Continue reading One year, 365 photos: a toy photography project

What is photography to you?

What is photography? And why am I doing photography?

These are questions I come back to over and over again. When I look it up on wikipedia the definition says that photography is:

as a way of capturing light, to a light sensitive sensor“.

But that answer doesn’t capture what photography is for me.

Continue reading What is photography to you?

New Year’s Revelations

Finding what you didn’t know you were looking for, until you’ve found it.

I’m sure we’ve all been there.

You set out to take a photograph with a clear idea in mind. It’s crystal clear. Just right.

Then, as you start to shoot, you discover something new. Your envisaged photo, albeit still wonderful, is overtaken by this newly discovered purpose. All that you’d hope for when you set out, is still there. A hope. A promise that will one day be honoured. Continue reading New Year’s Revelations

It’s 52 week in a year

I want to share my thoughts about my upcoming photographic projects after reading Shelly’s blog posts about the five words that she is letting define her year 2017 . As always, I’m inspired to do a new project in the beginning of the New Year and this year maybe even more so. I still haven’t decided if I’ll do a 365-project or not.

My first 365-project was completed in 2011 and it was all about toys, I called it CClones. I have done two other 365-projects but they have been all about self-portraits (Ser du mig? (a.k.a. Do you see me?)). Continue reading It’s 52 week in a year

Why? – The Origin story by Ballou34

Have you ever asked yourself why you were doing the things you do, the things that you like, the things that motivate you?

That is the question Shelly asked me. And to be honest, it is not an easy task.

It’s like asking Bruce Wayne why he became Batman or Anakin Skywalker why he became Darth Vader…

Origin stories

What is my origin story?

Maybe let’s start with some information about me. My name is Julien, I am 28 and I work in aeronautics, as an engineer, in France. So nothing directly related to photography or toys, for that matter.

I have been a big fan of Lego since my younger age and I came back to the brick a few years ago, collecting minifigures, mainly from the Star Wars and the Super Heroes universes.

At the same time, I have always enjoyed taking pictures, especially during my trips or during air shows. So I have a lot of pictures of aircraft, architecture and landscapes (some still available on my Flickr account). For me, photography is a way to escape from the daily world and flee all my problems. When I am taking pictures, I am focusing on the moment and nothing else matter.

What about Lego photography?

Well, I had been a follower of several of you for some time before I launched myself and I really enjoyed your pictures. And one day, it clicked. Why not make myself a picture with Lego? I have a camera and I have minifigures.

I started taking pictures at home, in my living room and after posting them online the feedback was so positive, it motivated me to continue. Quickly after my first pictures, I launched my first photo project, the #100_shadows project. With a goal of 100 pictures, it gave me purpose.

#100_Shadows (a small extract)

I also figured out that It could help me improve my technique as a photographer.

One thing you should know about me is that I am a self-taught photographer and I have always learned everything by myself (Photoshop, Lightroom, photography techniques…) and when I find something that motivates me (a project of some sort), I push myself beyond my limits to reach that goal.

So, to improve my Lego pictures, I started taking pictures manually (now I don’t use the Automatic mode of my camera anymore). I bought some gear (tripod, light, reflectors,..) and quickly learned how to use it.

I hate to push to the world pictures that I don’t like. I am very critical over my own work and I have difficulties to upload a picture when I am not a 100% satisfied but seeing the feedback and discussions we can have on social media, I may be too difficult with myself… If I were only listening to myself, you would not see a lot of my pictures. But with those exchanges and reading about other photographer troubles, I am learning a lot. That is something I found really interesting with this community. You can talk about your problems and learn something new everyday.

After learning to create a small studio with lighting, I decided to go further, to harvest the power of the sun and I left the comfort of my house to explore the world and take pictures outside. New challenges, new goals, new experiences.

Why?!

Back to the Why?

Legography, as a project, liberated me. In my daily life, I am someone who is really shy. But, since I started taking pictures of Lego, I don’t mind lying on the ground in the middle of a crowd to get my shot. People are looking at me, people are talking to me, but I don’t mind (a little bit at first…). I have even crossed borders to meet some of you during the last Stuck in Plastic toy Safari. This was such a great moment. I can’t wait to renew the experience.

Legography is also a way to tell story and share emotions. It is often easier for me to transpire my feelings through the medium of photography rather than in person (my shy side, once again). I can create characters and have them evolve in a unique environment. You don’t see the world with the same eyes when you spend so much time on the ground.

Legography, and toy photography in general is a medicine and every one can use it. Its good for you, either as a maker or a follower/watcher. When I make pictures or when I look at your creations, it quickly brings a smile on my face. I have some pictures from our toy safari picture exchange hanging on the wall in my office. When I have a bad day at work, I spend some time looking at them, remembering the good moments and I immediately feel better. And same as HerrSM, I believe that photography helps me not turning insane but he tells it much better than I can, in his own words.

Legography can also be a disease (but a good one – if you can consider a disease can be good) which can change people. I have seen photographers completely opening themselves through toy photography, and I am an example of that. Now, I have also friends and colleagues who carry toys with them and take pictures of them during their trips.

The picture maker

Toy photography being a cure, it is also contagious. “You”, the community, gave me the disease, and since then, I have myself spread it around. Let’s continue the contagion.

~ Julien / Ballou34

PS: Thank you Shelly for this opportunity to write once again for the  blog. It is always a pleasure to write for this wonderful community.

Portrait vs Poor Trait

Is it a poor trait of the LEGO minifigures?

It was noted, as we were deciding which images to include in the next BricksCulture magazine article last Sunday/Monday (a bloody hard task I might add due to the sheer awesomeness of all the submissions), that the majority of the photos submitted were landscape format.

This got me thinking. Continue reading Portrait vs Poor Trait

The ambiguity of stuff

ambiguity

[am-bi-gyoo-i-tee]
noun
doubtfulness or uncertainty of meaning or intention

stuff
[stuhf]
noun
material to be worked upon or to be used in making something

Whilst fleshing out the next BricksCulture article about Star Wars, we touched on the subject of the Stormtroopers and their adoption by the LEGO photography community. These endearing characters have become a favourite amongst us as subject matters. Despite their faces being hidden behind their buckets, a raft of emotions can be portrayed with these much-loved characters. Continue reading The ambiguity of stuff

Forced Perspective?

Um, I think it’s just perspective when you’re lying in the dirt photographing toys?

The forced perspective technique sways our perception with the use of optical illusions to make objects appear larger, smaller, further away, or closer than they actually are. It manipulates perception through the use of scaled objects and the correlation between them and the vantage point of the camera. Continue reading Forced Perspective?

A Reminder To Remember

Baader-Meinhof? I’ve been seeing a lot of that lately?

Your friend tells you about an obscure “mathcore” band they’ve only just discovered.

Later that afternoon, you stumble onto one of their albums as you flick through vinyl at your local record store. Then you see a poster for their upcoming tour through the train window on your way home that evening. Hang on a minute, that’s them playing in that car commercial on TV, too! Continue reading A Reminder To Remember