While the cat’s away, the mice will play

While the cat’s away, the mice will play…hooky!

With Shelly’s away catching up with old friends, meeting new ones, taking photos of LEGO, taking about LEGO, and attending the LEGO House opening, I’ve decided to take a week off from posting. Shhh! Don’t tell her!

While the cat’s away, the mice will play…music!

While I’m here, I’ll just remind you that there’s a music themed challenge happening over at the G+ community.

While the cat’s away, the mice will play…music!
While the cat’s away, the mice will play…music!

Take the power of music and create images with your toys based on music!
Utilize songs and lyrics that inspire you to create.
Recreate your favourite singers and bands.
Take your favourite instrumental piece and interpret in plastic.
Turn your favourite figures into singers and rockers.

Be the maestro and orchestrate your masterpiece!

The image picked as the best of the month will win a special plastic prize and be featured as the community’s banner photo for the following month.

Whilst the G+ monthly challenges are nothing new, and the winner’s photo being featured on the communities’ banner the following month is the norm also, this is the first challenge that there is also a prize on offer. The first of many challenges with prizes on offer!

So what are you waiting for? Join the G+ community and get rocking!

– Brett

If you’ve made through all my blathering and ended up here, you should sign up to our weekly email round up where you’ll get a recap of all the babbling from the week.

And while you’re doing things, you should definitely join our G+ Community where we hold monthly contests with prizes and lots of other cool stuff too.

Review: The LEGO Ninjago Movie 70606 Spinjitzu Training

To celebrate the impending release of The LEGO Ninjago Movie this Friday, I’ve decided that my latest review will be on one of the film’s tie-in sets, 70606 Spinjitzu Training.

At just $9.99 USD, Spinjitzu Training is the most affordable tie-in set, and I found it to be a great entry point for new fans. It’s actually the very first Ninjago set I’ve ever purchased, and after building and photographing it, I can promise you it definitely won’t be the last. I’m eager to get my hands on some of the larger sets once I see the movie.

Welcome to the Dojo

lego-ninjago-movie
The dojo wall is small, but has plenty of great details

Spinjitzu Training comes with two minifigures and four buildable components: A dojo wall, a Garmadon combat dummy (which has a cleverly placed pin at the bottom that allows it to realistically wobble), a dual katana rack, and a spinning wooden training station that, regrettably and confusingly, doesn’t actually spin.

lego-ninjago-movie

This is the kind of set that will really shine when it’s creatively utilized. As a small dojo, it looks great, but each of its buildable components can be used on their own, or combined with other pieces to create new scenarios. As a brand new fan of the Ninjago line, I found this the perfect opportunity to finally put my LEGO Ninjago Movie Collectible Minifigures to good use. Up until now they’ve mostly sat on my shelf without being photographed. I simply wasn’t quite sure what to do with them.

My favorite piece in this set is, by far, the wobbling Garmadon dummy. I just got such a kick out of its simple but ingenious design, and immediately paired it with my Lloyd figure – to great results.

lego-ninjago-movie-lloyd-garmadon
Take that, Dad!

I’m also a huge fan of the dojo wall, which looked fantastic in the background of my test shots. It’s a relatively small corner piece, but an avid collector could easily buy two or even four of these sets and create a great little dojo out of them. Again, I paired it with one of the Collectible Minifigures, this time Master Wu. He felt right at home!

lego-ninjago-movie-master-wu

The Minifigures

If you haven’t picked up any of the LEGO Ninjago Movie Collectible Minifigures yet, don’t worry! This set comes with two of its own. I’m not sure if these particular variations have appeared in other Ninjago sets, but they’re different than their CMF counterparts, which I appreciated.

Kai is missing his messy hair piece from his CMF version, but comes with great faces that make up for it.

I liked the Kai figure best. His red outfit has some snazzy small details, like a dark red diamond pattern on his pants. I love his dual katana holder and attached shoulder pad, which look great from behind. He’s got two faces, and his mask comes in two pieces.

lego-ninjago-zane

The Zane figure looks pretty intimidating, with his glaring blue eyes and black bow and arrow. I foresee photographers having a lot of fun with his black quiver piece. I found his clothing to be a bit of a step down from Kai’s, especially the pants, but I really like the look of his white mask (which also comes in two pieces).

The Verdict

Like last week’s LEGO Star Wars set, I found Spinjitzu Training to be a fun entry-level kit for new fans, or those curious about a property they may be unfamiliar with. The dojo itself offers enough versatility to have some great mileage for photography. You may find yourself limited by the two included minifigures, but all of the pieces are easily paired with anyone from the LEGO Ninjago Movie Collectible Minifigures series. At just $9.99 USD, you’ll definitely get your money’s worth, and more, with this purchase.

Be careful though, because I suspect this will be a set that gets you hooked on the Ninjago line as a whole, and will have you anxious to pick up bigger and more detailed kits in the future!

-James

Have you picked up The LEGO Ninjago Movie 70606 Spinjitzu Training? Have you taken any great pictures with it? Let us know in the comments below.

If you enjoyed this post like this, we invite you to join our G+ community. And don’t forget to subscribe to the blog to get notified when we have a new post ready for you!

My Better Half

Yesterday, my wife Jordan and I celebrated our eleven year anniversary. We started dating the day we met – as teenagers at a birthday party who talked alone for hours, fell asleep holding hands, and told each other we loved each other the next day.

She’s my favorite person on the planet, my better half in every way, and instrumental in each and every photo I take and blog post I write. She’s more than my partner in crime – she’s the unsung hero of my artistic endeavors, of which there have been many over the last eleven years!

lego-super-jordan
Super Jo

She’s been supportive of every artistic itch I’ve had. Over the years I bounced back and forth between music, film, writing, and now photography. With each crazy new idea, she’s been along for the ride.

I’ve mentioned her in my posts a few times. She provided me with makeup brushes to remove dust, she was there for me when I dealt with depression, and she accompanied me to the Art of the Brick exhibit earlier this year. But when it comes to photography and even writing for this blog, she’s been pivotal in ways you’d never notice. While you’ve been looking at my work and reading my words, you’ve actually been spending time with her, too.

Jordan proofs each and every blog post I write.

I make sure to write my posts a few days before they’re scheduled to go out so that she’ll have a chance to sit down and go through them. She reads them out loud, with me sitting nervously next to her on the couch, and fixes every misplaced comma. She recommends synonyms that will spice up my language, and say things like, “I see where you’re going here, but think you’re forgetting this…

She’s the first one to look at my photos.

Whether it’s on my LCD screen immediately after a shot, or on my computer screen after a long editing session, Jordan’s always the first to look at my photos. I tell her most of my ideas before I shoot them, so she knows the basic premise before I turn my computer screen toward her. It’s fun to see her light up when an idea comes to life. It’s also hard when she frowns and says, “I’m not sure about that background,” or, “Why are the minifigure’s hands upside down?”

lego-hangover-jordan
This original Hangover picture only had 1 bottle. Jordan recommended I add more for a better effect.

Jordan even helps me take photos.

Some of my favorite photos couldn’t have been taken without Jordan helping me. I once put the Pig Suit minifigure on a chopstick and asked her to hold it above her head, so that I could get a shot of it against the clouds from the angle I wanted. The picture ultimately didn’t turn out because we were both laughing so hard that the pig kept flailing around and falling off of the chopstick! Like Marco and his family portrait, now every time I look at that minifigure, I smile.

lego-pig-fly
This is the final shot we got, a few days later – her personal favorite photo I’ve taken.

Jordan once saved my camera, a lens, and a minifigure from getting lost at sea! While I was bent down taking a shot at the beach, she quickly pulled me up as a wave came barreling towards me. She then grabbed the minifigure from the sand and managed to catch a lens that was falling out of my pocket.

lego-beach-ocean
This one’s dedicated to her and named after one of her favorite songs, California Dreamin’

Jordan has come up with great photo ideas of her own for me to take. She buys me LEGO sets she thinks will be fun to build or photograph together, and she always goes with me to feel up blind bags when the latest Collectible Minifigure series arrive. She even created a Sig Fig of her own, to accompany mine on his little adventures.

LEGO and photography are a huge part of my life, and it’s amazing to have someone to share it with. I’m proud of the work I’ve done, and it simply wouldn’t be possible without her.

Thanks for always being there, Jordan. I love you.

lego-selfie-jordan

-James

Do you have someone that you share this hobby with? Are they a photographer too, or an unsung hero like Jordan? Share your stories in the comments!

And don’t forget to subscribe to the blog to get notified when we have a new post ready for you, and to join our G+ community.

The Basics – Photographing toys in water

I’ve been taking photos in and around water for as along as I’ve been a photographer. There is something magical about water; the movement, the sound, the reflections. Being in and around water feeds something basic in my soul. Because of this, it’s only natural that water would make it into my toy photography. Some of my favorite toy images have been taken in water.

While water is beautiful to photograph, it’s not easy to work with. It can be unpredictable; water can steal your LEGO and it can leave you soaking wet. But even with these hazards, the final results are often worth it.

I prefer to photograph in the great out doors so when I talk about water I’m referring to rivers, lakes, puddles as well as the Puget Sound. I have found that the edges around any body of water is usually rocky, muddy, sandy or all three. Not exactly an environment that invites getting down on your knees or stomach for your typical toy photos. Over the years I’ve learned a few tricks about working in and around water plus a few tips to make my life easier.

Tips For Water Photography

1) Lego doesn’t float consistently or at all.  If it does float, it will only move away from you as you’re taking photos. I photograph in shallow water like a puddle or build up a base for my subject to rest on. This can be nearby rocks, a bit of wood, a LEGO base plate (although you will have to weight this down) or a water glass. Whatever method you choose make sure you can disguise the object or remove any shadows with Photoshop.

I Will Be a Fisherman (These figures are positioned on a lego plate and then inserted into the water. I used loose gravel to cover the plate because even though the water was moving, you could still see the edges.)

2) If you’re looking for great reflections you will want to get low to the ground and aim across the water. Once you get at this level you can see that the surface of the water acts as a mirror. You can see the reflection and compose for the reflection rather than the subject.

I love how the dark shadows really let that reflection pop! The rocks around me where bright white and acted as a natural reflector.

3) Safety first! I have found that water can be unpredictable and a roque wave or a fast moving stream can soon send your figure on an unexpected adventure. Be careful; you don’t want to leave any friends behind! You will want to be aware if tides are going in or out. Its also good to be aware of how big the waves are and to keep a watchful eye on your figures. A rogue wave can easily whisk your subject out to sea! I will often watch the water for a few minutes to get the feel of the wave action before I put my figures in place.

Man down! Or is that cats down??

4) Water is very reflective and can cast deep shadows so you will need to have a reflector or portable light on hand. By illuminating the shadows you can eliminate hours of post production manipulation. If you’re working in the bright sun, be careful of unwanted hot spots on your figure. Sometimes its easier to move to the shade or wait for better light, than risk an image where the highlights are blown out.

A lego version of the Mouse Guard character Lieam journeys down the sparkling river in his Lego canoe.
This was taken at Magnuson Park while I was kneeling in the mud near the beaver damn.  If only I had known about reflectors when I took this photo! Then maybe we could see the figure better. 🙁

5) Where the right clothing and have protective gear along. The ground is hard and unforgiving. Once I was laying on rocks for so long to get the perfect photo that my entire side was dappled with bruises. So take it from me, bring knee pads, a small foam pad or a jacket you can kneel on. I also wear water proof shoes. You never know when you will be in the water rather than next to the water.

6) Not all water is moving. Sometime the water will be still and create perfect reflection but you want to create the illusion of movement. If this is the case, use a small twig or rock to break the surface of the water and simulate movement.

(On this photo I used a twig to get the water moving. If you’re asking your viewer to suspend their disbelief, you need to show your vehicle ‘moving’.)

7) Don’t be afraid of winter water photos. Photographing in the winter can create some unexpected bonuses. While water freezes in the cold, so does mud. This makes it  much easier to kneel on the ground. If you encounter a frozen pond in the sun, it will add extra sparkle to your photo. I’ve created some of my favorite photos in temperatures that are near or below freezing.

Galadriel (Bokeh on a frozen pond  can create a magical effect!)

8) It’s not always convenient to travel to the woods or a nearby park for water photos. You can create a manmade pool with a shallow dish and have a little pond ready to go at any time. The biggest draw back of this trick is that you will have to resolve the edges by masking. This way you can create the illusion of an outdoor pond. Extra added bonus: let your ‘pond’ freeze in the winter. You can create an instant ice rink, have figures frozen in ice and boats don’t sink!

Celebrating a job well done! (I used a small shallow pan to create this winter hot spot. The rocks are added to disguise the hard edge of the pan.)

9) Experiment with camera angles, and shutter speed. Your camera angle will determine what kind of reflection you can capture. Also by slowing down your shutter speed you can capture beautiful effects. If you have image stabilization on your camera you can drop below 1/60th to arounds 1/30th and capture the movement of the water. Experiment and see how slow you can go and still keep your figures in focus.

(A shutter speed of 1/30th or lower can produce some lovely effects showing water in motion.)

10) Photographing in and around water can be very rewarding. I encourage you to give it a try and have some fun with your toys!

Shelly

Do you have any tips you would like to share about working in and around water? 

And if you’ve made it this far I encourage you to sign up for our weekly email round-up. Or join our G+ Community were we hold monthly contests with prizes for the winner! 

A Busman’s Holiday

I’d never heard of a busman’s holiday before? Nor had I thought I’d ever been on one!

 noun: busman’s holiday

  1. a holiday or form of recreation that involves doing the same thing that one does at work.
    “a fire crew’s Christmas outing turned into a busman’s holiday when their coach caught fire”

While Shelly is away, I thought it would be a good opportunity to take some time off from shooting to take the wheel of the good ship Toy Photographers. I’d been running low on motivation and inspiration and thought this would be the perfect chance to recharge and reenergise. And while I thought I’d relish the break, I found myself doing what I usually do, a busman’s holiday.

Shelly and I share the load of the social media management. We take turns pushing posts out to IG and Facebook. We take the reins of the newsletter on alternate months, editing and sending out the weekly recap.

Just leave the subway a station
You’re on holiday, not vacation
Frenzal Rhomb – Holiday Not Vacation

Admittedly, it was my month to send out the newsletters, and with Shelly away, I only have an extra 3 or 4 social media shares to take care of each week. And, thanks to our wonderful regular contributors here, the posts take care of themselves. But the chance to step back from my creative slump and focus on the admin seemed just the thing I needed to recharge my creativeness. Or so I thought?

a busman's holiday
a busman’s holiday

With my self-imposed break from shooting, I found myself doing what I usually do. I was planning shots, scouting locations and even documenting the sun at different times in our backyard. And whilst I never pressed the shutter button once, I’m pretty sure I took more photos in my mind that I would’ve if I was shooting.

Not picking up the camera made me think more about ideas. So many concepts rattled around in my head. Planning shots that I had no immediate intention of shooting took more elaborate twists. Tales grew from simple ideas.

So, maybe a busman’s holiday was just the ticket I needed to get things back on route again?

– Brett

Have you ever taken some time off? Did you manage to actually take a break? Or did you find yourself doing what you usually do regardless?

If you’ve made through all my blathering and ended up here, you should sign up to our weekly email round up where you’ll get a recap of all the babbling from the week.
And while you’re doing things, you should definitely join our G+ Community where we hold monthly contests with prizes and lots of other cool stuff too.

Review: LEGO Star Wars 75176 Resistance Transport Pod

While Brett is always on hand to review the latest series of Collectible Minifigures, we felt that expanding our reviews to include full sets was in order. We’re also looking forward to premiering some non-LEGO reviews as well for the action figure crowd.

These new reviews will come with a twist! Instead of centering the discussion on things like piece count or the build itself, we’re taking a look at its overall photographic potential. We are toy photographers after all!

“BB-8, meet Rose Tico”

The first review out the gate is the LEGO Star Wars 75176 Resistance Transport Pod, which hit store shelves last week as part of the Star Wars: The Last Jedi Force Friday event. The transport pod is a new vehicle with a unique design, and comes with two minifigures (an updated version of Finn and a new character, Rose Tico) and the fan-favorite droid BB-8.

The Minifigures

The two minifigures alone offer a lot of photo potential. The Finn figure is slightly updated from those released in previous The Force Awakens sets. He comes with two new faces – one smiling and one panicked – which are a welcome change to his two previous stern looks. Both his jacket and pants have slightly updated designs as well and are an overall improvement to the original design.

Rose Tico is a maintenance worker in the Resistance who teams up with Finn during the film. She comes with two faces, and a fantastic new hair piece! It flares out on the sides, has detailed bangs, and a pony tail. From the little I’ve seen of Rose’s character in the new movie, it’s remarkably accurate. She comes wearing a brand new set of heavily detailed coveralls, complete with a shiny belt and plenty of pockets.

This is the sixth set to feature BB-8, and his design remains unchanged. At only $30.00 USD, the Resistance Pod is the cheapest kit featuring the cute little droid. If you still need to add him to your collection, this is your best bet. It’s also the only set currently featuring Rose Tico, who I suspect will become a fan-favorite character come December.

The Vehicle

As I mentioned earlier, the Resistance Transport Pod is a new vehicle, with a design we have yet to see in the Star Wars universe.

It’s not as unique or flashy as some past ships, but has a stocky build and a few great details. The cockpit fits both minifigures, a side panel hides a weapons cache, and there’s a cozy little spot for BB-8 in the back.

BB-8 is cozy (but hidden) in the back, and behind the side panel is a place to store weapons. This set comes with a few guns and 3 little remote charges, a piece I’ve always liked a lot.

I found this a tad troublesome when taking photos, only because it meant I had to find clever ways of including him in my shots. It’s not a dealbreaker by any means, but something to consider if you’re hoping to feature him in your photos.

“BB-8, get back in the ship!”

I additionally struggled shooting the pod itself. To be fair, this is mostly because I have no context for it yet. It looks like it’s an ejected part of a larger vessel (which is alluded to in its name), though it could be some kind of short-range transport that Rose and Finn use on their mission for the Resistance. I think I’ll revisit these photos once I actually see the film, since I’ll know more about its purpose.

I love the 4 clear blue LEGO heads used to resemble the engines, and the piping around it. If you turn the wheel on the back, the gun on the side rotates.

Unlike a lot of other Star Wars ships, the Resistance Transport Pod is asymmetrical. There are a handful of small details on each side, so finding one particular angle to shoot from was a bit tough. I fully expect this will be fun to experiment with on future shoots.

The Verdict

LEGO Star Wars 75176 Resistance Transport Pod
“Punch it!”

So, is the LEGO Star Wars 75176 Resistance Transport Pod worth the purchase? Absolutely!

This is currently the most affordable set in the Star Wars: The Last Jedi sub-theme, and is the only one to feature Rose Tico. So if you’re at all curious about the upcoming film and want to start experimenting with new vehicles and characters, this is a great entry point. The build itself was fun (if you don’t mind stickers, of which there are a lot), and while I don’t have much context for it yet, I enjoyed playing around with the Pod in various photo scenarios.

Overall, this is a promising addition to the ever-expanding line of LEGO Star Wars vehicles. With a new ship, two minifigures, and a BB-8 droid, this set contains plenty of bang for your buck.

Have you picked up the LEGO Star Wars 75176 Resistance Transport Pod yet? What do you think of it? Sound off in the comments below! 

James

If you’ve made it this far I encourage you to sign up for our weekly email round-up. Or join our G+ Community where we hold monthly contests with prizes for the winner!

What came first?

What came first? The chicken or the egg? The lyrics or the music? The setup or the idea?

We all have ideas bubbling away in our heads. Preconceived concepts tag along as we venture out to shoot plastic. Stories are already playing out before our subjects are posed before the lens.

But, sometimes those stories meander off into something new. New ideas come to light with out subject of choice before us. Concepts and notions twist, turn and evolve into another. Often we return with our initial ideas, concepts and tales shelved for another venture; another day.

And all this is cool! This is one of the many things I love about photographing toys. I love thinking up stories. The tales and concepts that emerge excite me. I also relish the twists and turns that inevitably occur when I’m out shooting. And the wonderful surprises of never considered outcomes is one of the greatest thrills of this “lying in dirt focussing in on toys” thing we do.

However…

However, this week I was asked to provide specificity around every proposed image that I been asked to create for a client; specific, precise and exact descriptions of each photo I plan on delivering to client.

But, I can’t even do that for myself?

What came first? The notion or the emotion?

What came first: Lyrics & music, eggs & chickens?
Lyrics & music, eggs & chickens?

If I promised myself every shot I had in mind before I headed off the beach, I’d greatly disappoint myself before the sand on my knees had time to dry. If I delivered what is often a vast deviation from the proposed outcome, I’d be disenchanted as the client. And as I, the client pointed out what was initially offered compared to what was delivered, I’d feel artistically restricted as the consultant not being allowed the opportunity to expand and explore possibilities and stories.

And…

The request for detailed a synopsis of what I’d deliver was daunting. But, there was another aspect to this request to factor in.

My specific descriptions of proposed photo outcomes we to highlight toys that I didn’t have yet. Now this might not sound like another complexity cog in this proposition wheel, but for me it was.

What came first? The preconception or the perception?

When we’re lucky enough to be sent Collectable Minifigures to photograph and review, I always start planning ideas before their arrival. It’s good to plan ahead. It helps to have a schedule for shooting and locations when I’m attempting to get the review uploaded as soon as possible after their arrival.

Yet, when the box arrives and the unpacking begins, the new Minifigures more times than not, demand a photo that was never envisaged before I had them in my hands. Often, my predetermined thoughts of what a particular Minifigure deserves is far from the mark. Repeatedly, new ideas emerge and plans are rewritten in the presence of the new arrivals.

So…

So, with Kristina’s words echoing in my head, I sent off my proposed ideas for the possible outcomes of shooting toys that hadn’t had their chance to tell me their stories. I explained that without the toys to talks to me, it was difficult to grasp what stories they wanted to be told.The twisting, turning nature of how my photos evolve was also explained.

I can only assume that, if a client understands that the toys speak to me, things will work out. 

Or maybe they’ll think I’m a complete nutbag and slowly recoil from the offer, smiling politely, and avoiding any sudden movements or noises!

– Brett

Are your concepts locked in prior to shooting? Do your stories twist and change once your toys are in front of the lens? Have you ever been asked to outline a photo without understanding the subject?

If you enjoy posts like this, we invite you to join our G+ community.
Don’t forget to subscribe to the blog to get notified when we have a new post ready for you.

When in Doubt, Accessorize!

When Shelly discussed her love of shooting in threes, I decided to take a look at my own catalog of images to see if there were similar patterns in my own work. Luckily, one quickly emerged: accessorizing.

Rather than bring together several elements to make a photo work, I sometimes like to add just a single accessory. These small but mighty pieces can carry the story all by themselves.

lego-cavewoman

Whether I’m in the occasional photo funk, or simply lacking concrete ideas, I take comfort in knowing I have this trick up my sleeve! I take out some minifigures, open up my containers of LEGO accessories, and mix and match! How would this figure look holding that accessory? Or if that minifigure was playing with this… Sometimes I get a chuckle out of a particular mashup, and will snap a pic. I won’t change anything else about the minifigure. Just the accessory.

lego-red-riding-hood

Take this shot, for example. The tale of Little Red Riding Hood changes dramatically with just one added accessory. Is she on the hunt for the Big Bad Wolf? Or did they already cross paths, and now she knows better than to enter the forest unprepared?

lego-ultron
Analog vs. Digital

Ultron is a fun minifigure, but I never found the right scenario for him until I paired him with this phone accessory I took from LEGO CMF Series 17. Now it’s a commentary on analog vs. digital, or just a fun shot of an angry Avengers villain being stumped by old technology.

lego-darth-vader
“He’s more machine now than man.”

A simple wind-up key takes this Vader portrait to the next level, and acts as a funny call back to Obi-Wan’s ominous words about him being “more machine than man.”

lego-groot

While I tend to pick accessories that feel out of place with my minifigure of choice, I sometimes find that keeping it simple can yield great results too. Case in point, Groot gazing peacefully at some flowers.

lego-viking
Fearless Warrior?

A simple teddy bear (a go-to favorite for many LEGO photographers) can add a lot to a scene, and make a fearless Viking warrior a lot more relatable.

I could go on, but I think you catch my drift. By playing a little game of mix-and-match, you can come up with some pretty great scenarios. Luckily, LEGO releases new accessories all the time, so there are endless possible pairings.

Needless to say, you don’t have to limit yourself to just one accessory! Adding multiple accessories, or adding more minifigures into the mix, can truly bring a scene to life!

lego-bigfoot
“Oh my god, it’s Bigfoot!”

What’s your favorite accessory/minifigure pairings? Do you stick to one accessory in particular, or find it impossible to pick just one?

James

If you enjoy posts like this, we invite you to join our G+ community.

Don’t forget to subscribe to the blog to get notified when we have a new post ready for you.

Appreciation for Participation

When opportunity knocks, we see a chance to show our appreciation for participation.

So often I’m amazed at how posts link together on the blog. A post about threes is followed by a post about twos. A post about the importance of Challenges precedes a post about the ripple challenge on G+. Most of these connections occur purely by chance, or do they?

Last week Kristina wrote about product photography and how it’s not for her. Shelly wrote about the merits of having a website.

These two posts happened right around the time something else exciting was happening. And they both relate to this exciting news.

Knock! Knock!

Recently, we were contacted by a Senior Content Strategist for a Digital Agency via the blog, with a desire to “include more toy photography within their content plan” for a client.

Opportunity knocks once, let’s reach out and grab it
Together we’ll nab it
We’ll hitchhike, bus or yellow cab it!

Kermit the Frog and Fozzie Bear – Movin’ Right Along

You’ll have to excuse my haziness here, but we had to sign non-disclosure agreement, so I’m being wary as to how much detail I reveal.

Hello?

With this offer, we reached out to friends of the Toy Photographers blog, those who have posted on the blog and those who had won our recent photo competitions.

Appreciation for Participation
Appreciate, don’t anthropophagite!

Whilst Shelly made a completely relevant point that a website is a fantastic place for potential customers and marketing representatives to discover your work, I’d like to point out, so is Toy Photographers!

This is not the first time we’ve been contacted with offers for commercial engagements, and I’m sure it won’t be last.

Whilst we are always flattered when these offers arise, we fully understand that they are often made based on the merits of the blog, which is a collaboration with many of you.

Who’s there?

If we can pass on opportunities for our friends to get a foot in the commercial door, of course we will. Nothing gives us more pleasure than forwarding names as appreciation for participation. As well as growing the Toy Photographers community, we endeavour to expand the opportunities for those within it.

Punch drunk from the punch clock
Opportunity never gonna knock

Rancid – Name

As Kristina found out, product photography might not be everyone’s cup of tea. I get that.

Come in!

Getting recognised for what you do, receiving appreciation for the art you produce, and having the chance to be rewarded for your participation, are wonderful things. It’s not often that these offers arise, but, by being an active participant, your chances to expand your horizons are greatly increased.

This is not a empty attempt to drive traffic our way. We genuinely want to pass on these opportunities to our community. We want to reward those who participate.

Sure, winning some Minifigures in a giveaway is cool. But maybe that’s not the only prize on offer? And yes, writing for the blog is fun. But maybe that’s just beginning of the fun?

– Brett

We ask a lot of folks why. If we’re ever asked why we do that, maybe this is the answer. Participation has the potential to pay off. Maybe this little tale of possible opportunities is the catalyst for you to join in?

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A photo ripple is the perfect tipple

From just a single drop, inspiration radiates outwards in a beautiful ripple.

Dave recently wrote about taking on photography challenges to replenish the creative well when it’s running dry. This month, I was lucky enough to be part of a photo challenge for the first time on G+; a photo ripple.

One person posts a photo, then tags two to post a photo following the theme. Those two then post and tag two more, and so on and so on, resulting in a wonderful ripple of photos radiating out from just one; a casual sequence, a ripple effect.

The epicentre of the ripple, and the brains behind the concept, Wara Zashi, was kind enough to share a little background behind these ripples with me….

We started the first one back in April as a replacement for the end of month event. The monthly events were just G+ events where people could submit figure photos of their liking, as opposed to the weekly event which was topic based. But even before G+ essentially killed off events, the concept was starting to languish, so I wasn’t too happy with it.

I eventually pulled the plug on events and replaced them with ripples (named after the G+ Ripple feature which I really loved).

I figured if each person is named to continue the thread and also has to name two more, it should create a little bit more motivation to participate (classic chain letter). Our community is pretty small and self contained so if the chain grew large enough, it should get to enough people. And I also wanted to see if people would start to request to participate in some manner. 🙂

We did another one for May and June at the end of each month and at that point, people slowly trickled in enough over time and participated that we thought it would be useful to just have the event start at the beginning of the month and run for the whole month. Which is why July is missing since it became an extension of the June event.

ripple: What better reminder for the middle of summer than a little time out at the water enjoying the outdoors, even with the oppressive heatwave. Complete with a nice little floatie.
“What better reminder for the middle of summer than a little time out at the water enjoying the outdoors, even with the oppressive heatwave. Complete with a nice little floatie.” – Wara Zashi

With August, I was definitely looking to expand and see where this can go outside of the community so I thought it could be fun to drag in Shelly to see where she could take it since I know she would have a completely different group of people than our community.

ripple: Rather than send Butterfly Girl to the beach with her floaty, I sent her dancing in the sprinkler with her beloved teddy bear. In the heat, what better way to cool off than some low key fun at home.
“Rather than send Butterfly Girl to the beach with her floaty, I sent her dancing in the sprinkler with her beloved teddy bear. In the heat, what better way to cool off than some low key fun at home.” – Shelly

So far, I’m pretty happy with how it’s working (hopefully the community members/participants are as well). It’s structured, and unstructured, enough that people can do what they want. Ideally I would love to somehow enforce at least a template but people seem to get the general idea of what needs to be done.

ripple: After frolicking under a sprinkler, what better way to cool off than with an icy pole whilst paddling your feet in the cool waters of a lake?
“After frolicking under a sprinkler, what better way to cool off than with an icy pole whilst paddling your feet in the cool waters of a lake?” – Brett

It’s interesting to see, as the ripple grows, how people change it over time. On the toy photography side, it seems to have especially drifted into a chain where you give reasons for recommending and add to the already existing description to explain the chain. The figure side seems to have stuck to the original template a bit more and wants to connect the new post to the previous one through the photo and description.

ripple: Babies - Kiddie Pool
“Well, when sprinklers and ponds aren’t available, and you happen to be quite small, a kiddie pool will due just nicely to beat the summer heat. Look closely and you’ll see ducky peering over the edge.” – Jennifer

I’ve only given vague hints as to how each post is supposed to connect so it’s been interesting to see it evolve.

ripple: And sometimes (once you've grown up a little) you just use a hot day to chat on a cliff, waiting for the high tide to roll in...
“And sometimes (once you’ve grown up a little) you just use a hot day to chat on a cliff, waiting for the high tide to roll in…” – Tobias

At some point, I’ll add in some new concepts, but we’ll see how it goes over time. 🙂

These wonderful ripples are like a reverse game of pass the parcel; with every step, another layer is added. As these ripples radiate throughout communities, stories twist and turn, styles merge and divide. Sometimes the ripples fade, and sometimes they journey into wonderfully, unforeseen places; just like ripples do.

Just like Dave, I find challenges are wonderful source of motivation and inspiration. Being pulled into this ripple and being invited to help it grow was definitely so.

I’ve only included a few shots from the August ripple; it’s still radiating. But, from just these handfuls of shots, you can see how a single drop can produce wonderful results.

-Brett

Thank you Wara Zashi, for sharing your words and for the fantastic ripples you generate.

If you enjoy posts like this, we invite you to join our G+ community.
Don’t forget to subscribe to the blog to get notified when we have a new post ready for you.