Toy Photography Starter Set

Recently The LEGO Group offered a free toy photography starter set with a minimum purchase. Why am I calling it a toy photography starter set? Because this cute little set has everything the budding toy photographer needs to take fun photos while on vacation!

This set resembles an older set (LEGO #7567, The Traveler) and might be confused for a simple update. It wouldn’t be the first time The LEGO Group has updated an older set. But, if you’re a toy photographer, you will see this set for what it really is: a toy photography starter kit! If there was any doubt that the LEGO Group wants to support and encourage our crazy little hobby, this should erase all doubts.

What Makes this a Starter Kit?

What makes this a LEGOraphy starter kit and not a redo of an older set are all the accessories; accessories only a toy photographer would need. This isn’t a cute little mini figure with his bags heading to the airport; this guy is ready for some serious toy photography adventures. This 41 piece set, in the shape of a suitcase, comes with everything you need to take fabulous toy photos. It doesn’t matter if you’re on vacation, or a staycation, you will find plenty to inspire you.

Not only will you receive the usual summer accessories like a suitcase, scuba gear, surfboard, ice cream cone, lounge chair, umbrella, red mug and camera. You will also receive a selfie stick, a tripod and a clear rod for more advanced photos. This clear rod will make those advanced flying shots a breeze!

If there was any doubt this is LEGO’s way of promoting LEGOraphy, the included photo album will surely convince you. This fun little book is filled with 27 photos designed to inspire your own photographic adventures.

Whats for dinner?

One of my favorite details of this set is the use of the classic LEGO face. There is something very sweet and simple about this face that makes it perfect for any situation. Even one that is death defying!

Oh no!!!!!

My only criticism of this set is the hat. I would much rather they have included two different hair styles instead. By including a ‘male’ and ‘female’ hair, the photographer can customize the figure to best represent their own personality.

Now What?

If you happen to be shopping on LEGO.com or your local LEGO store, you may have received one of these free sets with your purchase. If you have an extra set, why not gift it to a friend or child who’s interested in toy photography? Lets take this promotion from LEGO and spread the toy photography love! Who isn’t going to fall in love with this set and want to take this little guy (or gal) out on a summers worth of adventure; both at home and on the road.

Thank you LEGO for helping us to spread the LEGO photography love! Its great to have your support for this fun and exciting hobby!

Shelly

Did you receive a toy photography starter kit? What did you think? 

(A hat tip to community member LizzyBelle9 for pointing this out to me. Even though I have two sets, I hadn’t made the connection!)

I used the plastic ‘wand’ to help me create this snorkeling photo in my pond.

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Packing Pickle

Yep, it’s that time again. The time I spend hours agonising over what to pack, and what not to pack, for a brickstameet, a LEGO photography trek around the streets of Melbourne.

As I’ve mentioned before, I live near the coast. I know the beaches, I know their tides, their cliffs and their light, and I know what works with them. Packing for a trip to the beach is easy. And even if I forget something, there’s only a short drive back home to gather the forgot, or there’s always the next day.

Travelling beyond a short car trip throws up the added quandary of not wanting to leave anything behind. Plus, I’m shooting in a different environment. The urban landscape of Melbourne presents me with another pickle. “Sorry Dewbacks and Tusken Raiders, you won’t be required this time!” Or will they?

Light up the wheels and go for broke
Stomp that pedal with a sniftin’ stroke
Smack that roadblock caught in a pickle
I’m gonna hit that line like old Dick Trickle
Ween – Stroker Ace

If this wasn’t enough

And if this wasn’t enough, I’m heading to Melbourne the day before to be the “official welcoming party” for out international and interstate visitors. That’s one less day to pack, one less day to agonise over choices, one less day to apologise to those who don’t make the cut! 

Double the indecision

So, with less time to pack, plus having to pack for an overnight stay, I also want to subvert the LEGO regime by taking other toys to shoot. That’s doubled my indecision. Is it possible to be twice as indecisive?

Been so long since I been gone
Ziplock bag holding my comb
Beck – Ziplock Bag

By the time this gets published, it’ll be Wednesday morning here, and with only two nights left to pack before I head to Melbourne for the brickstameet, I know damn well I’ll be no closer to finalising my selections than I am right now. Seriously, you’d think after four of these, I’d know what to pack?

brickstameet: Packing Pickles
Packing Pickles

Wish me luck!

– Brett

How do you choose your travel buddies? Does your destination dictate your choices?

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So long San Francisco, you were great!

A couple of months ago, I wrote an article about my motivations to cross an ocean to get to San Francisco for a toy safari. Now that the safari is over, did it fulfill my expectations?

Well…

The weekend was a lot of fun. We laughed, we took pictures in nice places with a lot of talented artists. Shelly summed it up in another article, so I will not write about what we did during those days. Instead, I prefer to talk about what I really liked during this safari.

 

The toy photographers

Almost twenty people attended this toy safari. All of them really talented. There were the ones that I knew from Instagram and the new ones that I discovered a couple of days before the safari (because I looked for them on Instagram when we receive the attendance list).

Except for Maelick that I knew from my past European safaris, it was the first time for me meeting all those people in real life. They were really welcoming and fun. Some were really curious about the French culture and how we called “French fries”, “French bread”, “French kiss”,… in France.

Compared to Europe where most people that have been participating to toy safaris were mainly Lego photographers, here, in the US, I discovered some artists who were playing which bigger action figures. One even brought ninja turtles which were the size of infants (They were soooo big). It was really interesting to see them work with that scale of figures. It’s not always easy for me to work with bigger toy, or at least it requires some time to get used to it. I also watched them do some practical effects for their shots which was great. I may try in the future to throw gravel or sand at my Lego minifigs to see their reaction 😉

 

The collaborations

During this safari, I had the pleasure of participating in several collabs with some great artists.

As Shelly described me in her post, I am always there to help and I have a lot of stuff with me. So if you need anything I may must have it. That way, I was able to help Shelly with a couple of pictures (such as her x-wing picture) and I provided Fathersfigure with some bees for a really funny collaboration .

But it did not stop here.

Maelick that I have known for almost a year now (since Hamburg toy safari) loves to participate in other’s pictures. While you are focusing on taking your own picture, you will see appear a T-rex head on a raptor body inside your viewfinder. That’s sneaky Maelick. It will surprise you, but it’s really fun. Go back to the hashtag  and try to find the appearances of this crazy dinosaur.

Am I being watched?

I also worked with Doughleyg on making a fun scene. Doug is someone that I had been following for some time and I was really looking forward to meeting him. I had such a great moment. At some point during the weekend, I offered to make a collab with him and each of us selected minifigures and we created a very funny scene. Guess which character are Doug’s and which are mine?

Earth Attacks?!

On the second day, I had some trouble finding creative inspiration. Then, I saw Lego_laws crouched on the ground near a hole setting up a scene. Naturally, I went to him to see what he was doing and help if necessary. A couple minutes later, I found myself creating a larger bunny story with him. I added a rabbit character. Then, Krash_Override came by and he suggested the addition of a new one. The love story became much darker and the story went down the rabbit hole.

Down the rabbit hole

Collaborations are really fun. They make for some really great moments shared with other artists.

Next time, I will do even more collaborations.

 

The after-party

During toy safaris, you have the opportunity to make some great connections with people. As I said before, you meet people that you were following (like Shelly, Doug, Leila and Cindy) in my case and you meet new people.

What is great with toy safaris is that the connections do not stop only at the safaris. They continue well after the weekend is other. I have a lot of pleasure meeting again my old pals from the other toy safaris.

And here, even as the weekend was other, Maelick and I stayed a bit longer in San Francisco (we could not travel to the US for just a weekend). We continued the toy safari on our own, together (in downtown San Francisco and even on Alcatraz Island) but we were also welcomed by Wikitoybox (who lives around SF). She took care of us during the next days. She brought us to some of her favorite locations such as the wave organ or fort Baker to take pictures of toys and we spent all diners together. The after-party with Kiwi was really awesome. Thank you very much to Dee and you, Kiwi.

Where the hell is Joker? Did he escape from Alcatraz?
At the wave organ (left) / At Fort Baker (right)

 

The print exchange.

There is one thing from toy safaris, that even my colleagues love (Yes, I said my colleagues). It’s the print exchange. Indeed, all the prints that I receive from my toy photographer friends are hanged in my office next to my desk on what I call my “Wall of friends”. And it pleases me to look at those amazing pictures but also my colleagues who come and see me, sometimes only to discover the new pictures. So if you want to add your art to my wall, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me. I have plenty of space. 😉

State of my “Wall of friends” while writing this article

 

So, will I get back next year to the US for the next American toy safari?

Of course, I will. Or at least, I will do my best to come. It is so much fun, I don’t want to miss it. That is the problem with the toy safaris: when you try it, you can’t resist. I don’t want to be like Brett and to have to follow others IG stories. I want to be the story. So, wherever it is in the US, I will try be there.

By the way, I miss you all.

See you next year, if not before (in Paris for example, for a toy safari, why not…)

~Julien/Ballou34

Me, before the toy safari
Me, during the toy safari

Tackling the six-headed beast

When Shelly first spoke to me about the concept of the Six Image Narrative during one of our regular video hangouts, I thought, “Cool! I can do that!” Little did I know, that just like being asked “Why”, this would prove to be a bigger challenge than I could’ve predicted.

Maybe I put added pressure on myself, but I wanted six images to tell a story.

“Duh! That’s the whole idea Brett!”

I know! But I wanted them to tell a story without any words.

I’d wrestled with this concept before when I embarked on my first joint exhibition with my friend Christoffer (@east_mountain) last year. Could my photos hung on the gallery walls tell a story without accompanying words? Would they need to be explained? Would I need to be Mr Teacher, or would the visitors to the gallery like the colour red?

As if that wasn’t enough, I also wanted to revisit some old shots. The subject of those shots was IG-88, or Iggy. So as well as attempting to tell a tale in six images, without words, I also wanted to rework old photos, AND I chose a subject with inert legs! “Good one Brett!”

So, that being said, how did I tackle Scylla, this six-headed beast? How did I take on the six image narrative challenge?

Revisit 

Shelly’s suggestion to look back through my work for unconscious threads led to finding a series of photos taken back in 2014 revolving around a LEGO IG-88. This series of melancholy and downheartedness was something I’d also liked, but it was also something I’d always wanted to revisit.

And now I had the “boot up the backside” to do it.

Plan

I’m not one to painstakingly plan my photos.

Sure, I have a general idea of what I want to achieve before I venture out, but that’s about it. I have a rough idea of what the photo should be and what story I want it to portray.

Having to plan six photos that told a story, six photos that created a harmonious narrative was far more work than I’d ever put in before. But to craft a narrative that worked it was crucial. I even sketched out my ideas beforehand to see if the six shaped a coherent story; something I seldom do.

Recreate 

Jennifer’s recent post about recreating old images, together with this month’s G+ challenge (with prizes!) inspired by her reworked images, made me want to take this on after finding my inspiration in my old photos.

Revisiting and recreating past photos not only gave me the chance to fix anything irksome that had bugged me all those years, but also the opportunity to strive for what I couldn’t quite reach with my iPhone back then.

Execute

I wish it were as simple as a step-by-step process.

I was more of a circular process. Revisit. Plan. Recreate. Repeat. And not always in that order either. Sometimes the planning led to revisiting, sometimes the recreation lead back to revisiting, which again led me to planning again. Shots were scrapped, leading to holes in the narrative and demanding the plan to be adapted.

The whole process was adaptive and fluid; it had to be. Weather conspired against me. A long weekend was forgotten about and hordes of visitors crowded “my” beach. Imagined shots didn’t pan out and the story had to bend.

Six Image Narrative

Six Image Narrative

Six Image Narrative

Six Image Narrative

Six Image Narrative

Six Image Narrative

Conclusion

Did I enjoy the challenge of telling a tale in six images? Yes. Is this something that I’ll explore in the future? Yes. Did I learn from the experience? YES!

– Brett

Have you battled with Scylla, the six-headed beast? When you have, be sure to enter your six image narrative into our G+ challenge for your chance to be in the running to win the LEGO Batman Battle Pod polybag. If you haven’t, what are you waiting for?

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Is Toy Photography Going Mainstream?

Call me crazy, but I think our little corner of the internet – the fun corner where all the cool kids hang out with their cameras and their toys – is starting to draw some attention from, dare I say it… the “mainstream.”

Over the last few months, I’ve noticed a lot of toy photography come from sources I wasn’t quite expecting. At the risk of tooting our own horn, I suspect that this awesome community, and most importantly the work of the people in it, have something to do with it!

Continue reading Is Toy Photography Going Mainstream?

Breaking up is hard to do

Dear Instagram,

We need to talk. I think it’s time we had a break.

It’s not me, it’s you.

You’ve changed, and I don’t think I can continue in this one-sided, overbearing, controlling relationship anymore.

What happened Instagram? What changed you? Things used to be so good between us. Continue reading Breaking up is hard to do

A Foggy Path

It all started with the word ‘humid.’

In Florida it’s always humid. Go outside with your camera and the lens immediately fogs up. If you want a non-fog filled image quickly you have to wipe the condensation from your lens and hope for the best. Otherwise you wait up to 30 minutes or more until your camera acclimates to the sticky weather.

A couple years ago, I decided I wanted to replicate a fogged camera lens effect indoors. My mom suggested placing something in front of the lens. So really I owe the whole development of this process to her. I had some textured transparency film left over from a college printmaking class and there it was. Continue reading A Foggy Path

Got Dust? Here’s the Secret Weapon…

“You find me at work; excuse the dust on my blouse. I sculpt my marble myself.”

-Camille Claudel

Oh, dust. How I loathe thee.

As I’m sure is the case not only for many toy photographers, but macro photographers as well, dust can be a formidable opponent, and can even ruin otherwise perfect photos. One missed spec on a minifigure’s shoulder runs the risk of distracting the viewer and drawing unwanted attention.

Of course, the level of dust frustration will vary depending on the photographer and on the viewer. For me, it’s often a deal breaker, causing me to either spend an exorbitant amount of time spot-cleaning the dust in Photoshop or Lightroom, or simply scrapping the initial photos and trying the whole setup again. Continue reading Got Dust? Here’s the Secret Weapon…

5 Amazing Things About the San Francisco Toy Photography Safari

The Lead Up

Ok, so I was super nervoucited. (Thanks to a seven year old at my son’s school for teaching me that awesome word!). I’ve been collecting LEGO minifigures and taking pictures of them for almost two years now, and I was vaguely aware of Toy Safaris from mentions in my Instagram and Google+ feeds as well as a few blogs I follow. I had little idea of what to expect, so my mind was spinning with “who’s gonna be there?,” “what will it be like?,” “which toys will I bring?,” “will I be the only dullard using an iPhone 7 and relatively ignorant about photography?,” and “will this event hit my list of the top ten most awkward things I’ve ever done?” (Please don’t ask about that list… trust me.) Continue reading 5 Amazing Things About the San Francisco Toy Photography Safari

The San Francisco Toy Photographers meet-up has come and gone

The San Francisco Toy Photographers meet-up has come and gone. A years worth of planning, organizing and a fair amount of worry, paid off in another epic weekend. There’s no way I can share with you the many moments, both small and large, that bonded this group together. We laughed, we shared toys, we shared equipment and we inspired each other in so many way.  I will do my best to impart a little bit of the magic of our four days together.  Continue reading The San Francisco Toy Photographers meet-up has come and gone