Recently the Instagram toy curatorial site Toys4Life has been running a challenge, and not your typical challenge either. This challenge has no winners or losers, it is more of an opportunity to acknowledge the people on Instagram that are part of your IG Family; people you admire and appreciate. I generally don’t participate in challenges, I like to do my own thing, but honestly I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to throw some Instagram love around.

Because I tend to put my own spin on just about everything, I have been taking this challenge as an opportunity to dedicate my photos to people who inspire me and who influence me.  The more I think about who I want to call out and acknowledge, the more I realize how much my work is intwined, informed and influenced by these same people.

I know I would be lying to myself if I thought my work was completely original. I think Mark Twain said it best when he said:

“There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the ages.” ` Mark Twain’s Own Autobiography: The Chapters from the North American Review.

So like any good artist I take the elements before me and create new combinations that reflect my own vision. When I look at my images I can see my friends who have influenced and inspired me reflected back, much like a kaleidoscope.

When I look at any of my images with classic LEGO Space men I think of my friend @queso74 who inspired me to try my hand with these guys even though I have no history with them. Whenever I take a dinosaur picture I think of my good friend @Dinoczars and our mutual buddy @papajov who not only gave me my first “real” dinosaur, but inspire me to look beyond LEGO. Whenever I lie out on the ground to get the right angle on a mini figure I hear @x_captain_kaos_x extolling me to go the extra mile to get the best shot; to get on the ground, to get dirty; basically to do whatever it takes. Whenever I am at the beach and digging myself into the sand to get below the horizon line I think of my friend @bricksailboat who shares my love of the beach and taught me to do this.

The important people in my IG family have also influenced me in what I choose NOT to photograph. Even though my collection of Ningajo rivals my Chima collection, I rarely photograph it because I respect @bricksailboat and his work. I also choose not to photograph storm troopers or pretty much anything in the Star Wars universe because it seems like a well represented area of inquiry by just about everyone I know. I will probably never do a series of mini figure portraits (me2 has that covered) and I will probably never create photographs with dramatic lighting (this seems to be well represented by Avanaut’s consistent style).

I mention all this because I think it is important to know who you are, where you come from, who your influences are (both near and far) and acknowledge all of this to yourself. I know that once you can do this, be honest with yourself, then you will be stronger going forward as an artist. You will be strong in the knowledge of who you are and that your work is your own.

I have a few more days of this challenge and a few more people I want to acknowledge.

Did I mention how much I love this challenge?

~ xxSJC

Queen Anne's Lace

Queen Anne’s Lace

Who are your Instagram influences? Who inspires you photographically? Can you see their work within your own?