Now that I have been home for a few days I am only now beginning to process the amazing adventure my daughter and I had traveling across Europe on our way to the #baltictoysafari. When I started planning this trip earlier this year, it always seemed too good to be true. I am pleased to report that it lived up to even my wildest expectations. Now that I have experienced all that I planned it feels like a dream; one that was over all too quick.
It is hard for me to comprehend that I met @east_mountain or @herrk or even more mind blowing… @suppaduppa666. Not only did I meet these Instagram friends that have been a part of my Instagram family for so long but we photographed toys, talked shop and ate meals together.
To meet @iancockayne who I have know through IG for almost three years was nothing short of miraculous; to meet the elusive @kandreson and watch her in action was a pleasure; to meet brand new friends @fubiken and @davirasm for the first time was super fun! David was kind enough to meet my daughter and I in town the following Tuesday for lunch and a quick trip to Mr. Gill, an alternative LEGO store. What a treat!
Even with all this photography, toy nerdy goodness there is a certain amount of regret and more than a few personal lessons learned.
First, one evening plus a full day was not enough time for me. It may be enough time to make a connection but not to establish a friendship. In Las Vegas we had two full days and two 1/2 days (if you stayed for the entire time which many of us did). I left Stockholm knowing I had met and briefly connected with all these amazing photographers, but I don’t feel like I connected with them as I did my friends in the United States. I think that any gathering of toy photographers should not be less than three days. Now that I have participated in two of these grand events I know that it takes time for everyone to get comfortable and true collaboration and friendships to occur.
My second lesson was that there was no down time planned into the festivities. While Boris (and family) took us to an amazing series of interesting sites to peak our photographic interest, we were at them too short of a time to get comfortable and we had no opportunity to revisit them. At the Vegas meet up we went each day to the same place. We moved around the park, but we all had enough time there to familiarize ourselves with this new shooting environment, get comfortable, and overcome our natural tendency to work separately. It would have been lovely to revisit a couple of the places Boris took us too, I guess I will just have to plan a return visit.
Third on my list of personal lessons learned, is that I should not plan on taking any toy photographs. I know that sounds counter intuitive since I am attending a photography meet-up, but I can take photographs anytime. What I can’t do is talk and share with my fellow toy photographers, especially such an interesting multi national group as this one was. When I have a camera in my hand I can only think about getting an interesting shot. Yet I was torn by the need to interact and the desire to shoot photographs in these new interesting locals. What I am left with is a series of photographs each with some imperfection because I wasn’t concentrating well on anything, not the people, not the photography.
My last observation from this event is my personal need for down time. Having unstructured time scheduled in would have left openings for interesting exchanges that happen when people are relaxing, traveling to the next location, grabbing a bite to eat or waiting for the rest of the group to catch up. In my experience it is in these unplanned moments that the true magic happens.
One of the biggest take aways we learned from the Las Vegas meet-up was not addressed at this gathering. It is important to recognize that besides toy photographers, we are also toy collectors. It would have been nice to have some time to talk toy collecting or to visit a toy (or LEGO) store together and shop for toys. You would be surprised what you can learn by looking at toys through the eyes of another collector.
Despite these drawbacks and personal regrets, I had a wonderful experience. I only wish that I had more time, or more accurately, used the time I had better. I can’t undo the past, but I know that when I help plan the next one I will make sure I am better prepared.
I want Boris knows how much I appreciate all the planning and hard work he and Wivika put into this event. It went off flawlessly and was truly a magical experience. We have plans to do this again next year and I want to ensure I learn from this experience so I can help make the next one bigger and better.
Are you interested in joining us next year either in the United States or Europe? If so please let us know so we can include you in our planning.
I would definitely be interested!
Thats Awesome! Are you interested in the US or European meet-up?
A US meet-up would work best for me, I think. Is there anything I can do to help?
We are tentatively scheduling the event for Chicago May 20-23rd. Mark your calendar! I will keep you in the loop and once we start a Kik group for the project I will add you.
Sounds like a great trip and experience! Like any event, there will always be something to change/include/remove etc. for the next time and sounds like you have some great ideas for the next one 🙂
I’d love to join a US Toysafari next time
It really was a great experience! One I will not soon forget. I truly hope that we can continue to grow these events and make them the best possible experience for everyone.
I would love to have you join our next US toy safari. I am starting the planning process this fall and I will keep you all in the loop.
Thanks of your support!
Given the time we had I think we squeezed most every possible minute out of this weekend. More time in all and more down time would´ve definitely been great (back in Hamburg my immune system told me that, haha. Caught a man cold). And yes, these quiet little relaxed moments can tell so much more with lesser words. More of these moments would have added to the experience.
Still I´m so glad I could be there and see the magic happen!
It is always good to learn from experience and I´m absolutely looking forward to more ToySafaris to come, preferring the European ones 😉
Boris told me I sounded ungrateful in this post, but I want you to know I appreciated and enjoyed every moment of our time together. It has been fun reading about the event through the eyes of Kristina, David and Ian. Through the efforts of every single attendee we were able to make lasting memories and quite a few wonderful pictures. We will do this again I promise! And when we do, we will have even more time together to create those magical memories.
How unfortunate I only read about that toy safari a week or two before it happens. If I had been aware of it much sooner I would have registered too.
Now with all those stories about how great it was I just can’t wait to be participate in the next one. If there’s another one in Europe I will definitely be part of it. But I feel so enthusiast when you are reporting on your experience that I feel like I could not miss the next one, even if it happens in North America. (However it will most probably require to take into account more constraints like job and financial constraints)
I am sorry you missed the meet-up in Vaxholm. No matter how much we talk about these meet-ups we invaluable miss someone. I know we will be having a meet-up next spring in North America. I will be announcing our top two date and locations to see what people prefer. I imagine we will start planning the European meet-up this winter. I will have to check with my partners and see what works best for them. Hopefully you can make at least one of them! Shelly