bring ’em or leave ’em?

I’m packing up my circus tent and going on the road.

Yup, I’ll be taking a break from this small corner of the planet and head off to somewhere much more pleasant this time of year. I do not care for winter and if I don’t have to subject myself to all of the nonsense that goes along with it for the duration, I won’t.

some of my relatives down south
some of my relatives down south

So off I go …to somewhere other than here and I’m taking my toys with me. “How fun!” you think, right?

WRONG! It’s terrifying.

To understand what I mean you have to know that I am slightly obsessed with routine and I am a living example of the phrase “a place for everything and everything in it’s place”. My idea of organized may not look like yours. I don’t label, I don’t sort and I don’t categorize but I have a system and it works. That being said, going on vacation quickly turns into an effort to stay that way while the universe conspires against me.

Perhaps you know that feeling when you go to find that one particular figure you need for a photo only to discover it’s not where you thought it was and then you spend the next twenty minutes tearing your toy/camera/studio/bike storage/spare bedroom apart looking for it? Now imagine that happening in a location completely foreign to you, a location that you will occupy for a very finite amount of time.

You don’t want to ruin a day (or several days) of vacation plans because you can’t find your favorite Stormtrooper. No stupid! You have to maintain your composure. You have to carry on. You have to get into that rental car, drive many, many miles away from the last place you saw your favorite Stormtrooper and pretend like it doesn’t bother you . But as you drive further and further away from the hotel you continue to twist your brain and pin down that last precise moment in time you had that Stormtrooper in your hand.

You try desperately to enjoy the sights and sounds around you. You try to pay attention but it’s always there, isn’t it? Needling you, pestering you. That camera you have strapped around your neck seems a little heavier today, doesn’t it? Your backpack is depressingly one Stormtrooper lighter today, isn’t it?

You’ve lost him.” you think to yourself. “You’ll never, ever, ever find another Stormtrooper like himHe was perfect. Articulation, coloration, moulding…everything was PERFECT!” 

He’d been with you for years, through thick and thin.

Through the low times, when any hint of inspiration had vanished, he was there. Through the high times, when you couldn’t snap pictures fast enough, he was there. He was always there and now you’ve betrayed him. By removing him from the safe confines of home and bringing him along on vacation you’ve demonstrated just how inconsiderate you really are.

It’s exactly this type of scenario that keeps me up at night. To lose a figure away from home would be catastrophic! So I’ll pack the necessities for my trip, clothes, toiletries, etc, and then I’ll pack up some figures to take along. I’ll hem and haw about who to take, who to leave behind. I’ll decide that I absolutely cannot take this one, but I have  to take that one. If I misplace him it won’t hurt as much as if I misplaced him! 

You may think I’m slightly off my rocker worrying about what might happen and you’d be right. But I’d wager I’m not alone. I’m sure someone else out there has lost one of their “guys” and felt some sense of remorse, some sense of guilt.

These guys, these plastic figures, these toys… they’re my friends. I’d hate to lose even one of them.

Wish me luck!

Stan on vacation
Stan on vacation






  1. Great post! I completely understand and share your fears. Even though I am organized in my head, I don’t look like someone who is. I can also be very distracted so I often tend to lose or forget stuffs. And I’ve got this problem since childhood. It happened many times when I was a child to forget or lose a toy I brought with me and since I started to carry toys along with me again, it happened a few times. Hopefully until now I’ve always been able to find them back but when I see that over time I take more and more toys in my bag I fear something terrible could happen to them…

    • I’m right there with you. I also fall into the easily distracted category. Especially when I’m taking pictures. I get so wrapped up in trying to nail a shot I might set an accessory down or not notice that my lens cap has fallen out of whatever pocket I’ve absent mindedly jammed it into.
      Guess I should learn to slow down a little.

  2. I can relate! I have a mantra I always say when I am finishing up at a photo site – “Leave no man or lego behind”. This is not as easy as it seems when my subjects and their accessories are so small. It physically pains me when I think I have lost something. Luckily to this day everyone who was formally missing has turned up eventually. Although I still have one blue classic space man who’s temporary “loss” feels like a persistently tooth ache.

    So yes, I wish you all the best in your search for warm weather and for everyones sake, I hope everyone returns home safely.

    • My casualty list is as follows:

      One Stormtrooper overboard during an impromptu shoot.

      One (very expensive) ThreeA figure, same fate as above.

      One Walker. Whereabouts unknown. I assume he’s out…walking?

      One Captain America handgun. Lost in the sand at a beach never to be seen again.

      Losing or breaking things causes me physical anguish.

  3. Josh johnson

    Excellent! So many decisions to be made when going on a trip! What toys to bring, What accessories, Should I really bring this fig, What happens if I lose it……..gaaaaaaaa the list goes on. I feel your pain, good sir!!!!

  4. aliceincleveland

    As I think about your words here I can’t stop two thoughts from racing in my head.

    I feel that it is often breaking from our routines and getting into uncomfortable situations that produces the best work. This isn’t just true in photography but in life in general. Do you ever read articles on how to be successful in your career? Most of them will talk about doing something that makes you uncomfortable. It is through being uncomfortable that we learn.

    I only recently stopped shooting with my phone in favour of a dslr. Needless to say there is a lot of uncomfortableness going on. I finished out my original Alice project on Auto mode and post processing. I took a photography class and recently tried getting the darker exposure I like ‘in camera’ (thanks for the phrase Shelly!) instead of through post processing. Just this past week I attempted to replicate a photography style of another IGer for a collaboration we are working on. It was a great lesson in Aperture Priority mode. The uncomfortableness I’ve been forcing myself into have brought about the best lessons and photos (in my opinion) so far.

    That’s the first thought. The second is that this post, much more than your last, gives a lot of insight into how uncomfortable it must have been for you to move on from your ‘flying’ photos to your current work. And I would say, pushing yourself into that uncomfortableness has yielded some really interesting and fantastic results.

    Tie all this together and you know what?

    I bet we see some really stellar stuff when you get back from being uncomfortable, or, vacation as you call it. 🙂

  5. I know exactly the feeling. The first time I went to Portugal for four months, I only took a handful of figures, and it wasn’t enough. The next time, I brought the whole gang and their accessories, and I put together a great storyline, but I also spent a lot of time worrying about whether I’d lose any. Last year, I found a happy medium, but I was also traveling a lot, doing research, and I didn’t have as much time for photography and storytelling as I’d wanted.

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