I have before me 15 photo books from our 2nd annual Best of Photography book exchange. Each one is a photographic labour of love; each one is a testament to the talent and variety of photographers in our community.

If you’re not familiar with our annual 12 Best Photos Book Exchange, it’s a project were each photographer curates their 12 best (or favorite) images from the past year into a small printed photo book that is exchanged with fellow participants. While this exercise is labour intensive, not cheap, and lets face it, poorly timed with end of the year festivities, it’s always fun and rewarding.

This year it took until March to receive all the books, but it was well worth the wait. I received books from Sweden, the United Kingdom, Germany, Belgium, France, Turkey, Spain and The United States. To have seven countries represented by 15 books spotlights what an international community we are. The goal of this challenge is to share our love of toys and LEGO, help us to be better photographers and to foster friendships across the globe. With nearly double the participants as last year, I consider this project a huge success.

Photo books by Lizzie Standing and Júlia Vazquez both showcased their amazing 365 projects. Well done ladies! The photo books by Mister Bricks and Pinar Alsaç illustrated how they shared their love of toys with their family; Mister Bricks with his daughter and Pinar with her father. Reiterlied and Ballou34 both were kind enough to share their artistic journeys; it was wonderful to  read about their photographic milestones as they each pursued their love of photography and toys. The books created by David Rasmusson, Doug Gary and James Garcia are each a testament to the whimsy that is toy photography. I can tell that all three carry their toys with them all the time and are not afraid to take photos whenever the inspiration hits. All of these books are proof of the power that our toys and photography have over us.

I have a special fondness for the books created by HerrSM, Leila Chieko, Coney Dogg, Kristina Alexanderson, Mike Stimpson and Me2. Since I know each of these photographers personally it was fun to see how each of my friends approached this project. In each of these books I can see my friends reflected: their personalities, their brilliance, their sense of humor, their creativity. HerrSM’s amazing growth as a photographer could be seen in his book, Leila and Cindy’s creative twofer book showcased their unique and often humous view of the world, Kristina’s book is a beautiful homage to cat woman,  it was awesome to see Mike’s robot series get a much deserved outing and of course it was nice to see Me2’s unique take on travel photography and portraits gathered in one place.

Each and every one of the books I received was clearly a photographic labour of love.

The world is a strange place; the internet brings us closer together while other forces work hard to drive us apart. I count myself blessed to be a part of this amazing community of people brought together by our toys and by our mutual love of photography. A huge thank you to this group of 15 photographers willing to share themselves and their photography with me and my fellow stuck in Plastic members who are each, in our own way, stuck in plastic.

My personal hope is that as the year unfolds and you continue to explore toys and photography, that you will remember what a special community you belong to. A community of photographers willing to reach beyond borders to make connections and friendships across social media and in a few cases, in real life.  Also I hope you will be thinking about which images you want to include in your 2016 book because I’m sure we will be hosting another exchange at years end.

Until then, stay safe and may your next toy photograph be your favorite.

~ xxSJC

15 toy photography books in a short stack with four classic lego spacemen.

My friends have enjoyed exploring these mini worlds as much as I have! Thank you again to everyone who participated!