By every measure possible, the #SeattleToyPhotoSafari was a success; thirty toy photographers, four days, one beautiful city and hundreds of toy photographs were taken. As one of the hosts of the weekend, it was everything I could have dreamed of, and so much more.
To help you appreciate how much fun these events are, I’ve asked several of the attendees to write about their experiences. I had the honor of interviewing many of the participants during our time together and they were often far more successful in relating the appeal of these events than I could ever be. While we wait for these posts to come in (I think its safe to say we all need a couple of days to recover), I thought I would set the stage for the event with a run down of what transpired. (@BrickandMordor created this handy Google Docs map if you want to see how far and where we traveled.)
Friday afternoon’s photo shoot at Magnuson Park was set-up for those photographers who arrived in town early; there were attendees drifting into the park all afternoon. @Dinoczars (my co-host) and I took turns bringing people back to the hidden glen we found ourselves in. While the light was harsher than anyone would have liked, and the swamps had dried up, we all made the best of the situation; already the energy was high and the toy swapping had begun.
That evening everyone converged on my house, were we made short work of six Windy City Pies. It was a beautiful evening and the crowd drifted to the patio where a fire was started in the fire pit. The video crew soon arrived and they set up and began the process of documenting the weekend. The three boxes of LEGO and the case of Disney collectible mini figures that were shipped from Billund, DK were unpacked and set out for everyone to drool over. We put names in a hat and divided up the spoils as equitably as possible. Since Saturday morning had an early start time, I kicked the last stragglers out of my house around 11:00pm so I could tidy up and get ready for the next day.
The weather forecast had been vacillating all week between 80% and 30% chance of rain for our Saturday adventure; when I woke up to the sound of rain I knew it had landed on the high side. After a short ferry ride across Puget Sound, we soon arrived at Fort Casey and were treated to a dark and rainy sight. It was hard not to get discouraged, but I think we were all riding the high of simply being together, so we made the best of it. We headed to the actual fort, found dry nooks and crannies and set to work. I was never more impressed with a group of photographers than that day. No one complained, no one grumbled, everyone simply set about capturing amazing photos given the circumstances. Even though Unikitty was crying over the weather, photographically it was amazing!
By the time we left Fort Casey the weather was improving; Deception Pass had a light grey overcast which was perfect for outdoor photography. We hung out on the appropriately named Pass Island, climbing on rocks, tucking toys into tall grass and moss and starting to find our groove as a group. By the time we headed off to Mount Erie, you could tell that the weekend was going to be a success, especially with improving weather.
Mount Erie did not disappoint; it’s hard to not love this location. High above Deception Pass and Whidbey Island, you have unobstructed views back towards Seattle. This picturesque location offers stunning views, deep pine needle forest floors, granite rocks and moss – everything the discerning outdoor toy photographer could ask for.
A tradition born out of the Las Vegas meet-up is the toy swap. Everyone who wanted to participate, brought a wrapped toy to the blind ‘white elephant’ style gift exchange. We drew numbers, picked a toy and hoped it wasn’t ‘stolen’ by anyone else who’s number came later in the process. Kristina’s boys sat int he back of my van watching the proceedings with evident glee on their faces. It was a fun and silly way to end a full day of toy photography. Who doesn’t appreciate a few new toys to photograph (except maybe @Kalexanderson 🙂 )?
On our way back to Seattle we stopped at BoboKhan, a locally owned toy store. Les, one of the owners, was kind enough to let us arrive after hours so we could shop for new toys. This is also a tradition leaned from our Las Vegas experience, every toy safari (at least the US version) needs to include a little toy shopping. A result of shopping at BoboKhan was that the owner purchased all of @wikitoybox’s #mylillshietz and a few prints from @papajov to resell. An unexpected bonus for sure!
As is typical of a Seattle spring, the weather quickly changed and we had a stunningly sunny Sunday. We gathered at the base of the Space Needle on the grounds of the Seattle Center (the home of the 1962 World’s Fair). Some photographers headed over to the Experience Music Project to take advantage of the big pink reflective wall and views of the Space Needle. Eventually we all ended up at this amazing water feature tucked into one of the many walk ways on the grounds. If you see a lot of water images, you’ll know why. It was fun to share this magical spot with so many wonderful toy photographers. Unikitty was so happy!!
All too soon we broke for lunch and headed to the Armory on the grounds for a bite to eat. After lunch we headed to the new home of KEXP to find a quiet spot for our print exchange. Fourteen photographers brought copies of one of their images that was then shared with the others. Those who participated, left with a lasting, and unique, memento of the event. Since we were at KEXP, a few music lovers decided to take an impromptu tour of the station while the others headed to our next location.
Soon we were all united again at our final location, the Olympic Sculpture Park. The SAM sculpture garden has much to offer: amazing art work, views back towards the city as well as the beach and views of Puget Sound. We all spent a wonderful afternoon photographing toys, swapping more stories, joking and generally enjoying the beautiful afternoon.
All too soon the first of the goodbyes began. Not everyone was able to stay through Monday as we all have ‘real’ lives. But with so many great memories made, such good fun had, and new friendships made, we all knew it wouldn’t be long before we would see each other again. 🙂
For those staying through Monday, we had one last photographic adventure planned to Snoqualmie Falls. The weather cooperated with a perfect cloud cover of that endless grey that Seattle is known for. While it may not be beautiful, it certainly presents wonderful photographic conditions. The lower falls area presents a uniquely beautiful setting that incorporates moss, ferns, water and sandy beach – plenty of options for the most discriminating photographer. I knew I had chosen well when so many in our reduced group said it was their favorite location.
Since I’d been running my friends pretty hard the two previous days I wanted everyone to have some down time before we headed to the baseball game at 7:10 pm. So after a relaxing afternoon, sixteen toy photographers headed to Safeco field to watch the Oakland A’s (the team favored by @krash_override and @lizzybell beat the home team, the Seattle Mariners). Fly balls were whizzing over our heads, too many garlic fries were consumed and those who stayed late were witness to a near by fan fight and a close call with a fly ball. High adventure indeed!
I know that this was an incredibly successful event because I saw the silly smiles on my friends faces, even the more stoic ones. I was witness to lasting friendships being created, I saw toys being freely swapped, war stories were exchanged and promises of “see you next time” were heard. In fact we’re already planning the 2017 US meet-up!
If you’ve made it this far, I want to thank you! As I mentioned before you will be reading about this event from several different view points in the coming weeks. I want to give our out of town guests, the new photographers, the non-lego photographers and the safari veterans a chance to tell you in their own words about this event and why you should already be thinking about joining us next year.
And now the thank you’s…
A big StuckinPlastic thank you to the following participants of the third StuckinPlastic toy photo safari: @Dinoczars, @cblakely (check out his Flickr feed of the event with plenty of BTS), @fathersfigures, @bear__trap, @krash_override, @lizzybelle9, @wiiman, @carteraug21, @mrs.playwell, @papajov, @wikitoybox, @travelbricks, @coney_dogg, @brickandmordor, @thereeljames23, @tronsoda, @chrispirillo, @camrc_, @intangibledandy @interplanetjanet, @interplanetfoo, @kalexanderson, @greaterbeast, @buttsintheair, @jagsaurus, @samsoosin, @sunnymartini, Riley and Eva. You guys are awesome!
I also want to thank @Coney_dogg and @Krash_override who created our amazing signature figure for this event. You’re both talented and generous people and I’m forever grateful you’re on team #stuckinplastic!
I want to thank my favorite neighbor and co-host @Dinoczars. Even though he was juggling a new baby and family obligations through out the entire planning process, he was always there when I needed him! I couldn’t have done this without you Jon!
I would be remiss if I didn’t thank Luke (@teamknecht) and Justin (@justincarterwilmore) who helped us to document the entire weekend. I’ve been on many adventures with these two video warriors and I’m grateful they both stepped up and donated their time and energy to this project. Stay tuned for the final product coming later this year courtesy of the super talented @brickandmordor. Go team #stuckinplastic!!
And finally a HUGE thank you to the fine folks at The LEGO Group who helped to sponsor this event and donated 30+ sets that were distributed to the attendees. Follow the tags #Seattletoyphotosafari_LEGO and #Seattletoyphotosafari_DisneyCMF to see what becomes of all that LEGO. Personally I saw many photographers who normally don’t shoot LEGO inspired by the possibilities created by these new toys. I can’t wait to see what happens!