Seasonal Infectious Disorder

Confession time; the changing seasons do affect my photography. I will call it a seasonal infectious disorder that is characterized by an irrational exuberance caused by the blossoming of trees, longer days and the sun peaking out from behind the ever present clouds. I didn’t realize how much it affected my toy photography until I was packing toys for a recent outing.

In an earlier blog post, Brett asked: “As the seasons change, do your toy photographs change with them?” I cavalierly thought, sure, of course it does. Who doesn’t take there toys to the beach in the summer and into the snow in the winter?  Ok, a lot of people, including me. Sometimes I find myself on a Hawaiian beach in the winter or high in the mountains of Colorado in the summer where the snow still lingers. On closer inspection it seems that location is not always an indicator of the season.

It’s complicated

Recently I headed out with a couple of friends to one of my favorite locations for a few hours of toy photography fun (Thanks Jon, Wiiman and Cheyanne!) This was my first chance to pack toys for a non-mountain / snow filled adventure and I could feel my creativity pivot in a new direction.

I began choosing figures that spoke to me of spring, new growth, innocence, rebirth, joy and love. Yes, these were the thoughts going through my head as I choose figures including:

  • S4 Geisha Girl who’s cherry blossoms always remind me of spring, rebirth and the fragility of beauty.
  • S6  Minotaur who I love to pair with a sprig of flowers because he reminds me of a book I loved as a child: The Story of Ferdinand
  • S13 Unicorn who I’ve modified with clear wings and sparkles who represents my love of magic.
  • S7 Bunny Rabbit; no spring photo adventure would be complete without at least a few photos of this classic figure.
  • S10 Bumble Bee is another classic figure that fits my mood this time of year.

Of course I also packed a few S12 pigs, a couple of Batman characters, my AT-AT family, a few Mouse Guard figures, the ever present Classic Spacemen, Keiko the robot and a few miscellaneous characters. I felt I had a nice selection to fit my mood and the location. And the choices I made told me that Spring was in the air and I was ready to make a change. There was a frivolity in my choices that has been missing in the last few months.

Sure, I love the white on white of my winter photos. I had a fabulous time exploring this new terrain. But now I’m glad to be moving in new directions. Unfortunately (or fortunatly) I’m behind on my editing and there are still a few snowy white images that would like to be posted. Now that I have a case of Seasonal Infectious Disorder I think I will save these images for the heat of summer. They will make a nice change of pace come August.

Yes, my photography changes as the seasons change, but the answer is more complicated than a simple change of scenery. Now that the weather is warmer I want to tell different stories. I want to tell stories of love, not hardship; stories that feature exploration and high spirits. The stories I want to tell, now that spring is here, will not feature skeletons, wargs or white walkers. I want to revisit the word “seeker” and see where that leads me. I’m sure that boats and reflections will continue to influence my future photos. Over the winter I picked up a few obscure Chima characters that need to discover their stories. I feel energized in a way I haven’t felt in a long time and it feels good.

A Little Challenge

Brett made the observation that in his own photos he couldn’t see the seasons change. So I want to throw out a challenge to my blogging partner to take a moment to see if he can reflect the changing seasons in his photos; no matter what the location. This isn’t one of those serious challenges that demands a blog post in response. This is only an idea to tuck into the back of your head to see what bubbles up. Maybe you will add a few ideas to your to-do shelf.

Thanks Brett for helping me to see that there’s more to the seasons changing than the background. As photographers we make choices in our stories and our characters. These choices can tell a deeper story than the color of the leaves or snow on the ground can reflect. Our stories can be universal in nature or steeped in myth. Changing seasons are part of this story, but not the whole story.

Brett, what say you? Do you accept my challenge?


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  1. Glad to know I won’t be the only one to post winter photos during summer… I still have a ton of photos waiting to be posted online and that were taken in snowy environments, but now I really feel the need to move to spring and summer!

  2. Zao

    Great post Shelly! I think the season do affect my photography as well but not always. Sometimes I need to put my sigfig in a desert (for example, when we did the star wars photo contest) even during the winter. I will probably need to put it in a snowy environment this summer. But usually, I do more pictures with some fake snow when it’s winter and outside pictures when it’s summer. I think it’s a great think because the season give you the inspiration that we need sometimes!

    • Sao, Thank you for your kind words and joining the conversation. 🙂

      I completely understand the need for site specific landscape for certain stories (Hoth, Tatooine). We all do it! I was amazed that it was the stories I wanted to tell that changed, not just the backgrounds. It will be interesting if I make other shift when the weather turns hot, or if I head to the desert.

      Whatever happens I think its good to think about our photographs and the stories we want to tell. 🙂

  3. The unicorn is my favorite fig and an all season warrior of hugs and love and magic to me, spring included.
    It’s funny how the monster series — which I love — just doesn’t speak to me most of the year so much and then BAM it’s on.
    Thanks for this piece. Fun reflections!

    • I agree, the unicorn is an all year long reminder that magic is in the air! While I love the monster series, Ive never been inspired to use them. Maybe I will need to revisit them this fall. Thanks for joining the conversation Doug!! 🙂

  4. brett_wilson

    Oh great! More clutter on my “to do” shelf! I only just photographed two Minifigures that have been sitting on there for almost a year, clearing a space, and now you go and fill it.
    I’ve actually been thinking about this as the summer’s heat abates and the moss again begins to emerge.
    When I’m grabbing Minifigures to come with me in search of moss, my exploration gang has definitely changed. I find myself overlooking my summer friends for those who’ve been waiting patiently for the season to change. Here, summer tones are dry and parched. As autumnal colours appear, the subjects change, and so do the stories being told.
    I used to hate autumn as a season. I was never a fan of deciduous trees. Their changing colours were too cheery for me, and those showy colours would inevitably end with bare, naked trees signifying the approach of winter.
    These feelings have changed, and I think toy photography has something to do with it.
    So, do my photos change with the seasons? Maybe not? Does the subject matter and the stories behind the photos? Yes.
    Can I take this one off my “to do” shelf now? 🙂

  5. Shelley

    I take and post all of my shots on the same day so they are always reflecting the seasons. Being in Melbourne, Australia sometime that means it can be rainy skies in the morning and sunshine in the afternoon! I go by the feel and emotion I have on the day and the story and/or minifigure will usually reflect that. Maybe I need to think a little more about the details and not wing it all the time. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    • Shelley, thank you for joining the conversation. Im pretty sure we all started out winging it. It is the best place to start. At some point I realized there could be more. This blog (and so many other photography blogs) are dedicated to helping our fellow photographers see that their can be so much more. Changing seasons is one way to keep the stories fresh! Thanks again for leaving a comment! Shelly 🙂

  6. Ann

    Dear Shelly,
    Thank you for your interesting post! I really enjoyed your ‘seasonal’ figures’ adventures. 🙂 It was nice to follow this beautiful change of seasons in your shots with the snow white rabbits and the bumblebee girl meeting the Spring. 🙂 As for me, I like to celebrate different seasons in my photography and it looks like an additional theme in the collection. 🙂
    Enjoy your weekend!
    Kind Regards,
    Ann .

    • Ann,
      Thank you for your kind comment on my post. The changing seasons is only one story to tell. For me, it tends to be a big one since I spend so much of my time outside taking photos. But there are so many more stories to tell: personal stories, imaginative stories, universal stories, mythological stories and of course stories from pop-culture. We all love a good story, right?
      I look forward to your stories and the amazing work you do, keep it up my friend!

  7. thereeljames

    Wonderful post, Shelly! I too find myself re-motivated by Spring (though it was a ton of fun to get the chance to shoot in snow for once this past winter). It’s a bit of a new experience for me, since I used to primarily shoot indoors. So the ritual of picking out figures to bring on my weekly walks is a new, but welcome and exciting one.

    I absolutely love the photos you’ve collected here. I’ve really enjoyed seeing your photos change with the seasons, in not just scenery but in story as well. Can’t wait to see what the rest of Spring and then Summer bring!

    • Thank you James for your kind comment. It was easy to tell the stories of winter and spring is always about new birth. I will have to think about the lazy days of summer and what will happen. If only the rain would stop!! Of course I shouldn’t be in a rush for that, puddles are my bread and butter shot! Shelly

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