Shooting someone’s shtick

When it comes to shooting someone’s creation or the subject they are known for, the challenge morphs into an exercise of respect. The outcome, after all, is a homage to their shtick.


noun informal
1. a style of performance, etc. associated with a particular person

2. a person’s special talent, interest, or area of activity

Last week I was given a gift and a challenge resulting in a couple of predicaments. I was sent a #krashes_kustom from the recent San Francisco Toy Safari. I was also challenged by Shelly to shoot Chima after using one for my last post.

So, here I was, with a wonderful custom Minifigure and a challenge to shoot a line of Minifigures generally associated with someone else. Would these pickles change the way I worked?

Kustomising the photo

I’ve been following Dennis T and his wonderful creations in his “mad scientist laboratory” for some time now. For someone with the attention span of a goldfish (and the patience to match), and the ever-diminishing eyesight of an aging man, I’m in awe of the diminutive detail he creates. The minuscule masterpieces that are concocted in his workshop are something I’d never be able to replicate.

Shooting someone’s shtick: Private Eye
Private Eye

Being sent one of Dennis’ creations demanded I pay it the awe and respect that it was due; taking a “quick snap” wouldn’t suffice.

Shooting someone’s shtick: Sphagnum P.I.
Sphagnum P.I.

Chima Schema

When I think of Chima as toy photography, I think of two things; my friend @east_mountain’s son’s Isaac’s photos, and Shelly’s photos.

I’ve inherited quite a few Chima over the years from my kids. I never really photographed them. To me, Chima shots were the domain of Shelly. I didn’t want to steal someone else’s thunder. The last thing I’d want is to be accused of ripping off someone’s shtick.

Shooting someone’s shtick: Hatchling Hoodlums
Hatchling Hoodlums

To distance myself from accusations of plagiarism and piracy, I put my own twist on capturing Chima. I used only their heads and put them in their civvies. Maybe this is way to ease myself into shooting Chima in all its glory? Or perhaps it’s more a show of respect; not wanting to simply replicate, but to put my slant on something I admire?

Shooting someone’s shtick: Chima Cantina
Chima Cantina

A homage to their shtick

There’s an added layer of respect when shooting someone’s shtick. Wanting to do them justice adds weight to the photography process. This added weight pushes beyond the normal process; it adds more, in a constructive way. It’s the burden of respect adds another facet to the tribute that’s created; a homage to their shtick.

– Brett

Have you ever attempted to recreate someone else’s style? Has someone’s creation ever found its way before your lens? How do you do justice to someone else’s shtick?

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  1. Brett, I think we all feel a little like you do in this post. Trepidation about stepping on someone else’s territory / schtick in our quest to carve our own path. I know that I stay clear of all things Star Wars because I feel that IP is well trodden, plus it doesn’t speak to me. But I can assure you there is plenty of room in the Chima universe for more participants. The fact that you have put them in their civvies is proof! I don’t think Ive seen anyone else do this! I would love to see this under appreciated line of figures get more love. There are so many great characters and the figures are so beautiful! Come join me!!

    Also I know that it gives Dennis great pleasure to see his figures out in the world having adventures. I say take this little custom and go wild. I think there is a story to tell. Plus if I know Dennis, there will be more on the way to Australia! There is no one more generous than that man! Have fun!

    • brett_wilson

      Agreed. Treading on someone’s toes has always been at the forefront of my thoughts when shooting a subject or style associated with someone else. It used to result in abstinence, but paying homage and doffing one’s cap is a nice way to try something new.
      I do like shooting Chima! Expect to see more of those wonderful creatures, on their days off in their civvies.
      And Dennis’ wonderful creation is bound for many more adventures.

  2. Great post and I completely agree with Shelly here. Your work is so much your own that no matter what figures you use your photos will still be unique. Love what you’ve done with both Chima and Krash figures here. As I mentioned on G+ that kreature looks like he belongs so perfectly in your wooded environment.

    • brett_wilson

      Thanks Jennifer. I agree there will always be a “you-ness” to any shots taken, regardless of the style or subject that they pay homage to. Maybe a “style/subject exchange” could be a fun little challenge to think about?

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