Why I can’t do product photography?

I’ll be honest and say it the way it is: I’m totally bored with my subject.  I came up with the idea that if I wrote a review, maybe I would see other opportunities with my subject. So I ask Shelly if I could do a set-review and she responded:

-I think I saw a pig fly.

I laughed and asked her to give me some ideas for a set that I could review. The very next day she sent me a few suggestions.

[Thank you Shelly you’re totally the best.]

Filled with my idea

Filled with this grand idea, I went to the store and bought one of the suggested sets. Even though, by this time I was already hesitating. I know that I don’t really like the yellow color that most (Lego) figures come in. But in the end I went for it. I told myself, I’ll probably get over that…

This is such a great idea.

Back at home, when I was setting the pieces together, I realized this isn’t me at all. I don’t think I’ll be able to do this, I just don’t see myself as a product photographer.

I don’t like props, and reviewing a set means I should show all the props. A good review will give other photographers ideas for what they can do with this set. In that context, my images ought to portray the set as it is, as well as give photographers ideas on how they can use the different figures beyond the original set. It should also show how the figures can relate to one another or how they can use the props. To be honest, I think I’m really terrible at this. I mean, I know that I can probable portray these figures, but they don’t belong in my setting. The figures and the set are so cute and happy. This set has nothing to do with my world of solitude. I prefer toys that are indifferent in their expression. These figures aren’t. I prefer toys that are ambiguous. What would I do with these happy figures?

I didn’t give up

Now you’re probably thinking that I put the box on a shelf and mailed Shelly saying:

-This was a bad idea, sorry I led you on… but this isn’t me.

But no, I didn’t do that at all. I took all the figures and all the pieces and the props and went out to create some photographs. Eventually I had to surrender, I wasn’t able to get any ideas. My  hypotheses became all true: I’m no product photographer. I’m a photographer that works with the light, and in some extent my photography is about the light. But it’s also about my inner questions about why I can’t fit in, my search to belong, to be understood, to be loved.

If I were to review this set it would become a way to to sell the idea of working in backlight. That is the only product I can sell. I would fill these lovely cute figures with an aura of my search for a place where I can belong. And that isn’t the idea with a set review at all.

I’m no product photographer

So thank you once again Shelly for giving me an opportunity to get some insights about my own photography, and why I do this. I’ll leave the reviews to someone else. Next time I’ll ask you to send me some ideas of what I should be looking for in the toy-store. I’ll be listening because I know you’ll give me some great hints and through them I’ll be able to see myself and my own work in a better light.

Thanks you!



  1. Reiterlied

    Kristina, I don’t think a review made by a toy photographer should necessarily follow the classic schema of the usual toy reviews. I mean there is no need to show all the props, figures or whatever is included in the set. If I want to read a full review of a LEGO set to have an idea of all the props it includes, I would rather go to some toy reviewers’ blog because it’s what they are really good at. (Actually, I would go on Youtube because videos are just better than photos as a medium for reviews).

    I think the best reason for toy photographers to do reviews is to show what inspires them in a toy, even if that’s a small element of a larger set. I’m saying that because right now I’m in a similar situation. This week I built a set I bought recently. It’s the first major LEGO set I’ve built in almost a year. I love the set, enjoyed the build and find it extremely inspiring as a LEGO enthusiast, but it doesn’t necessarily translate into being photographically inspiring. I really want to take photos, but I really have troubles finding which element can match my photographic vision. I could take some random pictures but then it wouldn’t feel like me and look like some random (and boring) product review.

  2. Hey great post. But perhaps it’s just that at that time you were unable to think that way? Personally, I hate those times when I’m presented with stuff and expected to be instantly creative. I know I have times when ideas spill, but usually they come from an idea, followed by the “Oh, I could…” mentality.
    Creativity is like breathing; some times we inhale, other times we exhale.

    • kalexanderson

      I could be a matter of creativity, and in one way it is. But it is also a matter of standing behind what I do and what I share and why. I don’t like sharing images that I do just because I can, I want to share images in a context or a setting that is mine by choise. And that is another side of creativity.

  3. I think it’s great that you tried something new, even if it didn’t work out. I always like to tell myself that everything is a learning experience, so no effort is truly wasted.

    But I smiled when I read your comment about the figures being so “cute and happy”. It made me think of my own photos and how I gravitate to only the cute and happy minifigs as my subjects. It’s like minifigures don’t have a care in the world, so they are always happy and worry-free.

    I always love your photos Kristina. I’m looking forward to seeing more of your Leia photos (I’m not bored with your subject at all).


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