Whelp. My travel and lodgings are all arranged. I’m registered and inside the system. There’s no way to flake out now, is there?

For me, even casually, photography is a really (much welcomed) lonesome activity. The thought of having to meet up and converse with real people fills me with a deep unease only a lifetime of social rejection could groom someone for.

But these toy safaris are life changing. And I say that not with the zest of an overly enthusiastic salesman but with the assurances of first hand experience.

Fueled by a crushing sense of bewilderment at the Seattle meet put on back in May 2016 where I knew no one and nothing, I’ve been practicing outdoor toy photography in near crazed earnestness ever since. With every zest and zeal. And craziness it was. Even my husband who rarely remarks on anything I do had to say how out of character it all was.

You don’t know me but I am the prissiest piece of shit around. I use sunscreen indoors. I do not like bugs or sunshine or nature. And for the love of all delightfully horrible, man made things, I don’t go “hiking”.

I was shooting simple dioramas in the comfort of my pristine hobby room for the past year. Suddenly after May I’m trampling through tall wild grass. Edging up to bushes of thorns for the perfect angle. There is mud on my boots. Rashes and bug bites on my skin. And really, not enough to show for it.

Outdoor toy photography is hard, man.

You think you can find some pretty flowers or rocks or some junk, plant a figure 1/3rd in front of it, and boom you got a kickass picture? No. Fuck no.

Plants you were counting on are there one week and not the next. Some days you can hike around for hours upon hours and get absolutely nothing. Other times you happen upon the most perfect, miracle of nature spot but that accompanying figure? Oh, it’s sitting in your cool house right next to the camera battery and memory card you need eating all your good snacks.

I learned this all the hard way — sweaty and hungry and lost in the goddamned woods.

Whether you’re actively aware of it or not, though, I think everyone wants to grow. To evolve. You can travel the world seeking renewed perspective, but I’ve personally never found it until I hopped across town at the random invitation of an internet stranger with the promise of pizza (who I now know as Shelly lol) who ever so kindly welcomed me into her home. And instead of axe murdering me, she and all the wonderful toy photographers there opened up a whole new aspect of this hobby for me.

So no matter how shy or uncomfortable or weird or new or experienced you may be, come to Oregon. We have toys and pizza.

Eva (aka GreaterBeast)