Listen, look on your desk, and pilfer!

Monday morning: Arrive at work…URGGH! Coffee. Sit at my desk and get lost in James’ latest podcast. Catch up on the weekend’s Toy Photographers posts. Panic that I don’t have a post written for the week. Scramble.

Pilfered Ideas

James’ post about expanding his toy photographing subject matter beyond what he began shooting struck a chord with me. And saved my bacon (or facon for my fellow vegos) by inspiring me to write what I’d been thinking about.

Like James I overpacked for the Oregon Toy Photo Safari. I always overpack. But since returning home, the only box of toys I’ve unpacked to shoot and inspire me is the one that didn’t contain LEGO? The box of LEGO, that was essentially ballast for my backpack largely remains as it did when I closed it for the last time in Oregon. There’s still some Arcadia Beach sand in there.

And my desk at work, usually strewn with LEGO Minifigures, is now overrun with other toys.

But that’s not a bad thing!

Desk Dramas

My desk at work is where many tales flourish. Yes, if you’re my boss reading this, I do manage get all my work done! But my desk is also a stage for stories to grow as impromptu, unrehearsed dramas play out, through play and posing.

As the cast of toys bebopped and improvised this week, here are some of the tales that emerged from my desk. Dr. Bunsen Honeydew looked on with horror as Beaker pleaded with Ash to lower his boom stick from the back of Danbo’s head. Gizmo practiced wiener dipping, before midnight of course! A Stormtrooper helped Bossk prepare for his big night by teaching him how to slow dance (still being rehearsed!).

tales from my desk: No dipping after midnight
tales from my desk: No dipping after midnight

My work desk is a little like Cindy and Leila’s dinner bar. “Don’t play with your food!” “I’m not playing with my food, I’m playing with my toys.” It’s more than just a place where I mash the keys to make code work, it’s also a rehearsal space for my toys to workshop their ideas. Yes, their ideas. They’re their stories, not mine. I’m just listening intently to what they’re trying to tell me.

Envious Eyeing

I also returned from Oregon with a severe case of toy envy. I think that’s why my LEGO box of travelling weight still remains unpacked. I’ve never been exposed to non-LEGO toy photographers en masse before. And those toys are tough to overlook. If they’re in a toy box as you snoop, being posed in a photographer’s hands or set up in front of a camera, they’re big. Well, they’re bigger than LEGO.

tales from my desk: "Ash! No!"
tales from my desk: “Ash! No!”

Seeing someone hunched over LEGO as they shot, was familiar. It was another LEGO Minifigure being photographed. But seeing another photographer crouched before Man Beast, or Sweetums, or Bender, or He-Man was novel. These new-fangled toys drew my attention and sucked me in. They’ve also sucked cash out of my wallet!

I only wished I’d taken up the offer to shoot more toys out of others’ toy boxes. Why didn’t I take David up on his offer to shoot Sweetums? Maybe I was intimidated? Maybe it’s just because I’m a bit of a dickhead. If I did, it might’ve made my toy envy less so. And it might’ve saved my wallet from a Sweetums search online!

Curtain Call Conclusions

Envy. Novelty. Progression. Like James, I don’t know why I’m shifting to new toys of late. And I don’t know if this recent inclination will continue. Will it coexist with my affinity for LEGO photography? Perhaps LEGO will always win the battle for the spotlight?  Whatever the case, my desk is definitely busier than it was a month ago. And for now, the tales that are emerging are, at the very least, giving me something to write about.

– Brett

Where do your toys rehearse? And has the cast of your plays changed over time?

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  1. Wonderful post, Brett (and thanks for linking to James’ thoughts, which I almost missed)! It is a strange conicidence this comes at a time when I start playing around with my first action figure…

    Among the things I really liked was the question, “where do your toys rehearse?” I never really thought about it but now that you mention it: While building my stage sets, I usually can’t wait till they are finished so I start shooting half-built sets – just to see how they work. And that does not just lead to a bunch of unplanned yet somehow intriguing photos but also to new ideas.

    I can totally relate to what you write. Using my desk at work for rehearsals would mean I can pack my stuff the next day though … lucky you!

    • brett_wilson

      Thanks Tobias.
      I was never one for rehearsing shots. Sure, I had ideas in my head of what I was hoping to achieve, but I never really set up shots and tested them before I was out shooting. I’ve learned that rehearsal not only helps save me time when shooting, like you, it also leads to completely new ideas that I never knew existed!
      Having a space at work where my toys can play is a blessing!

  2. Joshua Kittleson

    rehearsal, oh man, sometimes i question if i like the conceptualizing and rehearsing more than the actual shooting. one of my own favourites is of Big Boss doing a Close Quarters Combat takedown of a custom fig. I YouTubed takedowns from the game and of professionals demonstrating step by step to make sure it was perfect.

    • brett_wilson

      I think I like the rehearsal more too. Well, I call it rehearsal, but others might call it play!
      Sure, the shooting and the editing are fun, but some good time spent playing, I mean rehearsing, makes those things less problematic.

  3. Tony Tulloch

    I’m too lazy to listen to my toys. An idea will pop into my head and I will go and pull them out of a drawer for the image. Actually, I lied: I will search all over the house for the last place I left said toy; then I will shoot it and leave the toy in an equally ridiculous place.

    • brett_wilson

      One could argue that your searching is a form of impromptu interpretive dance rehearsal?
      I too spend more time than I care to mention searching for toys. And, as I’m sure you’re aware, as the search progresses, the places searched becomes even more ridiculous. I recently looked in the fridge in the search for a misplaced toy? It wasn’t there of course!

  4. “They’re their stories, not mine. I’m just listening intently to what they’re trying to tell me.” I loved this description, Brett. As a fiction writer, I feel the same way about my characters. I don’t have room on my computer desk for many figures, but my house has them in odd corners. A Star Wars figure peeking around a corner with a blaster, a Halo Master Chief leaning casually against a pencil can. They’ll be there, I’ll get used to them, and then someone in the family will put them in a new pose and surprise me.

    When it comes to taking photos, I tend to hunt for a spot outside that has some interest and decent light. Then I pull out whatever character seems to fit that environment, or someone that I’ve been wanting to see. Other times I get an idea for a scenario and do special work to set it up. One of the things I love about the toy photo community is the chance to get ideas from others. I’ll have to try this “rehearsing” (or playing) idea. It sounds like fun. 🙂

  5. Leila @brickandmordor

    LOL, hey boss, don’t fire Brett!

    Isn’t it funny how the toy safaris inspire you to shoot more of the non-lego toys? I’ve found this to be true for me every time, not sure why. I actually feel guilty if I post several non-lego images in a row… I’m like, “I better post a LEGO photo soon to keep my ‘brick’ identity!”

    And holy moly, look at all your lego wieners! No wonder you won at the Dipping for Deadpool game! You obviously have a lot of practice wielding them!

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