What inspired me to do this?
I have been doing LEGO photography for about three years now, and when I started, I didn’t expect to be still doing it today. I also didn’t expect to ever improve my photography. I focus mainly on recreating shots from movies I love, and sometimes I feel like I’ve run out of inspiration. Recently though, I’ve been looking back on old photos I’ve taken and seen a fairly distinct difference in the quality between them and photos I have been taking lately.
It gave me this idea to recreate my own work from the past and use the skills I’ve learned since then to improve upon them. Originally I thought doing this may “cheapen” my Instagram page since I’ve already done these scenes before, but I decided to look past that because these are scenes I love and I knew I could recreate them in higher quality.
How do they compare, and to what do I attribute this?
I think that my new photos are significantly better compared to the old. People often ask me if I have gotten a new camera recently and if that is why my photos have improved, but I haven’t. I’ve had the same camera for three years—I’ve just learned more about it. I used to shoot all of my photos with the automatic, no-flash setting, but once I learned about aperture and how it would let me play with light and focus, I was able to take that and apply it to my photography. My old photos used to have just one main subject in focus, but now I’m able to focus on multiple objects. When it comes to lighting, I used to simply shine a flashlight at the subject and shoot, but I have invested in a lightbox that allows light to be better balanced. This also helps make the photos more clear by decreasing any sort of glare.
Timing and pieces
Two other aspects I have learned can help to improve photos are time spent and pieces used. I can’t count the amount of times I’ve rushed a photo because of the pressure I’ve put on myself to finish it by a certain time. But I’ve learned when recreating photos, just spending more time on them can make a huge difference. This can allow for a more detailed background, a better angle and a better lighting setup. Another thing I’ve learned to do is to look through my pieces and think about the different ways I can use them to build the sets for my photos. Instead of just using what pieces are easiest and I can quickly throw together, I have begun to look at different building techniques and anything that can add detail for my backgrounds. Combining a better build with better lighting and focus can make a huge difference.
What have I learned from doing this?
I have learned that it is okay to critique your own work. This has been a good way for me to critique my past work in a healthy way. It’s easy to look back and think negatively about my past work, but by simply recreating it with the lighting and camera techniques I’ve learned, it allows me to appreciate the old and be happy with the new. The way I see it, the old to the new tells a story. Plus, it’s a fun thing to do!
Would I encourage others to do this?
I would absolutely encourage others to recreate their past work. Doing it has been a fun way to learn more about lighting and camera techniques. If someone looks back at a picture from years ago and knows they can improve on it now, I say why not? When you look at the old next to the new, it’s one of the clearest ways to see progress in your photography journey.
You can see all of the photos I’ve recreated on my Instagram highlight titled ‘Old vs. New.’
– Michael Lepard (@michaellepard)