Tell us about yourself…
A big friendly hello from sunny Yorkshire in the UK. My name is Jane aka @the_brick_gremlin aka @the_toy_turnip_too. I currently work three jobs (which may explain why I’m really bad at replying to comments, etc. in a timely fashion. Sorry, everyone!). I have two jobs within the local authority and I also work as a carer for my very good friend, Stuie, who has primary progressive MS. We have morphed into a weird, platonic version of Roald Dahl’s The Twits—it’s ok to jump out from behind a door and scare a man who’s shaky on his feet, right? Tee hee. It’s good having a boss who can make you laugh until you cry!
How long have you been a toy photographer and what attracts you to this hobby?
I guess I have been a toy photographer from the moment I packed some LEGO figures and accessories in my case and took them on holiday with me to Madeira. Taking pictures of them genuinely sparked joy and creativity within me. Taking pictures of LEGO made me happy. It was so much fun to place the figures in different locations and scenarios. When I returned home, I set up an Insta account (the birth of @the_brick_gremlin) and was delighted to discover this community—people actually did the same thing as I was doing! The reaction to my pictures was positive and luckily it still is. The thing that attracts me to this hobby is being able to be creative. I studied writing for performance and creative writing at university. My tutors wanted me to go on to eventually teach the subject, which is really nice, but I just needed to rest that part of my brain, if that makes sense? I think I need to be creative. When I was younger, all I did was draw, then all I did was write, and now I take pictures.
Do you have a high-end or low-end set of gear? Both or neither?
For the most part, my photography set up involves some colored card, some coasters to hold said card in place and my phone and a window. I’m really lucky that I have lots of natural light flooding into the room where I take my pictures. The only editing tool I have on my phone is Snapseed and the editing options on Instagram. I know these pictures don’t have the same quality or depth as a picture taken on a DSLR, but I like these pictures a lot—they are bright and fun, and I get lots of enjoyment taking them. With @the_toy_turnip_too I am slowly learning how to use a DSLR. I’m lucky that I have a sweet little patch of communal garden where I can roll around and practice getting down in the grass to take pictures of my art toys. The neighbors are now used to a fully grown woman lying down on the lawn like a sniper. With the DSLR shots, I have the option to edit through Lightroom, but I do like to leave everything as natural as possible because I am a fool when it comes to technology. I’m lucky because my partner is a very good tutor when it comes to these things. I suppose all in all I’m a very basic photographer.
Tell us about your favorite photography environment.
For the longest time taking pictures indoors has been my number one for LEGO photography. I take the majority of my pictures in my living room, it’s a space that makes me so happy—it’s bright and colorful with big plants and vibrant prints on the walls. I have LEGO modulars in a big glass-fronted cabinet, along with my designer art toys on display. It’s definitely my happy place. There is a huge window and I use the light from that to take my pictures, I find being in this room produces lots of new ideas. Lately, I have been taking lots more outdoor shots, which I enjoy, but I think indoor photography will always remain my favorite.
What kind of reaction are you looking for from your viewers?
I hope that my LEGO pictures bring a smile to people’s faces as I’m always drawn to using the smiley and happy LEGO heads. Sometimes life can be a bit grim, but hopefully someone jumps on Instagram for a few minutes and one of my pictures manages to make them chuckle. I hope the pictures on @the_brick_gremlin are like little chunks of happiness. With @the_toy_turnip_too, I guess I’m trying to go down a more ‘arty’ route and I hope each viewer appreciates the composition and the bokeh, etc. But that’s probably because I am learning to use the camera!
There are a lot of toys out there! What is your favorite line to use?
My favorite toy line is most definitely LEGO. There are so many many facial expressions and themes; so many different minifigure parts to keep things interesting for me and hopefully for the people who like my pictures. As the saying goes, “Everything is awesome!” I love custom LEGO, too. Companies like Citizenbrick and Crazybricks are very cool. LEGO is so much fun!
What are the most important tips you would tell a beginning toy photographer?
I would like to say to any new toy photographers out there that this hobby will make you happy and it will probably frustrate you at times, but ultimately, no matter what your equipment or whether your style changes, or how many followers you have, or how many times you think, “I’m going to take a break,” this hobby and this community sticks with you through everything. And once you begin this journey, well, just enjoy it and do what makes you happy. Never lose sight of why you started it in the first place.
What is your greatest toy photography achievement?
Getting featured on the official LEGO Instagram page! Wowsers!