I had a blast participating in the 2023 MeWe Bingo challenge! The prompts were fun and it was great to be able to procrastinate for an entire year, rather than only 30 days. I think you should join me this year. But before you decide, let me share with you what I learned so that you can learn from my experience.

Much like every other photo competition, I overthought the Bingo Challenge. In addition to creating one image for 22 prompts I added a few additional restrictions and guidelines. I thought, “cool! Why not use the same figure for the whole year!” 

But who to choose? Photographing only one character for a year seemed liked it would be a tough choice. I narrowed my choices by eliminating any figure I knew I would grow tired of quickly. In addition I only considered figures with multiple hands. Of course having a figure that could be easily transported in my backpack all year was important. As toy photographers know, the toys get dirty and banged up with continuous use.

After narrowing the choice down to several options, I looked at the challenge prompts to see if one character fit them better. As I considered the possibilities, it occurred to me that I could run the challenge TWICE. Why not create an image for EACH prompt with with TWO different figures? Then I could compare how the image changes when the character changed. I’m interested in seeing how changing the character in the same scene would affect tone and overall outcome. Plus, how cool would it be to see how two radically different toys would approach each prompt.

Behold my choices!

Mezco Street Gomez and Revoltech Woody 1.5!

I immediately hit a roadblock when I started photographing these two figures with the same props. Lighting two radically different figures proved more difficult than I had anticipated.

Gomez is dark and a fairly monotone figure while Woody is bright and colourful. This meant that I could not simply set the lights and swap figures in each photos. Adjustments were need nearly every time; even very small ones.

I also hadn’t considered how Woody’s hat would add a shadow to his face! To overcome this issue I cheated a bit and removed it. I consider this cheating because “what’s a cowboy without his hat?”.

The other obstacle I ran into with my double prompt challenge was coming up with situations for both figures. I had a vision for the prompts that where a slightly different take on each one. For example with the prompt Brave I could have easily had Gomez fighting off a bunch of robots or stormtroopers, but that didn’t really seem to fit for Woody. So, I had to go deeper:

“What IS bravery?”

“Doing something that scares you.”

“And what scares you?”

By sitting on this idea and being still I came up with my solution: what’s more brave than facing your fears on a therapist’s couch?

When I consider the questions: “What’s a cowboy without his hat?”. My answer is a man. So, setting aside a symbol of his identity, he takes to the therapist’s couch. The symbol of the hat (action) is set aside for couch (words). The same is true for Gomez. He trades in his sword and shoulder for the therapist’s couch.

Pushing myself

When I first saw the prompt for Supernatural I knew exactly what photo I wanted to take. And this was even before I had picked my figures. And this image has become one of my favourite photos from this challenge! My goal was to stretch myself and create a practical effects in camera. I wish that I had gotten a behind the scenes on this one, but I didn’t have enough hands to capture it.

To get this effect I was shining a mounted LumeCube into glasses that I was holding in my hand and moving. This created the glowing ball effect. I had a second light mounted off to the side with a green filter to help ‘sell’ the glowing effect on the faces.

There were quite a few failed attempts to get these two final images. Like I mentioned earlier, these are two of my favorite images from the challenge. They also represent a lot of hard work, planning, and patience on my part wich I’m proud of.

Through the year, I was constantly surprised at how different the tone was for each character. Gomez certainly came out looking more sinister, especially in comparison to Woody. I wonder if the difference would be less if I posted them separately rather than together? Who knows? I learned that the smallest detail can change the perspective and tone of the image.

These are my images for the Flora and Fauna prompt. For some reason, no one seemed respond to the image of Roach giving them a flower.

In Conclusion

I was asked what I would change if I was to challenge myself with a double character series again. While I still want to approach each prompt with two different characters I want to put more space between the images. Rather than pushing myself to take them at the same time, I want to have to reflect on the results before trying it again. Also this time around I will be playing around with scale more. I’ve chosen my figures and now it’s time to get busy and take on the 2024 MeWe Bingo challenge!

I hope that you will join me.