A toy safari is a chance to share a passion

We just have to accept that Kristina is not a group person

I have spent five amazing days in Seattle with the Toy-Safari-group. This is my second safari, since I attended my first in Waxholm last summer and I meet Shelly and the European StuckinPlastic people for the first time. Without the great experience in Waxholm, I would never have ended up in Seattle for this safari. Why? Because just as the quote says in the beginning of this blog post, I’m not a group person, or maybe I’m just a  group person for a toy-safari.


Why am I only a group person for a toy-safari?

The reason is simple, to attend a safari is experience the possibilities, to have the opportunity to try new things and to see other photographers at work.  When you’re on a safari your part of a group of people that shares the same passion for photography, and that is an amazing experience. To be honest this is an odd hobby; to spend time lying on the ground taking pictures of toys. But on a safari this odd hobby  suddenly becomes the most normal thing, because everybody is doing it. We are all lying on the ground taking pictures of our toys. And that is a feeling that you never can get if you don’t come to a toy-safari or shoot toys in a group of like minded photographers.


One thing that amazes me, is all the ideas that the other photographers  come up with. They seam to have endless ideas for photographs and that is a bit intimidating because I seems to have none. But when you’re on a safari there are so many possibilities to make pictures outside of your comfort zone. You can always borrow a toy or two from another fellow photographer, and suddenly you, like me, can become a toy-photographer of Chima or Pandas – yes I went for Shelly’s toy-box :).


No, I’m not a group person, but I love the opportunity to be part of a crowd that shares my passion. So thank you Seattle (especially you Shelly!) and thank you to all the photographers that attend the Safari.


Seattle Toy Safari 2016

p.s here are some of my behind the scenes pictures, (the rest is on flickr)d.s.




The #SeattleToyPhotoSafari was a success

By every measure possible, the #SeattleToyPhotoSafari was a success; thirty toy photographers, four days, one beautiful city and hundreds of toy photographs were taken. As one of the hosts of the weekend, it was everything I could have dreamed of, and so much more.

To help you appreciate how much fun these events are, I’ve asked several of the attendees to write about their experiences. I had the honor of interviewing many of the participants during our time together and they were often far more successful in relating the appeal of these events than I could ever be.  While we wait for these posts to come in (I think its safe to say we all need a couple of days to recover), I thought I would set the stage for the event with a run down of what transpired.  (@BrickandMordor created this handy Google Docs map if you want to see how far and where we traveled.)

Friday afternoon’s photo shoot at Magnuson Park was set-up for those photographers who arrived in town early; there were attendees drifting into the park all afternoon. @Dinoczars (my co-host) and I took turns bringing people back to the hidden glen we found ourselves in. While the light was harsher than anyone would have liked, and the swamps had dried up, we all made the best of the situation; already the energy was high and the toy swapping had begun.

That evening everyone converged on my house, were we made short work of six Windy City Pies. It was a beautiful evening and the crowd drifted to the patio where a fire was started in the fire pit. The video crew soon arrived and they set up and began the process of documenting the weekend. The three boxes of LEGO and the case of Disney collectible mini figures that were shipped from Billund, DK were unpacked and set out for everyone to drool over. We put names in a hat and divided up the spoils as equitably as possible.  Since Saturday morning had an early start time, I kicked the last stragglers out of my house around 11:00pm so I could tidy up and get ready for the next day.

The weather forecast had been vacillating all week between 80% and 30% chance of rain for our Saturday adventure; when I woke up to the sound of rain I knew it had landed on the high side. After a short ferry ride across Puget Sound, we soon arrived at Fort Casey  and were treated to a dark and rainy sight. It was hard not to get discouraged, but I think we were all riding the high of simply being together, so we made the best of it. We headed to the actual fort, found dry nooks and crannies and set to work. I was never more impressed with a group of photographers than that day. No one complained, no one grumbled, everyone simply set about capturing amazing photos given the circumstances. Even though Unikitty was crying over the weather, photographically it was amazing!

Rain, Rain, Go Away!

By the time we left Fort Casey the weather was improving; Deception Pass had a light grey overcast which was perfect for outdoor photography. We hung out on the appropriately named Pass Island, climbing on rocks, tucking toys into tall grass and moss and starting to find our groove as a group. By the time we headed off to Mount Erie, you could tell that the weekend was going to be a success, especially with improving weather.

Mount Erie did not disappoint; it’s hard to not love this location. High above Deception Pass and Whidbey Island, you have unobstructed views back towards Seattle. This picturesque location offers stunning views, deep pine needle forest floors, granite rocks and moss – everything the discerning outdoor toy photographer could ask for.

A tradition born out of the Las Vegas meet-up is the toy swap. Everyone who wanted to participate, brought a wrapped toy to the blind ‘white elephant’ style gift exchange. We drew numbers, picked a toy and hoped it wasn’t ‘stolen’ by anyone else who’s number came later in the process. Kristina’s boys sat int he back of my van watching the proceedings with evident glee on their faces. It was a fun and silly way to end a full day of toy photography. Who doesn’t appreciate a few new toys to photograph (except maybe @Kalexanderson :) )?

On our way back to Seattle we stopped at BoboKhan, a locally owned toy store. Les, one of the owners, was kind enough to let us arrive after hours so we could shop for new toys. This is also a tradition leaned from our Las Vegas experience, every toy safari (at least the US version) needs to include a little toy shopping. A result of shopping at BoboKhan was that the owner purchased all of @wikitoybox’s #mylillshietz and a few prints from @papajov to resell. An unexpected bonus for sure!

As is typical of a Seattle spring, the weather quickly changed and we had a stunningly sunny Sunday. We gathered at the base of the Space Needle on the grounds of the Seattle Center (the home of the 1962 World’s Fair). Some photographers headed over to the Experience Music Project to take advantage of the big pink reflective wall and views of the Space Needle. Eventually we all ended up at this amazing water feature tucked into one of the many walk ways on the grounds. If you see a lot of water images, you’ll know why. It was fun to share this magical spot with so many wonderful toy photographers. Unikitty was so happy!!

It’s sunny!! Happy day indeed!!

All too soon we broke for lunch and headed to the Armory on the grounds for a bite to eat. After lunch we headed to the new home of KEXP to find a quiet spot for our print exchange.  Fourteen photographers brought copies of one of their images that was then shared with the others. Those who participated, left with a lasting, and unique, memento of the event. Since we were at KEXP, a few music lovers decided to take an impromptu tour of the station while the others headed to our next location.

Soon we were all united again at our final location, the Olympic Sculpture Park. The SAM sculpture garden has much to offer: amazing art work, views back towards the city as well as the beach and views of Puget Sound. We all spent a wonderful afternoon photographing toys, swapping more stories, joking and generally enjoying the beautiful afternoon.

All too soon  the first of the goodbyes began. Not everyone was able to stay through Monday as we all have ‘real’ lives. But with so many great memories made, such good fun had, and new friendships made, we all knew it wouldn’t be long before we would see each other again. :)

For those staying through Monday, we had one last photographic adventure planned to Snoqualmie Falls. The weather cooperated with a perfect cloud cover of that endless grey that Seattle is known for. While it may not be beautiful, it certainly presents wonderful photographic conditions. The lower falls area presents a uniquely beautiful setting that incorporates moss, ferns, water and sandy beach – plenty of options for the most discriminating photographer. I knew I had chosen well when so many in our reduced group said it was their favorite location.

Since I’d been running my friends pretty hard the two previous days I wanted everyone to have some down time before we headed to the baseball game at 7:10 pm. So after a relaxing afternoon, sixteen toy photographers headed to Safeco field to watch the Oakland A’s (the team favored by @krash_override and @lizzybell beat the home team, the Seattle Mariners). Fly balls were whizzing over our heads, too many garlic fries were consumed and those who stayed late were witness to a near by fan fight and a close call with a fly ball. High adventure indeed!

I know that this was an incredibly successful event because I saw the silly smiles on my friends faces, even the more stoic ones. I was witness to lasting friendships being created, I saw toys being freely swapped, war stories were exchanged and promises of “see you next time” were heard. In fact we’re already planning the 2017 US meet-up!

If you’ve made it this far, I want to thank you! As I mentioned before you will be reading about this event from several different view points in the coming weeks. I want to give our out of town guests, the new photographers, the non-lego photographers and the safari veterans a chance to tell you in their own words about this event and why you should already be thinking about joining us next year.

~ Shelly

And now the thank you’s…

A big StuckinPlastic thank you to the following participants of the third StuckinPlastic toy photo safari: @Dinoczars, @cblakely (check out his Flickr feed of the event with plenty of BTS), @fathersfigures, @bear__trap, @krash_override, @lizzybelle9, @wiiman, @carteraug21, @mrs.playwell, @papajov, @wikitoybox, @travelbricks, @coney_dogg, @brickandmordor, @thereeljames23, @tronsoda, @chrispirillo, @camrc_, @intangibledandy @interplanetjanet, @interplanetfoo, @kalexanderson, @greaterbeast, @buttsintheair, @jagsaurus, @samsoosin, @sunnymartini, Riley and Eva. You guys are awesome!

I also want to thank @Coney_dogg and @Krash_override who created our amazing signature figure for this event. You’re both talented and generous people and I’m forever grateful you’re on team #stuckinplastic!

I like to take long walks on the beach.

I want to thank my favorite neighbor and [email protected] Even though he was juggling a new baby and family obligations through out the entire planning process, he was always there when I needed him! I couldn’t have done this without you Jon!

I would be remiss if I didn’t thank Luke (@teamknecht) and Justin (@justincarterwilmore) who helped us to document the entire weekend. I’ve been on many adventures with these two video warriors and I’m grateful they both stepped up and donated their time and energy to this project. Stay tuned for the final  product coming later this year courtesy of the super talented @brickandmordor. Go team #stuckinplastic!!

And finally a HUGE thank you to the fine folks at The LEGO Group who helped to sponsor this event and donated 30+ sets that were distributed to the attendees. Follow the tags #Seattletoyphotosafari_LEGO and #Seattletoyphotosafari_DisneyCMF to see what becomes of all that LEGO. Personally I saw many photographers who normally don’t shoot LEGO inspired by the possibilities created by these new toys. I can’t wait to see what happens!

Its over already?
Stay tuned, tomorrow we will feature @Kalexanderson’s amazing behind the scenes photos. 

Pressure to perform

Pressure to perform

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but karate kid will bruise me

Everybody was Kung Fu Fighting
Those kicks were fast as lightning
Carl Douglas – Kung Fu Fighting

Yes, Carl, they were. In fact, it was a little bit frightening!

I’m both a tad embarrassed and a touch proud to fess up that my 11-year-old son recently sent me to hospital with a suspected broken hand. Now I don’t condone violence, but seeing all his years of Shinkyokushin Karate training, tournaments and gradings pay off filled me with a certain degree of painful pride. Luckily for me (and him) I only suffered bone bruising, but I’m still confined to a plaster splint.

With my arm in plaster, I feel somewhat like L.B. Jeffries in Hitchcock’s “Rear Window”. Confined to my New York apartment country home, spending my time looking out of the rear window through my Instagram feed, observing my neighbours fellow toy photographers. I suspect that the man across the courtyard all the other toy photographers may have murdered his wife be having a lot of fun without me.

Rear Window
Rear Beer Window

Heck, they might even forget about me if I’m #stuckinplaster for too long and I’m unable to contribute and participate!

Hence, the pressure to perform.

The burden of continual posting, be it photos or words, is a heavy cross to bear.

I fumble, mainly one-handed, to arrange Lego minifigures to shoot. I cuss at the Lego a lot more than usual. I curse at myself for being a fat handed twat. I cockup camera settings once the one inch figures are finally positioned. I bungle edits of the expletive laden photos I eventually manage to capture. I spend more time than I should.

Oh, one inch man, lonely soul
Yeah, two inch man, gimme more
Kyuss – One Inch Man

So why would I put myself though all this pointless pressure and pain? Why do I persevere with taking a photo that is taking me far too long to setup, capture, edit and post? Why do I stick with it?

I guess, as Shelly points out, it’s all because I’m #stuckinplastic!

And yes, I grasp (with my good hand) the irony of me writing this as my colossal bandaged hand smooshes keys into the keyboard.


Oh my…

Just as everyone seems to be all busy preparing their journeys to the north east of the United States and looking forward to this weekend’s Seattle Toy Photography Meet-Up, I´m rather feeling torn between going green with envy and simply being sad because I can´t be there…

…to meet all the fantastic attendees from all over the place!

…to  actually meet many of those tiny digital people from inside my mobile device in real life!

…to get together with like-minded individuals and feel the spirit amongst toy photographers!

…to learn more and more about taking photos and about other cultures´ toys!

…to simply have a massively great time!!!

But, there is a light in the dark.
Continue reading A LIGHT IN THE DARK

#StuckinPlastic, should you be using it?

Occasionally I’m asked by a fellow toy photographer if they can use the hashtag #stuckinplastic. My answer is always “yes!” But maybe I should take a moment to explain the uses of hashtags and what it means when you use ours to make sure that it’s right for you. Continue reading #StuckinPlastic, should you be using it?

Exhibition ammunition

Every picture yada yada yada

Every picture tells a story.

A picture is worth a thousand words.

Yep, we’ve all heard these before.

I guess I’ve been afforded the luxury of posting images on Instagram with accompanying words. Heck, the words were what dictated my shots when I first started posted. Silly little puns. Silly little puns, with a silly little photo to accompany them. Continue reading Exhibition ammunition

Did Someone Say Toy Safari?

Have you ever been to a toy safari? I’ve been fortunate to be a part of quite a few. From two people to twenty people I find them to be quite an adventure. There’s nothing like stalking people on Instagram and then finally meeting them on a toy safari. I don’t know what it is about the combination of toys and photography that leaves so much to discuss and laugh about but that’s what happens.

Plus you get to play with other people’s toys!

Continue reading Did Someone Say Toy Safari?

The Storm Before the Calm

With less than a week to go before the Stuck-In-Plastic Meet-up I can officially say that I have begun my descent into madness.  The preparation, planning, expense and anticipation leading up to an event of this caliber are enough to drive a man straight into the plush, padded rooms of “Arkham Asylum”.  Add on the extra stressors of needing to decide which action figures to take, cleaning camera gear and remembering to pack a toothbrush alongside completing an inconceivable amount of custom action figures and I have effectively topped off my “stress Sunday” with a ripe-red cherry.  So why do we do it?  Why do we add this pressure onto an already weary body while knowingly turning our PTO Balance into a shadow of its former self?  

The answer, to me, is simple.   Continue reading The Storm Before the Calm

Seattle, I will miss you …

Seattle is only a weekend away. Five days before some awesome toy photographers (and old friends) will meet for a weekend of shooting plastic together, sharing stories and toys alike. Photo bombing each other shots and sharing techniques while discovering the most beautiful spots of Seattle and surrounding. Sure, I will miss you all and already feel a little bit jealous of the memories I will have to miss out while meeting old and new friends alike. Continue reading Seattle, I will miss you …

An Arts Collective