The Thing with Ideas

I tend to immerse myself quite deeply in work related projects, they are usually fast assignments that don’t last long, but if they bundle up or are longer than usual, they may get quite intense and leave very little room to focus on much else. The state of deep immersion never lasts long, though, and after a deadline, when the work is done, it’s gone.

I love my job.

There is this seemingly unproductive moment when you take a moment to pull yourself together after an assignment. You’re supposed to rest but paradoxically, that’s the moment when your mind starts to wander and leave room for ideas to emerge. When this happens there are but two choices: keep resting (but make notes) or relax while working on something you love. I usually go for the latter.

I guess I could put my ideas for toyphotography roughly to four categories as follows:

1: The simple ones that can be shot instantly. Like the Lego minifigure portraits, they take from 15 minutes to an hour to do.

2: Another type of simple ideas, but the kind that you just can’t get down and do instantly on the spot. Like going underwater to shoot toys. It’s simple but there has to be an underwater camera and there has to be clear water, neither of which I had access to when I initially got the idea. So I saved that for later.

3: The complicated ones. Like the snow or smoke photographs, they take time to set up and sometimes the cleaning afterwards can take longer than the shoot itself. These make nice photographs, maybe the best ones I’ve done, but finding the time or motivation for these has turned out to be a bit of a challenge these days.

4: The ambitious ones. Some ideas are complicated and need preparation, like the big X-wing fighter model I’ve been working on since last December. It was supposed to be a quick build, a testbed for another model, but, alas, here we are, still building. Well, it’s really finished by now, just a couple of details to redo.


I had an idea how I wanted to photograph it when I started but it doesn’t feel like such a brilliant idea anymore. See, this thing has taken about four years in total to come to this point. The models are not that easy to come by, took me two years to catch the first, and then there’s the build that takes months. This is a risk with the big ideas, over the long preparation time you lose the moment and perhaps the spark that got you started in the first place. What was rare four years ago is not rare anymore, Star Wars spaceship model photos are quite common these days.


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7 years ago

There have been so many times when I’ve started on an ambitious idea, bought all of the bits and pieces I need, set up the scene, and felt the crushing disappointment that the picture in the viewfinder is nothing like what I had in my head. I’ve learnt to try and visualise exactly how a photo will work before spending too much time on it now!

I’ve enjoyed your work-in-progress model shots though, and you must be having fun building it?

Chris Rose
7 years ago

That must be really frustrating after investing so much time and effort. I personally leave a lot of ideas on the back burner without ever having a plan as to when I’ll go back to them. Some seem to pop up when I buy a new figure or set and I’ll have mad hour or two working on them. A lot of what I consider my best work has come out of the ashes of a failed idea or project that I’ve been about to give up on and it’s sent me down another road at the last minute.

7 years ago

There is something just a little bit heart breaking in this post. Although I have watched you long enough to know that when you go back and look at what you have accomplished you will find value there somewhere. Maybe even a pretty stellar image is hiding waiting for the right time to reveal itself to you? Sure there is no shortage of Star Wars imagery in the universe these days, and I am sure it will only get worse, but they were not taken through your lens or with your eye. Whatever you have done or will do with… Read more »

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