Now that I have been home for a few days I am only now beginning to process the amazing adventure my daughter and I had traveling across Europe on our way to the #baltictoysafari. When I started planning this trip earlier this year, it always seemed too good to be true. I am pleased to report that it lived up to even my wildest expectations. Now that I have experienced all that I planned it feels like a dream; one that was over all too quick.
It is hard for me to comprehend that I met @east_mountain or @herrk or even more mind blowing… @suppaduppa666. Not only did I meet these Instagram friends that have been a part of my Instagram family for so long but we photographed toys, talked shop and ate meals together.
To meet @iancockayne who I have know through IG for almost three years was nothing short of miraculous; to meet the elusive @kandreson and watch her in action was a pleasure; to meet brand new friends @fubiken and @davirasm for the first time was super fun! David was kind enough to meet my daughter and I in town the following Tuesday for lunch and a quick trip to Mr. Gill, an alternative LEGO store. What a treat!
Even with all this photography, toy nerdy goodness there is a certain amount of regret and more than a few personal lessons learned.
First, one evening plus a full day was not enough time for me. It may be enough time to make a connection but not to establish a friendship. In Las Vegas we had two full days and two 1/2 days (if you stayed for the entire time which many of us did). I left Stockholm knowing I had met and briefly connected with all these amazing photographers, but I don’t feel like I connected with them as I did my friends in the United States. I think that any gathering of toy photographers should not be less than three days. Now that I have participated in two of these grand events I know that it takes time for everyone to get comfortable and true collaboration and friendships to occur.
My second lesson was that there was no down time planned into the festivities. While Boris (and family) took us to an amazing series of interesting sites to peak our photographic interest, we were at them too short of a time to get comfortable and we had no opportunity to revisit them. At the Vegas meet up we went each day to the same place. We moved around the park, but we all had enough time there to familiarize ourselves with this new shooting environment, get comfortable, and overcome our natural tendency to work separately. It would have been lovely to revisit a couple of the places Boris took us too, I guess I will just have to plan a return visit.
Third on my list of personal lessons learned, is that I should not plan on taking any toy photographs. I know that sounds counter intuitive since I am attending a photography meet-up, but I can take photographs anytime. What I can’t do is talk and share with my fellow toy photographers, especially such an interesting multi national group as this one was. When I have a camera in my hand I can only think about getting an interesting shot. Yet I was torn by the need to interact and the desire to shoot photographs in these new interesting locals. What I am left with is a series of photographs each with some imperfection because I wasn’t concentrating well on anything, not the people, not the photography.
My last observation from this event is my personal need for down time. Having unstructured time scheduled in would have left openings for interesting exchanges that happen when people are relaxing, traveling to the next location, grabbing a bite to eat or waiting for the rest of the group to catch up. In my experience it is in these unplanned moments that the true magic happens.
One of the biggest take aways we learned from the Las Vegas meet-up was not addressed at this gathering. It is important to recognize that besides toy photographers, we are also toy collectors. It would have been nice to have some time to talk toy collecting or to visit a toy (or LEGO) store together and shop for toys. You would be surprised what you can learn by looking at toys through the eyes of another collector.
Despite these drawbacks and personal regrets, I had a wonderful experience. I only wish that I had more time, or more accurately, used the time I had better. I can’t undo the past, but I know that when I help plan the next one I will make sure I am better prepared.
I want Boris knows how much I appreciate all the planning and hard work he and Wivika put into this event. It went off flawlessly and was truly a magical experience. We have plans to do this again next year and I want to ensure I learn from this experience so I can help make the next one bigger and better.
Are you interested in joining us next year either in the United States or Europe? If so please let us know so we can include you in our planning.