How to integrate LEGO photography into your con

Have you ever wondered how to integrate LEGO photography into your local con?  I know I have!  I love championing LEGO photography. I think it’s a great hobby, a wonderful creative outlet and a great way to be involved in the wonderful world of LEGO, especially if you’re not a master builder. So when I come across a great idea that helps to spread the word about our fun hobby, I want to know more and share it with you!

On March 25-26 2016, Brick-A-Laide, a LEGO Fan Event, took over the Adelaide Convention Centre in Adelaide, Australia. A few friends I know through our wide spread LEGO photography community created a LEGO display and introduced attendees to the wonderful world of toy photography and I want to share their story with you. I asked Narelle (rellie16) and 42 (xlii) the masterminds behind this wonderful exhibition and few questions about the event and what led them to this new way to interact with potential fans.

What is your connection to LEGO and the Mini figure?
Narelle (@rellie16) – I first started taking photos of Minifigs back in July 2014.  I had been using Instagram for about a year & had been doing a Photo a Day challenge.  Through that I connected with other Instagrammers in Adelaide & I saw some Lego photos from #instameetadl1 taken by @xlii  & I had also seen some photos on Instagram taken by @hellobenteoh  &  @legotravellers .  I thought I would give it a go & that’s how #bettyandjohnsgreatadventures came about.  I have branched out into building small MOC’s (eg. the Rock Band we used for our display)
 
42 (@xlii) – In 2012 I was following someone on Instagram who was posting toy photography shots and then they started posting some of LEGO – I had recently started to collect mini figures and thought “hey, I want to do that!”  My connection is mostly minifigs, I’m not a builder.  I’ll build sets, but I tend to buy them for the figs.
What inspired you to create the hands on workshop at Brickalaide?
When Narelle took the Rock Band MOC to our monthly meet up & 42 started swapping out the mini figures for her own & took some photos.  Then we thought “hey let’s do this at Brick-a-laide”.  It escalated from there into three scene dioramas; we settled on Rock Band, Star Wars and Geocaching.  We chose the Rock Band, since it was built for a small display at a local library, it was ready to go. We chose the Star Wars scene since we had the set on hand and most people like Star Wars. It was also good because it provided people with three different angles for photos. The Real World / Geocaching set up was chosen because we both take our photos out in the real world and because geocaching represents one of the hobbies of 42.   It added another activity to talk about with people; they may already have been geocaching but had not thought about taking their mini figures along for photos.  We felt this was important but also wanted to make sure that it was OK that we use non-Lego props for a Lego event. We consulted with Tim (@keith_the_stormtrooper), Brick-a-laide Event Co-ordinator/Consultant and he was very supportive of our idea. He said that our display was all about showing people other uses for their Lego. It turned out that all three of our displays were very popular.
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What the set-up looked like.
What was your goal in creating the hands on display and photography workshops?
We wanted to show other people that you don’t need to spend a lot of money to create with Lego; all you need is a figure and a phone.
Did many people participate in your activity?

Tons!  Many more than we had expected!

What kind of people were attracted to your photography display? Kids, adults, men, women, any teens?

Everyone, people of all ages & genders.  There wasn’t one specific demographic that stood out as being more prevalent than the others.

Did you find you were introducing new people to the craft, or were you talking to a lot of familiar faces?

The number of new people greatly outweighed the number of familiar faces.  Also, the amount of people who hadn’t thought about taking photos of LEGO as a creative outlet was considerable.  Parents were also happy that it was something that the kids could do out in their own backyard for very little money.

What kind of information did you want to share with people? What skills were you hoping to teach?

We wanted to share the idea that you don’t need to spend lots of money to enjoy LEGO; you don’t NEED to be a builder.  Our main idea was that people can just use their phone to take a photo, you don’t need a DSLR or other fancy camera to take a good photo. 42 had some pictures canvas printed on the wall behind the displays and explained that they were all taken on an iPhone.  The amount of people who were surprised that an iPhone could take such a good photo was amazing. We were showing people how to position the phone / adjust lighting / focus on objects to get the shot they wanted.  We had little boxes set up in front of the displays to demonstrate to people “this is where you need to sit your phone to get a good shot” and encouraged people to move the characters in the scenes, or to substitute a character out and put their own sig fig in the scene. We wanted them to personalize the scene and make the shot their own.

What questions did people have for you?
Where did you get the light box?
Is that a set?
Did you build that?
Can I touch it?
How did the public perceive you and this activity? Were they supportive, enthusiastic or skeptical?

On the whole, people were supportive & enthusiastic.  Because part of the exhibit was to put your own sig fig in the scene, a lot of people went to the stores to build their own fig, then they came back to take their photos.  Others commented how if they’d known we were going to be there they would have brought their sig fig along.  We catered to all and we had some “special guests” that they could put into the scenes to make it more personal and interactive.

I know you created a hashtag for people to post their photos to on social media. Have you followed up to see if anyone did that? If so, how was the response?

Yes we did have hashtags that were associated with the event, although we probably had too many.  We had two for the whole event:   #brickalaide2016  &  #minifigsatbrickalaide2016  which were somewhat successful.  We have also found photos under just  #brickalaide  &  #minifigsatbrickalaide. We also had three hashtags which related to the specific scene  ( #legomoseisleycantina  #legorockband  #geocachingwithlego ).  This was less successful.  Next time we would consider using only one hashtag with fewer characters in it.

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Promotional post card created for the event.
What was the best and worst part of this experience?

On the whole this was a good experience though we were run off our feet on both days.  After the incident late on the first day with the minifig that went walkies, we changed a few things for the second day. For example only one person at a time per display and more sets of eyes to help as each new wave of people came through.

We were positioned in the rear/middle of the exhibition hall with the masterclasses for LEGO Photography (@HelloBenTeoh),  LEGO Comics (@LLworld)  & LEGO Stop-motion videos (@CheepJokes) being held in a small theatre right behind our display.  On the other side of the theatre area were the Traders, Cafe & free build areas.  It worked well that we were not mixed in with all the other displays & had our own area.

Would you do this again?

Yes, definitely, provided we get a lunch break hehe. :)

Can you sum up in one or two sentences your biggest take away for this event?

It was great to see people of all ages & walks of life having fun at our display.  The smiles on their faces when they took their photo made the long days at the event & the work put in beforehand all worthwhile.

I want to thank Narelle and 42 for taking the time to talk about their amazing event. I also want to thank Ben Teoh, CheepJokes and LLWorld for helping to spread the word about LEGO photography. Now that I have the blue print on how to integrate toy photography into a brick convention, it’s only a matter of time before I can do the same here in my home town.

~ Shelly

If you have any further questions for Narelle and 42, please leave them in the comments.

If you’ve integrated LEGO photography into your local brick convention, I would love to hear what you did and how it went, please share your story.

If you would like support creating a similar event at your own LEGO convention or Lego Fan Fair, let us know, we would be happy to help.

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42 keeping a watchful eye over the booth!

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Awesome /:D