Hasbro’s 6″ Star Wars Black Series, NECA’s 7″ Alien Xenomorph, Revoltech’s highly articulated Woody and Jessie from Toy Story, Bandai’s mega-detailed 6.5″ Predator… these are the types of figures you’ll see if you stumble across my Instagram page. So how in the world did these cute little Lego Minifigures find their way in front of my lens??
Well, the credit… or blame, haha… goes to Stuck In Plastic‘s own Shelly Corbett. Stuck In Plastic is a regular, if not daily, stop for me along with my other usual news sites, forums and blogs. And it was during one of these stops a couple months ago where I learned about a Lego photography contest – one that was high on creativity and low on rules. Perfect, I thought, so I decided to give it a go. Now this is where, if this was a movie, the picture would fade to black and white and the audio would become echoey… yes, a mem-mem-memory flash-flash-flashback to when I was just a nerdy little kid sitting on our home’s 1950s-era yellow carpet playing with my Legos. Only these Legos are not the Lego Minifigs of today… no, these were the classic bricks, the only Legos I really knew up until a couple months ago. Back to present day – movie picture exploding back to full color, DTS surround sound crisp and clear, closeup on my wide eyes as I scan Amazon for Minifigs and see a whole new world unfolding before my eyes.
Several days later I found a package on my porch. I opened it up and was struck by two things – one, how small these Minifigures were (of course the word “Mini” should have been a clue!), and two, how they arrived in a million pieces (sure, an exaggeration, but only slightly!). And thus, my Lego Minifigure adventures had begun!
I’ve now had the chance to create several images with my Minifigs, and I’ve found it to be a unique experience with unique challenges. Until now I’d photographed two types of toys – fully articulated and not articulated at all. Fully articulated figures allow me to pose the figure to help support the story I’m trying to tell – for me they are the most versatile figures to work with, with untold stories possible. In the non-articulated category I’ve photographed some Disney Infinity figures and some inexpensive Lion King toys. These are probably the easiest to work with because, more often than not, they are sculpted in their ultimate “hero” pose. The angle one photographs them is often predetermined by the sculpture… but because of this I find that I get limited use out of them. The Lego Minifigs are in a category all their own, sort of a hybrid of the two. They aren’t fully articulated (not even close) so its limited articulation can only go so far in helping to support a story. But because they do have a degree of articulation, they don’t provide one with a given “hero” pose like the frozen moment, non-articulated figs. With that said, I was relieved to find that they are much more versatile than the non-articulated figs and, I believe, can ultimately be used in as many stories as the imagination allows. They are much more like the fully articulated figures in this regard and are primed for story-telling
The smaller size of the Minifigs haven’t really required a change in my shooting style… stylistically they are of course delightfully unique, but the fundamentals of photography – composition, lighting, etc. – remain the same. For me it still comes down to creating worlds for my toys to live in. I strive for my images to have ‘atmosphere,’ and I feel the smaller scale of Minifigs almost makes that easier for me to find or achieve. The world is a pretty big place, and it’s even bigger for Minifigs.
So, will I continue to photograph Lego Minifigures? Absolutely! The Lego toy photography community has been very welcoming, which I really appreciate. And I love the huge variety of Minifigs available, and the range of prices one can find them at. And because of their diminutive size and light weight they are the perfect toys to bring along on vacations and trips. I’ve always made a point of photographing different types of toys and properties and find that Minifigures add variety, depth and interest to what I do. Ultimately, a toy – any toy – is an excuse to get creative and tell a story…and that’s exactly what I see in these Minifigs.
Wonderful post! Your images are amazing. I especially like the smoke in the Spectre photo.
Welcome to the world of minifigure photography :-)
Thank you, Lynn, I had a lot of fun creating those images. Definitely need to work on adding more Minis to my collection though! But where to start haha!
Hi Lynn, thanks so much for your kind comments! Wishing you a fantastic 2017!
Such an interesting insight into the joys and challenges of LEGO photography compared to toy photography. Thanks for sharing Mitchel.
Thanks, Brett – appreciate the comments!
Nice perspective coming from fully articulated action figures to mini figures! I had the same joy discovering this in the reverse direction: LEGO to action figures. The bigger toys are so much easier to photography! LOL Love your work, Mitchel!
Thanks, Leila! I think generally yes, the larger articulated toys can be easier to photograph. But there are some definite exceptions to that rule in my collection, haha.