To Go or Not To Go …

I spent a while pondering whether I should go or not, though it was very tempting from the beginning. I had only been recently converted to legography and I had enjoyed the stuckinplastic blog for some time. I eventually made my decision to join last minute, as always, and sort of crashed the party.

Benny meets the frog
Benny meets the frog …

Before that, Shelly had inadvertently triggered a chain of unexpected events when she published Going Home in Brick Culture. I remember telling myself “whaouh you can actually do that with Lego!” I knew then I had to try do something, I could reconcile my (sometimes non reciprocal) love of bricks and minifigs with my quest of an artistic medium through which I could crystallise my favourite oddities, expressing and creating something fun – if not ironic or provocative -, quirky, imaginative and, when possible, inspirational. The Benny and its Divers Klub “series” emerged rather randomly in Hamburg and might be made of this quixotic fabric.

The diver club ...
Benny discovers the rest of the gang …

Notwithstanding my late incoming, not even mentioning I was completely out of my depth and comfort zone (I am going to meet people I don’t know who take pictures of toys made of ABS plastic), I arrived just with my iPhone, no followers in any sort of artistic / social media and a very basic set of photographic skills (read: none). I had to fight my inherent self-doubt and duality when it comes to legography: regardless of how much I enjoy it, no one I know does that, lego are for kids, there are better/more important things to do, I would be despised by many people I know or work with. And in spite of the usual set of existential questions (am I going to find them weird? Or are they going to find me weird? Both? Am I going to find us all collectively weird?), curiosity, excitement and confidence (fortunately) prevailed.

Stefan luckily was a cheerful and unassuming host and welcomed me warmly inside the tent (even gave us a Fantasia minifig!). Ballou34 wondered from which era I came from not knowing how to tag in Instagram (but nonetheless took the time to explain). The same applied to my late discovery of the use of reflectors, scene settings, ancillary lighting, paste-to-fix any recalcitrant figures in improbable positions.

Beside our joyful gatherings around urban objects and places, another world of interesting scenes was taking place (worth a small video clip): the reactions of the outside world (locals, tourists, crowds, youngsters, elderlies) and the interactions with us. Conversely I enjoyed the feeling of being part of a group of (nice) people who shared some of my enjoyment in life: a place, some Lego, a camera – infinite possibilities. I felt empowered, unashamed in my quirky hobby.
I remember this Indian fellow visiting Hamburg asking me if my kashyyyk troopers had an in-built wifi chip or whether I was just and simply stuck in plastic. I was indeed.

I still have no clue how a DSLR camera or Lightroom work but I believe I came back with something as precious (at least to me): inspiration (with a smile). Ballou34 mentioned in his post of last month the fellowship of the brick and it is exactly how I felt. I always like Sip calling itself an art collective. I would stop taking pictures to look around at the rest of the group, smile and tell myself aren’t they amazing these guys laying on the ground trying to make the best of their ideas and shots. Lego are such a fun pretext to plunge into minutes, hours or days of artistic self-exploring, discovery, – and within a toy safari – sharing (especially around a fresh beer after a long day).

The group …

So dear brick fellows from Hamburg and the rest of the world thank you for expanding my minuscule but growing experience of life and hope to see you very soon.

Yours Faithfully
IG, FB, Flickr: jeandesirekatanga

Benny Boat

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7 years ago

Thanks a lot for sharing your wonderful story! It’s so great to meet the persons with the same interest in the real life before making your way to the world through some social media ways! I really enjoyed your post and can’t wait to see the development of your wonderful creative hobby!
Kind Regards,

7 years ago

Thanks a lot, I’m very glad! Have a great day! :-)

7 years ago

Ha! So true! Wishing someone had captured people reactions to those making their way through the city taking pictures of children’s toys…- Thank you, J, for your wonderful words, bringing back memories of that weekend instantly ;-)
And it perfectly shows: Once you overcome your doubts you’ll get a chance to meet respectful people who guarantee that this isn’t strange at all!

7 years ago

Lovely story indeed!! It’s definitely great to meet other persons who share the same interest!
But, most important thing, another Benny Fan, I see…
See you around on Flickr and IG! ;-)

7 years ago

J – what a sweet post! Love captured the camaraderie and nonjudgmental attitude found at every Stuck in Plastic gathering. Or really at any toy photographers meet-up. Im glad you took that leap of faith and found yourself in Hamburg. And yes Stefan is the best and most welcoming host ever! I hope to meet you at one of these events next year! Cheers! S

Leila @brickandmordor
7 years ago

Great to read your story, J! Glad you decided to brave it and to hear that you enjoyed it. Nothing wrong with using your camera phone for this hobby! Your images are wonderful and the perspectives are really interesting. Looking forward to more!

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