It was the 15th of June, around 32°C in the shade in Brno. I was walking in the city center and searching for ideas and photos during a photomarathon.
What is a photomarathon?
This one was organized by Zoner Press, which is a publishing house. In the morning, they drew 5 words, which the participants should photograph in 5 hours in the order they were drawn. The words were emotion, game/play, color contrast, zebra and drought/dryness. (It’s a bit complicated to translate because of the possible wordplay in Czech.)
Before the time ran out, the participants were supposed to bring their SD card that contained only the correct photos in the correct order, a photo of their registration card in JPEG format and nothing else. The photos could be edited only in camera.
The idea is to make the process as simple as possible, photography in its “purest form”. The photos then were rated based on the correspondence to the word, imaginativeness/resourcefulness, originality, technical quality. They are rated by a jury. I have no idea how many people were part of the jury or who they were. It was at least the two organizers that I met on the site, but also some that rated remotely, from what the present organizers said.
I was thinking about doing the photos one at a time and only start thinking about the next one after I finish the current one. But I feared that I wouldn’t have enough ideas and will get stuck on a word. So first I sat down on a bench to think about it and take some notes.
For the first word, emotion, I was thinking about maybe happy? Or sad? Is love an emotion? Maybe a minifig with some emotional face? And I thought then – wedding!
That’s full of emotions! Such a shame I left my wedding minifigs at home. So I looked at what I brought and found the princess minidoll from The LEGO Movie 2 in nice pink dress. I used Hans Christian Andersen as the groom. And of course, someone has to wed them! So I added Snape’s body with a simple head. And you can’t even see that he doesn’t have yellow hands! It’s not the best photo ever, but I thought it works. Which gave me hope that I can actually finish this.
For game/play, I was thinking about using my two dinos playing with a ball, but I didn’t find one in my toybox. What I found were musical instruments – a guitar and a violin. So it was decided, my dinos would play the guitar and the violin. This made me chuckle and put me in the right mood for the rest of the shooting.
Color contrast was hard. I wanted to use a black & white minifig or a teddy bear with something colorful… I was thinking about a bright blue wall that is close to my home, but a bit far from the city center.
By this time I was still in Denisovy Sady, which are terraced gardens right by the train station. Very pretty, good view, but not very colorful on a hot summer day. I decided to walk the main street and if I didn’t find anything, I would take the tram home and take the photo with the blue wall. (And also have lunch and take the minifig I need for the last word).
There was a traffic nostalgia event in the main square! The whole square was full of old buses and trams that were polished and cleaned to a very bright and shiny look. This was what I was looking for! I went inside one of the trams, with the old type of bright red and yellow plastic seats, and took my photo.
Sometimes we call pedestrian crossing a zebra. But also anything with stripes would work for zebra. I wanted a crossing with a minifig. I learned that day that a minifig is too tiny to work with a real-world crossing. Even when it’s elevated a bit. So I was stuck. I went home for lunch and was a bit discouraged. There I talked with my husband and he suggested a piano! That’s a crossing more fit for a minifig!
For drought, I remembered a patch of sand in Denisovy Sady, so back to the city center! My time was running out, I had maybe 15 minutes to take the photo and then I had to rush to give my photos for rating.
After the marathon
After giving photos there was a group discussion participants could join. So I went. At first, they discussed some photos from one of the organizers, who was leading the debate. Then we moved to discussing the legal side of street photography, photographing buildings, people, some problems when photographing daisies… I didn’t expect to learn anything interesting there, but I did. I heard some of the stuff from a new point of view which was refreshing and useful. Now I really really want to take more toy photos with a wide lens!
At last, the time for the winner announcement came. We went to a different room, they let us wait and while we were waiting, they were showing us some Tom&Jerry Youtube videos, which was fun.
Here are the winning photos. There is a winner for each word and then three winners for the whole series. I would have liked to also see photos from other participants, but so far they have not published those. As you can see, I didn’t win. Seems that without black&white I didn’t stand a chance :D
What I learned
My takeaway from this experience is that the challenge was fun and pushed me and I would do it again. Which also reminds me of the running #sipgoes53 challenge, which I wanted to do, but life got in the way and I kind of stopped.
I talked with some (non-toy) friends about this and they would like to do our own challenge like this. Select a few words, set a deadline, go take photos, compare. We were thinking about doing a day project or maybe a summer project… I think these shorter projects are better for me because they keep the motivation high and the dopamine and serotonin shot from completing work closer.
Have you ever participated in something similar? What was your experience? Did you use toy photography for that challenge?
Having fun with little pieces of plastic in Czech republic and anywhere else. Prone to random dancing.