Collaborations

Yesterday Me2 dedicated a post to one of our dearest community members Lyn Miller Lachman. Lyn has been one of the first and most supportive members our our community. Since Me2 and I are blogging newbies her advice has been appreciated. She is just one of the many unique people who we are happy to be #stuckinplastic with.

Today I want to talk about another interesting member of our community: Gordon Webb.

I first met Gordon in the G+ version of our Dark Room Forum where he posted images of his MOC’s (My Own Creations) and asked for feedback. He wanted to improve his photography so he could show off his creations in the best possible light. Gordon and I bonded over our mutual love of the Lego Galaxy Squad line and our mutual respect for each others work. (Gordon has the best Instagram tag for a builder: #instructionsareforwussies!)

After receiving such a great response when I posted a picture of one of Peter Reid’s Lego robot creations on Instagram, I have wanted to do a photo series of small robots exploring the world. This would be a chance to break away from traditional mini figure photography and bridge the gap between photographers and builders. Unfortunately I am not a builder, at least not yet. When Gordon posted a photo of Dutch on IG I fell in love with him and reached out to see if he would be open to a collaboration. Lucky for me he was!

I am excited about this project and I wanted to share it with you. StuckinPlastic is a unique community with lots of opportunity to work together and support, nurture and feed off each others ideas and energy. As you become familiar with our new home I hope you will take the time to post a few photos in the forums and lets see what else we can develop together.

I am happy to be StuckinPlastic with you!

~ xxsjc

Dutch

For Lyn

For Lyn Miller-Lachmann

For Lyn.
One picture.
My thousands words for you …
Me2

Lynn-001-169

PS. For those of you who want to know the background, have a look at the comments of bridging the gap.

During a most interesting discussion Lyn wrote the following: “… but my decline in posting frequency comes from a calculation of where my artistic energies are best spent, and I know that I will never get to the level as a photographer that I am as a writer …” which really triggered with me the same observation. Why should I try to write a regular post when I know my writing skills will never be the same as my shooting skills. Why ? A question I will reserve for a later post.

The one picture that flashed through my mind when we were talking in the comments, was this shoot of Buccaneer Kidman I was editing for my significant twelves. A picture telling me more then a thousand words.

A picture for a great lady, whose books I should read one day !

A picture for you, Lyn.

Edward S Curtis

Photography is a wonderful medium that can be used for artistic expression as well as capturing a moment in time; a time that would be lost forever without this photographic record. Someone who understood this powerful truth was Edward S Curtis, a self-taught photographer working at the turn of the 20th century.

When Curtis moved to the Pacific Northwest from the American heartland he fell in love with the natural beauty of the area. He was a naturalist as well as a talented photographer. When he met Princess Angeline, a famous local character as well as Chief Sealth’s daughter, he fell in love with the idea of capturing the image of Native Americans.

More chance meetings by Curtis with the wealthy and well connected led to a life time of pursuing his passion of photographing all Native Americans before their culture vanished forever. He pursued his dream while crisscrossing vast distances of the continental United States while dragging along his 14” x 17” camera and the corresponding glass plates he exposed his images on. (Think of that the next time you complain about your “large” DSLR camera).

I realize his methods are often criticized, and the authenticity of the subjects are brought into question, but without his efforts we wouldn’t even have this much of a record. The images he captured are simply beautiful.

If you want to read one account of his life please check out Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis. If you visit Seattle you can stop by Chihuly: Garden and Glass where there is displayed 25 stunning Curtis’s alongside original Native American rugs and baskets. It seems our own local celebrity Dale Chihuly (read: famous glass artist) was inspired by the work of Curtis and the Native Peoples.
~ xxsjc

Today is Thanksgiving in my country. A day when we traditionally take stock of what we are grateful for, spend time with our families and remember our countries origin story.With that in mind, what are you grateful for?

If you would like to know what I am grateful for you can read this, this and this.
Have you signed up for the Best of 2014 Photographic Challenge? If not, sign up here!

Captain Kaos

In less than two months I will have the pleasure of heading to Las Vegas, NV, for a toy photographers meet up. When I started planning this event with my friends Dinoczars, Bricksailboat and +LEGO Wiiman I had no idea anyone would be interested in joining us.

So imagine my elation when one of my favorite toy photographers, Matt Rhode (otherwise known as  x_capatain_kaos_x) was one of the first to commit! Matt is one of the more interesting and best known characters active in the Instagram toy community. 
I’ve been following the good Captain for much of my nearly three years on Instagram. I’ve watched both his photography and storytelling skills grow. His mastery of the “flying shot” is nothing less than stunning. I think there are very few people who can make an inert bit of plastic look as alive as this guy can. 
His Stormtroppers are not the hapless stooges of Vader, but fun loving daredevils that live life to the fullest. Whether they are cliff diving or Para-Leafing they make the most of what they have (and I never doubt for a minute that they are actually doing all these things). His flying shots are a constant source of inspiration to me.

Successful Drop by Matt Rohde
Even though Matt has a wonderful cast of recurring characters, Stan the Stormtrooper, Frank from Donnie Darko and Gojira to name a few, my favorite is the Skeleton from Jason and the Argonauts. His quest to find Winter and slay him is priceless on every level: the staging, the story line, his never ending alcohol stupor all combine for pure poetry. I look forward to more crazy antics from this lovable character.

Why Me? by Matt Rohde

Of course it’s not all fun and games in Matt’s world, especially when the going gets rough. I can’t help but think his military background leads an authenticity to his battle scenes that few other photographers can match. I will admit his story lines can get too violent for my tastes (and the exuberance for the violence exhibited in the comments by his admirers I find a little disturbing), but I realize that this only reflects the world we live in. As I find myself retreating into my own form of magical realism it is good to know that there are other photographers willing to keep it far more real.
It will be interesting to see how we all get along when we meet up in Las Vegas. It is risky to take the anonymity out of our friendships, but I am sure that our mutual respect will carry us through. 
If you’re interested in seeing how this all plays out in person, feel free to join us in Las Vegas in January, we can always find room for one more. In the mean time head over the @x_captain _kaos_x on Instagram and check out his toy photography and all those beautiful stories in detail. 
~ xxsjc

Have you ever meet someone you have followed on Instagram and how did it go?
Who do you follow on Instagram that you would love to meet in person? 

Dinoczars

 
 
Why do I take photographs of toys?
 
For me, it’s pretty simple. There is a very brief and special moment that sometimes happens in my toy photography. If I’ve done everything correctly, I obtain realism. At least, enough realism to make a viewer pause for a second, look a little closer and ask “how’d he do that?”
 
I am trying to show dinosaurs in a realistic way. That’s pretty much the only thing I am consistently trying to achieve with my artwork. That is my goal and what I view as most important over everything else. That is my own measure of a successful photograph.
 
As I see it, there are 6 key components of toy photography to achieve a strong level of realism. They are; perspective, composition, lighting, depth-of-field, contrast and colors. To strike a strong balance between them is difficult to do and rewarding to achieve. I attempt ‘realism’ quite often and feel successful at it frequently enough to keep enjoying the process.
 
I share my photos on instagram (@dinoczars) and have a number of enthusiastic followers there. I also try to sell prints of my best shots from time to time in art shows and on my easy store (www.etsy.com/shop/Dinoczars). But both the fans on IG and the sales aren’t my biggest motivators, I was shooting dinos before I was on IG and if the app crashed tomorrow, I would still be shooting dinos. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the positive reactions I get from people, and that certainly is a motivator, but ultimately, even if they all stopped paying attention to what I do, I’d still be doing it. Because I love dinosaurs and being able to recreate them in a believable way is a joy for me.
 
Why do I take photographs of toys?
 
I guess it boils down to this: I saw Jurassic Park at a very impressionable age and have been trying to bring dinosaurs back to life, in my own way, ever since.
 
 
 

Legojacker

The Poetry of the Streets

There is

a thrill to walking
the empty city
at dawn,
plastic hidden,
feeling the cold
biting your neck
racing the morning light
as it creeps over the tops
of the buildings.
There is a quiet
that follows
as you slip into
dirty laneways
dripping with
brightly coloured
street art,
and walls
plastered
in the scrawl
of invisible souls.
Choose a spot.
Choose a figure.
Shoot.
Repeat.
At first
you may not see
the poetry
of the streets
alive with toys,
but then it comes,
tiny drifting souls
echoing desperate
cries and laughter
among the everyday debris.
Solitary
back alley visits
shooting
unfeeling plastic
by the gram
to feel
a shared humanity
in a world
turning faceless
by the second.
~ Legojacker

East-Mountain

“Welding” by Christoffer Östberg

Why?

Why do I spend the majority of my free time photographing small pieces of colourful plastic?
I first tried the ultimate answer to any question and realized 42 wouldn’t cut it at all (although going Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy with LEGO is definitely a challenge I have to visit someday, without panic). At first this question may have seemed easy enough and the answer self evident, but looking deeper, there’s nothing simple about it. What are our personal reasons for taking photographs? The answer is different for all of us. It can be as simple as love, a story that needs to be told, or a way to revisit childhood.
I have only been active in LEGO photography for a year now, and still my reasons have changed during this time.
My wife is a professional photographer and so I have always had her support and knowledge. I have also found many talented and inspiring photographers out there. Even though I have changed the way I photograph, Vesa Lethimäki will always stand as a source of inspiration. I promised always to challenge myself in photography and find new ways to play with these bricks, to cast away the innate limitations and bring them to life, sometimes with the help of the four elements. Especially close to my heart are those pictures involving fire and natural light. It’s about not having control of the situation, acting within a limited time frame with the camera to capture that which is unpredictable, be it fire, wind, water, or earth. What I appreciate about the unpredictable photographs is that they capture a moment in time, impossible or almost impossible to reproduce, triggering a realistic cinematic feeling.
Alexander Rodchenko said, “One has to take several different shots of a subject, from different points of view and in different situations, as if one examined it in the round rather than looked through the same key-hole again and again.” There are endless perspectives on the simplest of objects, and all of them tell a different story.
But there are other reasons besides the joy of drowning figures or setting them on fire. The main reason still stands: I am a father of two kids who love playing and being creative with LEGO. Much inspiration is drawn from them; the imaginary mind of the young knows no boundaries.
I found that even though I strive to make all photographic effects in front of the camera, with as little post-processing as possible, my goal now, almost a year later, is to express my emotional response to the scene. This has led me to modify the image captured by the camera. If I did not alter the image, I would be showing what the camera captured, not what I saw and felt in my head. Even so, I still work more with the camera rather than post-production software.
There is a story behind every image, and it is a great feeling when my family and I decide to frame one of them and hang it on the wall. The images may seem uninteresting to people, but to me they are a reminder of what ideas spawned in my mind and what emotion stirred them to life.
So why do I keep doing this, day in and day out, sacrificing sleep and mental health. I think George Bernard Shaw said it best: “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.I don’t want to grow old.

“Mono Wheel” by Christoffer Östberg

“River Crossing” by Christoffer Östberg

Avanaut

“The First Attempt” by Avanaut

Why do I take photographs of Lego? That is a question that took me by surprise a couple of weeks ago. I realized I had never asked myself that question before. Finding the answer was not easy, and it took a brief conversation with my wife for me to see it.

I am photographing Lego because I am a never-was movie director making a living outside the movie industry. That’s what my wife said, and it pretty much sums it up. See, I always loved movies. Star Wars, obviously, was huge, but many others as well, classics and contemporary. As a kid I made some movies myself with my dad’s Super-8 film camera, but film was expensive and my dad did not allow me to hack the camera’s filmport to produce a widescreen format picture. My movies were not very good; a widescreen wouldn’t have improved them, but still. I would build miniature sets and models to shoot, but the miserable camera could not focus on anything, since it had no macro. I grew up watching great movies and reading all about them. As a teenager I subscribed to Starlog, Cinemagic, and Cinefantastique. Cinefex, Premiere and Empire came along a little later. I’m soaked with that stuff; it’s in my DNA. I sometimes dream in 2.39:1.

That was a long time ago.

When I stumbled into photographing Lego Star Wars in 2009, I quickly connected to those times when I dreamed of making movies. I soon incorporated into the photos many of the cinematic ideas I had toyed with in my youth: widescreen, smoke, aerial particles, snow, blizzards, tight closeups and stories — the short stories that I like to write to go with the photos. I think this through via cinema; even my “Leftovers & Alternatives” album in Flickr is allegoric to a DVD “deleted scenes” extra. Lego is a perfect medium for all this. It’s playful, and there’s so much to choose from. You can have a minifigure on a piece of a coloured paper and still make a strong photo with that; yet there’s everything from a coffee cup to the Death Star to add, if you like.

This soon became a sort of creativity outlet, a free turf to express ideas I could not use in my day job as an illustrator. I see my photographs as single-frame plays I can write, produce, direct and shoot, but with characters and concepts I grew up with. In a way, I’m exploring an unfulfilled career path, but with Lego and present day tools, like the DSLR camera. It’s old but it’s new. It’s perfect!

~ Vesa Lehtimäki

“Breaking in the Tauntaun (Revised & Rejected) by Avanaut
“Last Ship to Rendezvous Point” by Avanaut

 

Balakov

Why?

Why do I take photographs of small plastic figures?

Well, I’m not doing it to change the world. Neither am I bringing attention to worthy causes, or highlighting injustice with my photographs. I do it for the same reason most people do most things, I do it for me. I want to take the sort of photographs that I’d like to see. I want to look at my photographs and say “that’s cool, I want to hang that on my wall.”

The limitations imposed by LEGO minifigures are a big part of the fun of photography for me. Bernard Suits famously defined a game as “the voluntary attempt to overcome unnecessary obstacles”. That perfectly sums up my approach to LEGO photography. I rarely use anything but standard LEGO smiling faces, or the expressionless helmets of Stormtroopers or Darth Vader. Trying to create an emotive photograph with a barely-posable, inert chunk of plastic is a challenge that I never seem to tire of trying to beat.

I take pleasure in the whole process. Combining ideas together within my own set of rules for what makes a good photograph. Finding angles and interesting lines in the viewfinder. Moving the composition around to balance the scene. Changing the lighting mood as I shoot. Playing with hues and saturation curves to add some life to the clinically clean digital capture. It’s all good.

Sometimes it works, and sometimes everything goes in the trash can. As I make more photographs I’m getting better at knowing when an idea doesn’t translate into a good photograph. Over the years I’ve tried to weed out poor qualities and work out what the essence of a good photograph is to me.

I read an excellent quote from Magnum photographer Constantine Manos today that summed up something I have never been able to eloquently put into words – “Try not to take pictures which simply show what something looks like.”. That’s why I take the photographs I do. To try and take LEGO photography above mere “photos of things” and make a story, evoke an emotion, or at least raise a smile.

Mike Stimpson

Autumn by Mike Stimpson

A guest post for stuckinplastic com by Mike Stimpson – mikestimpson.com
You can find Mike also on the following great social media platforms:
flickr
facebook
instagram
twitter


For the pure joy of the photograph.

Sometimes I want to just pull a Vivian Maier and take a million photographs and never do anything with them. Just take the photos, nothing more. There is nothing so satisfying or glorious as the physical act of taking a photo.

For me the processing, editing and printing is a one long down hill slide.

My husband is always telling me I take too many photos. Or maybe I just post too many? He says I am too prolific and so will never be able to sell my work because there is no scarcity. Maybe this is true? I don’t really know.

But I do know that taking them is were all the fun is, everything else after that is just work.

I think Vivian Maier was on to something.
While I continue to mull this over, I have some pictures I want to post to the internet.

When was the last time you actually enjoyed taking a photograph?
How much effort do you put into promoting your work?

If you have not checked out the story of Vivian Maier I urge you to do so. It is an amazing story of a nanny living in Chicago around 1950 who shot 1,000’s of photographs and never developed them. They were essentially discovered by accident in 2007 after she died.