Je Suis Charlie

If being part of this toy photography community has taught me anything, it is that we are all connected. We are one planet, one people with many of the same hopes, dreams, cultural touchstones and pastimes. The reaction to the horror that was yesterdays news was played out in the toy community just like it was everywhere else.

I am proud of my fellow Lego photographers who posted their own poignant responses to Wednesdays tragedy.  TheCourtous created the following image that was reposted by many in the community.

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“Don’t be afraid” by TheCourtous

I have posted before about playing with toys while the world burns around us, but this time I want to make a stand. I am tired of being afraid to say what I think. I don’t want to feel like the terrorists have won because we are the silent majority.

When I see a comment like this:

“Must we bring Islamic State into the lego community? Nice pick and caption but lets keep it politic free please. Or God only knows what would happen.”

I know the answer is a resounding “Yes! If not now, when?”

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Je Suis Charlie by AdultFanofLego

I know the threads that bind us are tenuous, but they are there. If we can find a connection through Instagram and our mutual love of toys I know we can find them over other issues. Now more than ever it is important for us to reach across to our fellow humans (no matter what their beliefs or their religion) and extend the hand of friendship.  Our community is filled with children and young adults; we must show them that there is a better way. A way filled with tolerance, understanding and a willingness to put aside our differences for the sake of the larger community which we all belong, it’s called humanity.

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Je Suis Charlie by MiniFigLife

Personally I don’t care what a persons religious beliefs are, I support everyone’s freedom to say what is on their mind in a respectful way. But I can’t turn over the world I currently inhabit to my kids without something changing. I hope that we can learn from our experiences here within this community and change the world around us, one toy photographer at a time.

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Je Suis Charlie by HLMLego

As we continue to grieve for the families of those who lost their lives on Wednesday, January 7th I hope you will join with me to help strengthen our bonds and raise our voices in protest. Enough is enough.

Thank you for listening.

~ xxsjc

If you have any comments about the Lego communities reaction or your own to these latest tragic events, please share them below. The more we talk, the more bridges we can build. 

Rules of Addiction

When I started with Flickr in June 2009 I quickly made a set of rules for myself. This was a simple little thing I did just to keep me from going too far with a hobby, narrowing it down a little. I am an illustrator by profession, that’s my dayjob, someone said that making illustrations is “creating art under circumstances” ( I couldn’t find the exact quote, I’ll edit a link in if I find it). I like that definition and I like working under circumstances. With my set of rules I created the most convenient circumstances myself.

My rules for shooting plastic:
1: Don’t buy items to shoot, use only what you already have.
(I broke this when I realized I was stealing toys from the kid.)
2: Use only materials you have at home.
(Until when we ran out of baking powder and I had to buy some more.)
3: Do not photoshop the photographs.
 (This means no added elements from other frames, no photomanipulation. Only adjustments to colour and contrasts and removal of supports and dust.)
4: Don’t force it, have fun!
(If you don’t feel like photographing, don’t.)

Yes, I broke all the rules eventually but I played by them for a long, long time. The rules challenged me to find anything interesting closer than I probably would have otherwise. Experimenting with stuff already in our home was a lot of fun, more fun than, say, going online and ordering a ton of artifical snow. Granted, a ton of artifical snow can be fun but it is not rewarding, there is no heureka moment in that. I liked how the process was very informal and loose.

Did all this help me to become a better photographer? I do not know, but it made the process a whole lot more meaningful.

Later on I added a few more rules after the originals were given some room:
5: Stick with Star Wars original trilogy, if possible.
    (Still not to interfere with the kid’s toys too much, adds to the “circumstances”.)
6: Do not count likes
(It draws your attention to the secondary things and drains fun from the fun. Deviation to the rule: I used to be a stats junkie, it’s easier now.)
7: Be honest, never lie to your audience.
(Do not make yourself look better than you actually are by pretense, don’t wear other people’s ideas as your own.)

Everything I post goes through a process of passing all these rules but it’s not really a conscious thing, I don’t think about it. I become aware of the rules if I am about to cheat with them. With rule #3 cheat only with something I know I actually could have achieved in-camera, only I was too lazy to rig and tune it. Rule #2 has been seriously violated with some of my recent purchases. It’s shameful, really. Almost.  :)

Basically, if it’s fun, I may bend the rules a little (rule #4), but I try not to.

A-Cheat-Within
This one has a moon sized cheat in it. I can live with that.

 

The Runaway Bunny

I try to not talk about projects I am working on until they are completed. There is this weird phenomena that takes place if you talk about a project too much…it never happens. At least that is my personal experience. This is why I am just now telling you about my all consuming fall 2014 project: recreating Margaret Wise Brown’s classic children’s book The Runaway Bunny using Lego photos that I took.

You may have noticed an increase in Lego bunny rabbit shots on both this blog and on my Instagram feed last fall and now you know why.

I was approached last spring to do a Lego photography book based on Herman Melville’s Moby Dick but that project fell through. Even though I was disappointed by this, it did inspire me to look for another similar project. I dismissed Moby Dick and several other books, both short and long, for a variety of reasons and eventually settled on The Runaway Bunny.

I set myself a strict deadline of December 1st for completion so I would have time to get it printed and wrapped up for my children by Christmas Eve. (I have found looming deadlines to be a good defense against the inevitable procrastination.)

I had a great time on this project and discovered some shots, like this one, were fun and easy to get.

The final photo from The Runaway Bunny where mother bunny offers her wayward offspring a carrot when he finally returns home.
“Have a carrot.”

While others, like this one, I chased for several months.

Mother bunny from The Runaway Bunny is fishing for her wayward son who has decided to be a fish instead of a bunny.
“I will become a fisherman and I will fish for you.”

If you were a recipient of my Best of 2014 Legography book you know that two of the images created for this project were in my top 12 for the year. I couldn’t have been more pleased with how my first completed book project turned out.

Here is my initial take away on the project:

  • Goals are good.
  • Complicated shots need to be pre-arranged before you hit the great outdoors.
  • Working within a specific frame work is creativly freeing.
  • Hand made books make awesome gifts.
  • The Runaway Bunny is not as well known as Goodnight Moon even though they are by the same author / illustrator team and have much in common.

Now that I am free from the constraints of this book project, my typical free form style of shooting seems rather boring and meaningless. I guess it is time to look around for another book project!

~ xxsjc

Do you have any suggestions for a book you would like to see recreated with Lego photography? 

Wikitoybox

Its hard to believe that the great Las Vegas Toy Photograper meet up is less than two weeks away! A small idea conceived amongst friends so many months ago is about to take place. Besides seeing old friends,  I am looking forward to meeting three long time Instagram friends. I have already talked about Captain Kaos and Krash_Override and today I want to introduce you to Ki Chen otherwise known as Wikitoybox. Ki is a breath of fresh air on Instagram. Not only does she take wonderful photos with her iPhone, she designs her own toys and is a positive voice within the toy community.

Ki has created her own line of resin toys around colorful poop. In a community dominated by guys I am sure you can image that these have been very popular. (I hear she will be bringing them with her to Vegas and I will have to pick up a few more.)

I Poop When I Steal by Ki Chen
I Poop When I Steal by Ki Chen

I am always impressed with what Ki can accomplish with her phone; she is a master of the photo edit. She knows when to use those specialty photography applications to benefit the overall image rather than overwhelm it.

I Swear it Wasn't Me! by Ki Chen
I Swear it Wasn’t Me! by Ki Chen

I find I am drawn to toy photographers that mix up their feeds with more than just Lego toys. There is so much happening in the collectable toy universe that it is fun to see what is new and has people excited.

Optimus Needs Help With the Level on Zelda by Ki Chen
Optimus Needs Help With the Level on Zelda by Ki Chen

Sometime you see a shot that is just plain beautiful on every level,  like this image of a dunny being painted by HO model railroad people. The lightening, sense of scale and short depth of field make this a really fantastic image; one of my favorites by Ki.

There’s Always Room for Improvement by Ki Chen

Of course it is not lost on me that Ki is one of the most respected members of the toy photography community. She is a wonderful photographer, dedicated toy designer and she commands the respect of her peers within the community through her gentle and kind nature.

Ki Chen is one of those amazing people who make the toy community a better place and I look forward to taking our online friendship to a new level.

~ xxsjc

Practice Makes Permanence

I want to thank Me2 for holding down the blog while I was distracted with real life. I certainly had grand ideas about posting once or twice during my travel week, but that never actually happened. What did happen was I practiced my craft…every day.

I went into this travel week with high expectations. With our group show just around the corner I was hoping for just one more killer image to include. As the week progressed I realized that the most important task at hand was not the perfect image but practicing my craft. I took the focus off the perfect image and focused on practicing what I love to do: macro toy photography.

My daughters piano teacher once said to her: “Practice makes permanence.” While this seems pretty obvious for learning the piano, it also works for photography. With practice you get faster at sizing up any outdoor location and lighting situation as a potential backdrop. I have also learned which mini figures work best for me; not every mini figure is created equally. Hopefully with more practice in the coming year those killer images will become more frequent.

As we move into 2015 I could talk about high flying new years resolutions, but honestly I think that simply continuing to practice my craft and push the boundaries of what I have already put into place will be challenge enough.

~ xxsjc

Did you make any photography new year’s resolutions?

If you did, is there anything we can do to support you?

Robot Sunset

A New Hope

2015 is slowly taking off and we had a fantastic private shoot last night with Darth and our Creative Crew in The Studio™for Lord Vader new selfie in 2015.
A shoot where we spent afterwards some time in the green room looking back  at  some of the adventures we head together across the years.

One great adventure that brought fond memories back with the complete crew was last-last years Xmas shoot (so two years ago) leading up to the fantastic fourteen post on Instagram:

A shoot that left great memories, and most probably one wide piece from this series will make it into our art show later on in March.

Darth was pretty convincing it should be him on the bike, while Lady Red thought she should be the one as she started the whole story with giving the letter to that mysterious bounty hunter in the first place.

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The Love Story - I

A discussion that did not come to closure yet, and we would be very interested to hear from you which one of the two you like best and why ? Looking forward to your thoughts here in the comments.

One thing the Crew was unanimous about was the need for another epic adventure even bigger and better coming to a theater near you.

So there is new hope for 2015 with epic adventures just around the corner and real live art expositions just a few months down the road, bridging the past and the future.

Taking plastic places.

There is another more personal bridge to make between the real live world and being stuck in plastic, but I promise you that is for our next post.

Stay tuned and let us know which one is your favorite widescreen. Lady Red or Darth on his bike.

Me2

Events™

While we are getting all prepped for the turn around of the year into the awesomeness of 2015 we decided to take our best wishes and good intents for 2015 to the next level and added the events module to (y)our site.

The first official big event upcoming is the Las Vegas Toy event organized by Shelly and Dinoczars mid January in Las Vegas.

But we want to do more with our events.

We want to connect photographers who are stuck in plastic around the world when they travel long and far or just around the corner so we can exchange some plastic. The very first opportunity added to the calendar is Me2 crash visit to LA in a week from now.

Are you in LA on Saturday 10 January and want to show Me2 around LA and take some cool plastic shots together ?

Now is your time.

Get in touch and before we know we meet in a week from now !

Best,
Me2

PS. This is an exclusive behind the scene blooper™ picture we selected for this event™ post, enjoy :)

A Vanilla Post

I was supposed to post to SiP today, I had a nice idea for it and all it would have taken was a moment to write it down. Easy, but, alas, I got caught with other things.

What happened was that I rebuilt an old Lego model just for fun yesterday. It was a motorized AT-AT Walker that had donated a lot of parts to other models over the years, I simply wanted to see it walk and look generally wonderful again. And, perhaps, compare it to the other two walkers we have.

The Three StoogesOnce built, walked and compared with, I had no choice but to put all three on a table and start photographing them. In fact, they were begging to be photographed together.

Hours went by and I got nothing. I actually gave it the first go yesterday, but I started over this afternoon and it didn’t go much better. The thing that helps when you keep banging your head to a wall is to keep pushing until something comes out of it. That something can be a nice photograph to post somewhere, or a closure in form of declaring the idea or concept as something I can not do.

I got a photo of the session today, it has a nice atmosphere to it, but it’s not the photo I was after. It’s missing the story that should be there.

I’ll be walking the walkers again some day soon, I’m not done with them yet…

The Three Kings

It’s now 3.15. am. over here and I really should be sleeping

 

Dornyika

Today was a buzzy day.

We started the day with an outdoor shoot attempt on the beach (not recommended with minus 10 and a fresh breeze from the seaside in), continued with some hot chocolate on the catwalk (no pictures either) and ended up counting plastic bubbles with Buzz to see who won the little crazy Xmas game of counting bricks.

Your response was overwhelming.

More than 70 answers were given across all our social media platforms from Instagram over twitter via Facebook to G+. The responses ranged from a few hundred to a few thousand.

Buzz did the count (and we recounted it twice) and ended up with 818 bricks in our little coke bottle (you see above how Buzz examines every single piece for its authenticity).

Both Dornyika and Iancockayne came closest with 800 bricks and so the innocent hand of Buzz had to take a second dip in the bowl and returned Dornyika as the one and only winner of our little Xmas game.

Congratulations Dorottya !

You  win an exclusive “I have been there” minifigure of Me2 and a signed 2014 Me2 Limited Edition booklet  in your mail box (just sent us your address details through the contact us form above).

And if you do not know @dornyika yet, do take a look at her feed as she has a great minimalistic LEGO feed, I really appreciate !

Merry Christmas from the Elven School of Witchcraft and Wizardry!

Who cares if it's already the middle of February? Today for #ElvesDay, @reiterlied tells us about his Christmas crossover project. Be sure to read his post on the blog!
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Do you want to join us at our #SiPgoesCapetown exhibition grand opening party?

Then connect to our Instagram account where we will be live from the Crust Cafe at 6PM CET.
We will give you a tour of the exhibition and spend some time with you.
See you tonight!

#StuckInPlastic #ToyPhotography #Exhibition
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Today @shtacyp tells us about the sporting event of the year, the Mount Clutchmore Winter Classic. Be sure to read her (e-)xtra review on the blog! ...

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Today, the second part of the #SiPgoesTT blog post on composition is finally out! This one was a collaborative effort between @_me2_ , @herrsm, @bevvypix , @chrisrosephoto and @reiterlied.

Looking for new ways of understanding composition and looking at your own images? Then be sure to check it out. (And the post also contains the master challenge on composition for #SiPgoesTT)
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Today on the blog, @by_a.n.n.a looks at the new DC LEGO Collectible Minifigures. Be sure to check it out! ...

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For the past months, we've tried to find a date and location for our next toy safari. We finally settled on a time and place. It will be on the first weekend of September, from the 3rd to the 6th... Can you guess which city we chose? Let us know what you think it is in the comments! (If you want to find out you can check the blog... But no spoilers in the comment 😉👍) ...

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Welcome onboard the International Space Station:
It's a fabolous day to be looking forward the next LEGO Ideas release. Read @bevvypix ' review on the blog.
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We're going to South Africa!

From February 6th to February 18th, we'll have a pop-up exhibition at Café Crust in Cape Town. If you're in the area, be sure to come and say Hello. And if you're not, you can still join with the power of the Internet when we'll live stream the event on February 6th at 6pm local time.
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Today on the blog, @reiterlied tries something a bit different and shares his opinion about the Disney theatrical releases of 2019. Be sure to check his review! ...

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Sunday evening it is in Europe. Still we have some great news to share with you on the blog.
#TwentyTwentyEight
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Twenty-Twenty has started.
And we are ready to embark on a new creative challenge together with you. This time we go slow cooking. Acoustic one could say. But with a twist. A technical twist. One that may invoke some amplifiers. And electricity. If you want to join in the fun then head over to the blog (link is in the bio) and discover the first homework at #SiPgoesTT and leave a comment here 👇
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Congratulations !

Me2