Bridges

While Shelly is exploring the mystery fields of Big Inc. and wonders if the neocortex powers of the why are not overestimated and we all just need a daily dose of sugar to keep us motivated, I took a break from all these big questions of life and took a walk in the city.

A city walk I have to thank @legojacker for.
He reminded me on his IG feed of his participation downunder in the Melbourne InstaWalk. A walk to celebrate the 4th anniversary of Instagram (you can find the first pictures that started it all 4 years ago from the founders of IG).

I myself joined IG a year later (3 years ago !!!) and it has taken me on a photographic journey that is just starting.

A journey in the fields of digital lightroom and molded plastic.
A roller coaster from digital selfies (my very first post was a selfie on the ski slopes, taken with an iPhone 3) to epic stories of combined full frame pictures that took just a tad longer than a snapshot.

A voyage across galaxies, meeting new friends in the digital world to making a city walk in Stockholm just last weekend.

From smaller art galleries, long discussions on the Parisian boulevards and the peer recognition in the art scene in the fifties (or was it eighties) to IG, Flickr or 500px anno today.

The scene is shifting, the digital platforms are driving us in our journeys and explorations, yet there is nothing new under the sun.

We still want to connect, meet people, share our creative work and see that smile in the eyes when your image hits home and makes a connection.

And this is what Stuck In Plastic is all about.

Building plastic bridges between dinosaurs and young puppies alike.

Building bridges between a small and instant world full of plastic living in your mobile; taking the creativity to the streets of our cities. Exposing those photos on real walls, in a big format, for all of us to enjoy and connect.

Connecting our worlds, one brick at a time.

Grateful to Big Inc.

I won’t deny it has been a heady week and its time to come crashing back down to earth. But before I get mired down in the day to day of my life I want to take a moment to tell you all how grateful I am for the last week.

The week started with one of those days of a life time on my family road trip, many birthday wishes from my IG family and ended with another fun BrickCon with my photo buddies…it’s been an amazing week by any measure.

Nestled in this already awesome week was lunch with Julie Broburg a Lego representative from the Mothership. Julie’s job (as I understand it) is to act as a liaison to the AFOL community in all it’s forms, including us legographers. I find it amazing that there is a corporation out there that is interested in what their fans are doing and are willing to support, nurture and learn from that community. I know I can be very wary of Big Inc., but it is hard to disparage a company that values it’s fans as much as Lego does.

So thank you Julie for all you do for all the AFOL’s out there. If you get a chance to meet Julie in her travels make sure you go up and say: “Hi” and be sure to introduce yourself as a legographer.

Now I have one more thing to be grateful for: I am grateful to be photographing a great product and being a part of the Lego family in my own small way.

~ xxsjc

Fairy Godmother Julie

ps. I am pretty sure +Me2 had other ideas planned for todays post, but since he got caught up at his own Big Inc, you got me instead. We will pick up with our “Why” series later this week. Cheers!

Putting Social Back Into Social Media

#wwim10stockholm is the hashtag of choice amongst these fine folks behind me2
Today was the 10th World Wide InstaMeet (try #wwim10 out on Instagram)  with folks around the globe taking their cameras and phones alike out for a group walk and meeting other IG people in real live.  
I have always thought about joining a photowalk like these, but never took the deep dive into the unknown (I am most probably not the most social brick around).
Meeting strangers in real live. 
Shaking hands and exchanging lenses. 
A very nice experience I will for sure explore again.
 
After all, we are a social species. 
A species designed to connect and exchange creativity …

Why are these photographers walking in our picture – 50mm lens from another IG’r
People ?!?
Special thanks to:
@iggersstockholm for inviting us to the party, we for sure want to join again … 
@dasha for being such a great host and patiently herd the troops along …
@xxsjc for pointing out the obvious

Why? vs Motivation

“Why?”seems to be the question of the day. We have been asking it here on the blog and have been blessed by a handful of guest posts that answer that question from various view points. I was recently reading Beautiful Lego by Mike Doyle and it is filled with artist essays that directly tackle the question of “Why?” from a Lego builders point of view.

In all the answers I have been reading there are plenty of similarities: emotional connection with the audience, expression of an idea, new ways to interact with a beloved childhood toy and the element of surprise at seeing a familiar toy in a new way. But is “Why?” even the right question to be asking?

Sure it is, if you are marketing to a particular audience; it would be important to know what drives your audience so you can sell more product. But if you are an artist, the bigger and far more important question seems to me to be: “How do you stay motivated?”

How does the creative individual stay motivated to get up everyday and strive to make something new. How does an artist keep creating day after day in relative anonyminity. No matter what your creative tools may be (a camera, lego bricks or your words), how do you keep going day after day pursuing an activity that will bring you only intangible rewards?

Of all the responses we have had so far to the question “Why?” I think that Legojacker was the closest to addressing the more important question: How do you stay motivated?

~ xxsjc

So what DOES it take to stay motivated? 

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

Challenge yourself

I am heading home after a five day adventure in the Moab region of Utah.
Four of those days involved photographing lego with decidedly mixed results.
I realized I was outside my comfort zone shooting in harsh light, with rocks and sparse vegetation as my only textures. Photographing in the lush Pacific Northwest with its mossy rocks and dappled sunlight seems like a walk in the park by comparison.

I love this area for its grand views, it’s sure subtlety of color and apocalyptic nature.
But how in the world do I translate that to the macro world?

Let’s just say I struggled with decidedly mixed results. 
But isn’t that the nature of growth, to challenge ourselves?
To learn from our mistakes?
To play outside our comfort zone? 
I’m very excited by tomorrow’s guest post.
He’s an artist that continually challenges himself with different techniques and also challenges the viewer with his message.

Stay tuned! 

~ xxsjc

Aqua

An Homage – Michael Phelps – Gold Medal Summer Olympics 2004

The last few weeks we have had our fair share of posts here on Stuck In Plastic looking for the why.

A most interesting question and I really enjoyed reading back from Balakov over Avanaut to East Mountain and beyond, including the fantastic positioning of Padawans and Jedi alike by Shelly.

One thing all posts have in common is a love for the métier. 

A passion for telling stories, painting with light and taking it beyond the instant snapshot of images that are flooding our retina devices continuously.

When I returned from a full week in the catacombs of Big Inc, another picture was crossing my retina on the flight back in. A picture I saw a few weeks ago when I was enjoying a video interview on one of those intergalactic flights back and forth. 

A picture of Michael Phelps, US gold medal winner in the Summer Olympics 2004.
A picture by Dave Black.

A picture that forced me to take a deep dive into the pool this weekend and get beyond my comfort zone and get wet.

A refreshing experience, and for sure I felt it was worth doing

Now, would I stick these Speedo’s to the wall ?

Not sure, but we did have great fun …

The Speedo Look

And here is an extra Speedo shot of Julien for the other half of Stuck In Plastic as it is Shelly Birthday week and Shelly has a special relation with water …

Happy Birthday, Shelly !

Is it Worth Doing?

It seems Me2 isn’t the only one fond of posing questions: 

“Writer Henry James once proposed three questions you could productively put to an artists work. The first two were disarmingly straightforward: What was the artist trying to achieve? Did he/she succeed? The third`s a zinger: Was it worth doing?” ~ excerpt from Art & Fear

And that is the crux of the problem right there. I think I ask myself this question in some way everyday. Art isn’t about making pretty pictures, it’s not about perfect technique…art needs to go behind that. 

Certainly by embracing a small plastic toy peddled by one of the largest toy companies in the world makes me suspect my own abilities to move beyond these impediments. How do you challenge the status quo or capture a moment in time when you are essentially free advertising for Big inc.

Me2 posed a question awhile back that hit me hard and I’ve been unable to answer: would I exhibit my work in Shell Oil`s boardroom?  Honestly I don’t know?  I’d like to think I have high moral standards, but I’m a realist. Would it move my work to the next level? Could the work be a form of protest? Could I generate controversy and get the work to a larger audience? Or am I just fooling myself and selling myself to the highest bidder?

Right now I know I’m not challenging myself enough in terms of content. I’ve achieved my original technical goals and can confidently capture whatever scene I set up. But it’s time for me to take the next step and challenge both myself and the viewer. 

When I look at a finished image I want to be able to answer “Yes” when I ask that third question: “Was it worth doing?”

~ xxsjc

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