Citizen Brick

I love Lego but sometimes I can’t assemble the right mini figure for my next photograph. That’s when its great to have the option of turning to a third party supplier like Citizen Brick .

Obviously Citizen Brick isn’t for everyone. Their custom mini figs tend to live on the wilder side of the tracks than your typical brick citizen. For example you can purchase the cast of Breaking Bad as well as the complete cast of Game of Thrones if that is you’re thing. 
Personally I love this fellow pictured above who is so aptly named the “Ink Enthusiast”. He fills a void in my collection that Lego hasn’t been able to fill. Not all Citizen Brick’s figures are this “adult”, they also have a super cute collection of cub scouts. I am pretty sure one of these will find its way into my son’s stocking this Christmas. 
So next time you are looking to spice up your mini figure collection, stop by the fine folks at Citizen Brick. While you are their, don’t forget to check out their excellent selection of zombie heads and custom tiles.

Have a great weekend and I hope you have time to play with some bricks!

~ xxsjc
Do you have a favorite 3rd party supplier of custom accessories?
Do you think Citizen Brick have taken their customs too far for a child’s toy?

Have You Started?

Have you started editing your photos for the Best of 2014 Photo Challenge?

I sat down last night and narrowed my choice down to 20 images, seven of which are solid choices.  Not quite the 12 that Ansel talked about, but I will take it. As I begin to choose the last five images that will round out my top 12, I keep thinking about this quote:

“It can be a trap of the photographer to think that his or her best pictures were the ones that were hardest to get. – Timothy Allen

This is definitely an editing trap I have fallen into before. It is hard to eliminate images from a group that you worked hard to get. It is so easy to get wrapped up in an image emotionally and not see clearly how it can strengthen or weaken the whole. For me, I am often entranced by a certain aspect of an image, a compelling detail, that it is hard to see it within the context of the group.

But then this is why editing is hard.

The other by product of this exercise is that I am seeing relationships I was not aware of. So many of my favorite images are taken near or in water it is almost comical. If you are familiar with my past work this makes a certain amount of sense. I also noticed my favorite images tend to be rather dark, not the usual playful imagery that you expect from Lego photography. I will have to consider lightening the mood with my final choices.

Once I lay out my book with its final 12 images I will be adding text to each image. I want you to know why I chose each image and what makes it special to me. I hope you will consider adding similar explanations in your book.

I look forward to seeing what you choose and why.

~ xxsjc

Have you signed up to partake in the great Best of 2014 Photo Book Swap?
Does your book have a theme beyond “Best of…”?
Please let us know if you have any questions, we are here to help. 

I adore this image which automatically makes it completely suspect. 

Who Inspires You?

The hardest thing about keeping going with any project, be it toy photography or landscape photography is the concept of challenging yourself. Instagram is filled with people who take essentially the same photo over and over again.

I know I can be accused of this as much as the next person. 
So I want to take a moment to talk about someone who seems to be challenging himself on a daily basis: +east mountain.  Even though he is nearing the end of his 365 daily photo challenge he continues reinventing his photography style. Sure you can attribute some of this to his desire to master the basic concepts of photography since he is relatively new to the hobby, but most people do not take it to this level. 
If you look back through his photos he has played with different lenses, natural elements like fire, water and sand, as well as experimenting with a variety of lighting styles. Just thinking about the amount of effort that goes into these shoots is a bit mind blowing, but at the same time I am inspired to push myself in a similar way. 
Ok maybe I’m not going to start melting my mini figures, but I know I am capable of accomplishing more than what I am doing. 
It is easy to look to the likes of Avanaut for inspiration but don’t stop there. There is as much to be learned from the new kids like East-Mountain, as from the masters.

~ xxsjc

Who inspires you?
How do you keep your work looking fresh?
Do you have any inspirational tricks you can share with the community? 

To Each His Own Way Be True

It is a real pleasure sharing this blog with two people I have tremendous respect for: Me2 and Avanaut. We each bring different insights and working styles to a subject we all love: photographing toys.

Recently Avanaut talked about is penchant for re-editing his photos, months or years after he took them. Considering how much effort he puts into his set ups I can see the value of looking at older photos to see if any gems fell through the cracks.

Me2 also talked about his need to spend days or weeks on an idea before it comes to fruition. To me this is consistent with the elaborate stories he constructs around his subjects.

I am here to tell you that there is another way.

When I pack my mini figs for an outing I will take 20-40 mini figs with me always keeping in mind my destination and their relationships. I put some thought into variouse scenarios that seem interesting, grab a few accessories and head out into the big wild world. I never know what I am going to come back with. I like to see what my muse will present to me in terms of interesting lighting and macro environments.

This photo is a prime example of a character I have been sitting on for awhile. I love Mrs Puff but her body shape and lack of movement has me stumped. When I was crawling around on some lava rocks recently, this channel presented itself and I put Mrs Puff on one end and my camera on the other. Honestly it is my favorite photo from this latest trip. I feel I can put Mrs Puff aside now, I have done her justice and I will move onto one of the other 300+ characters I have yet to photograph.

Frankly I shoot from the hip, not for instant gratification, but because the unexpected is more interesting to me. I like to think of it as cooking. I have a few different ingredients that I mix together and I never quite know what is going to come out of the oven (read “camera”).

So don’t worry if your photographs aren’t pre-visualized or you don’t have elaborate sketches that you are working from. That method works great for some people, but there are many different ways to achieve your goal. You just have to keep shooting until you find the method that works best for you.

~ xxsjc

Hiding from Sponge Bob


Bacon is good for me !

Another roller-coaster week it has been here on Stuck In Plastic.

A roller-coaster of great posts, great feedback, great emotions, and some other awesomeness around the corners.

We grew this week a fantastic 200 new friends on facebook. Thank You.

We grew to an average of plus 200 reads a day here on Stuck In Plastic in the last few weeks. Thank You.

We launched a fantastic book exchange program for your Xmas tree and you guys and gals are selecting you epic twelve. Thank You.

We outed ourselves and a few more in being Stuck In Plastic Photographers, and you all got very engaged. Thank You.

We looked back at our own Stuart and what responsibilities come with being Stuck In Plastic.

And some more …

A roller-coaster week of great epicness, awesomeness and a little bit of bacon along the lines.

A week of exploring our boundaries and getting ready for the Xmas season.

Another week of being with You, exploring with You, sharing with You …

Thank You !

You can still sign up for our epic twelve book exchange here.

What topic would you like to see addressed before Xmas ?
What do you feel is missing here on Stuck In Plastic ?
What do you really like and want to see and hear more of ?

Who’s Your Stuart?

I’ve received the most wonderful feedback on my photographs over the years. All, and I mean all feedback has been supportive and positive and it makes me very happy. I’ve been very lucky with this, I know.

There’s one particular comment that I have kept in my heart because, having been in Flickr for just a few months by the time, it just took my breath away. I keep a screengrab of it on my desktop as a reminder of the fact that you never know who’s out there. Here, take a look:

I do not know who or where Stuart is, I can only hope he had a great time with his Lego. Stuart is often on my mind when I write the little stories to my photographs, for me he’s forever ten years old and you can’t write just anything to a ten year old. This is why you do not find sex, violence or foul language in my photostreams. There is a certain amount of responsibility that comes with a Stuart, I try to keep that in mind at all (upload)times.

But, you know, that is just my Stuart. Do you have a Stuart?

How long does it take you ?

Awesome. Lets have some FUN

While some of us seem to have a challenge with coming out of the closet and openly share their passion for being stuck in plastic, I have a complete different question for you to kickstart the weekend.

How long does it take you ?

How long does it take you between getting a great idea and putting it out there for all of us to enjoy ?

Avanaut just shared recently it can take him years to get it all right but I am more interested in the idea to first edition question.

In the past, it took me between a few minutes (time to take a selfie) to maximum a few hours to get it all right, shot, edited and out there in the big pool of instant gratification, ready to receive likes.

Today it takes days or even weeks (dare I say months) before an idea is put into a creative shoot and published as a first edition.

I would not be capable of running a 365 project at all.

Is it age, maturity, lack of time or just plain rebellion against the here and now instant gratification.
I dont know but it is for sure not a writers block or an artistic lack of ideas.

It is just … it takes more time.
It needs more thought.
It needs planning.
It needs lightening, stagehands, and the full Me2 Crew
It needs to be pixel perfect on FX mode.
It needs more time …

So, how long does it take you ?

Have you ever went to great lengths to take a shot and then eventually decide to NOT publish it ?
Have you ever taken a piece of paper and drawn out the complete scenery ?
Have you ever considered getting a smoke machine into your scenery ?
Have you ever considered renting additional glass (read lenses) because the once you have dont support the right idea ?

The Bone Clocks

This week I have been lucky enough to step away from my everyday responsibilities and sit on a sandy beach. When traveling I always take a few mini figures and a good book.

I am currently reading the new novel by David Mitchell, author of The Cloud Atlas. About half way through the book I come across this:

Nothing attunes you to the beauty of the quotidian like a man who decides not to kill you after all. Scoop up the detritus I knocked to the floor: my pen holder, a plastic spoon, a memory stick, my Lego Man collection. Juno, Anais, and I send one another packets as jokey presents. I’m up to five: spaceman, surgeon, Santa, Minataur–bugger. Who am I missing? I’m on my knees hunting for the fifth among the power cords when my laptop trills.  ~ excerpt from The Bone Clocks: A Novel by David Mitchell

Wow! I kept reading and soon find out that the missing figure from his collection is actually a significant plot point.

Has the Lego collectable mini figure just moved out of interesting sub culture and hit main stream? Or was it just a matter of time before this popular toy would get name checked by a hugely popular contemporary author? Whatever is going on here I feel that something important just happened.

I just so happened to have packed the figure mentioned in the book that went missing from the desk. As my husband is always quick to remind me, there is no such thing as a coincidence.

~ xxsjc

Have you ever come across the Lego mini figure mentioned in literature before?
Do you think this is a significant event or am I just too close to the subject?

Say It Loud…

It’s not easy being a toy photographer. 

If you happen to take photos of Lego outside I’m sure you’ve had a few awkward moments. You know the ones I’m talking about, the ones where people look at you in that weird “What are you doing?” sort of way. Or how about the time you told your friends (or family) that you photograph toys and there only response was a blank look. 

We have all been there. 

Instead of feeling ashamed of this wonderful hobby, each one of these interactions is an opportunity to engage, educate and  hopefully create a connection with a like minded individual. The trick is finding a way to connect in a way that is both accessible and informative.  

I’ve been rather glib when people ask me what I do, I simply respond that I take pictures of Lego. They immediately give me that blank look indicating a total lack of understanding until I whip out my iPad and show them. Generally their response is enthusiastic and we have a great conversation. 

After reading “Show Your Work!” by Austin Kleon I realize I have to do a better job. I need to be respectful of my audience and myself by providing an answer that better describes what I’m doing, is brief and accessible. I was considering going with “I’m a bookkeep that takes pictures of Lego mini figures in the wild.” This is not entirely accurate but it would certainly start a conversation.

I’m proud of the toy photography community I am a part of. I want the world to know what an amazing art movement this is. So I am going to stop being glib and take more time to help people understand what is going on. 

In the mean time, the next time you’re lying on the ground and getting “that look” from some passerby, know you are in good company. 

~ xxsjc

Have you ever been stopped on the street and asked what you are doing?
Do you feel foolish lying on the ground to get that perfect shot?
How do you describe your photographic hobby to you family?

A behind the scenes photo of me in action today.