Challenge Yourself!

This month I took on a 30-day photo challenge offered up by one of the many toy groups on Instagram. I have always resisted the 365 photo-a-day project or other challenges. For one thing, I knew I did not have the discipline to post a photo a day and I also wanted to do my own thing.

But lately I have been feeling lost and unispired.

This challenge has been the perfect antidote. I spend most of my waking days rolling the various words around in my head to see what images come up. Basically this has become an all encompassing pursuit. Of course I will conveniently ignore the fact that I was stuck on the phrase “too much” for three days and be happy for the image I did eventually create. Sure I pulled a couple of photos out of my back pocket (so to speak) that have never seen the light of day, but thats ok. Some times images sit on my iPad until the right time to post reveals itself.

Personally if I end this challenge with nothing other than the image below, I will consider this a month very well spent. One good image in a month of shooting seems like a pretty good ratio to me.

So, if you are feeling blah about your photography or need a little poke in the butt – then sign up for a photo-a-day challenge. You might surprise your self, I know I did.

If you decide to take on a photo-a-day challenge, I will be there to cheer you on!

~ xxsjc

The Toys Are Alive

One thing that +Me2 and I agree on is that a good image is one in which the viewer makes an emotional connection with the image. As I look back through the last six months of my images I wonder if I can tell the difference. What makes one image of a small plastic person look more alive than another?

Is it the tilt of a head, is it particular movement of the legs, a small gesture of the curved hand or maybe just a trick of the light? It’s not like Lego is a particularly moveable, expressive toy figure. Yet some images seem alive while others just lie flat on the screen / paper.

+Me2 and I also agree on the importance of the eyes being in focus. Yet, not all the images I deem to have been successful include faces and in some the eyes are obscured. So while I know this is a part of the equation, I don’t think it is the answer.

This may seem like an inconsequential question but I have always approached my toy photography as an attempt to “bring the toys alive”. As a young girl my toys were very real to me. We chatted, they listened, they went every where with me and for lack of a better description, they were my friends. I want my viewer to feel what I feel while I document the lives of my little plastic friends.

As always some images are more successful than others and I cherish the ones that achieve that emotional element. I think I would be happy if I could crack the code and help people see how alive my little plastic friends are to me. Until I do, I will keep taking photos and hope people will connect with them as I do.

If you have any tips to help bring the toys “alive” I would love to hear them.

~ xxsjc

A Case Study On Why You Should Use Your DSLR

For those of you out there with lovely DSLR cameras who are loth to use them because they are too large, too bulky, too cumbersome, too complicated, to whatever… I would like to relate a story that I hope will persuade you to get yours out and make friends with it.

Last spring I was getting tired of taking Lego mini figure photos with my iPhone. Yes, it has a great lens and yes it’s easy to use and the editing apps and the uploading ease to social media where unparalleled. But I was growing dissatisfied with the results and I was quickly realizing that almost all the really great photographers I admire on Instagram, were using full size cameras.

So I broke down and pulled out my full size DSLR camera. And yes its big and bulky with a complicated interface that sometimes makes my head swim. Luckily all that time I had spent volunteering at KEXP was coming in handy. The boys at the station had definitely been teaching me a thing or two about photography, so this time, the interface was manageable. I tried a few different lenses and settled on an inexpensive 50 mm macro and off I went. I loved the results! Sharp, clear, great depth of field; everything I had been lacking with my phone. I was in heaven!

But like most new photographers I was concerned about storage and file size. I shot my images on the small RAW setting which gave me a file size of 5.5M or 2880 x 1920. I figured this would be more than adequate for my needs and would allow me to blow my images up to a nice size like 8″ x 10″ (2.4m x 3m). I had a wonderful summer shooting with friends in unusual places and since I was trying lots of different things I was having a lot of success.

When the fall rolled around and I had a chance to show my work in a gallery I quickly realized the images I had created, like the one below, were too small to create the images I wanted to show. I tried in vane to recreate the shots, but like all good images, there was a certain serendipity that was not going to be replicated. So I had to admit defeat, quickly create a few new images and move on knowing I was leaving some of my favorite images on the so called cutting room floor.

So the lesson is shoot big, shoot for the future and know that as you are learning and enjoying the photographic process you will eventually capture great images. And wouldn’t it be a shame if that image was on your phone or a small compressed file that didn’t allow you to work with it as your other photographic skills grew?

So get out your full size DSLR’s, shoot on the largest RAW setting you have and invest in a good storage device (preferably with a back-up system). Because you are not only shooting for today, you are shooting for the future…and who knows what opportunities will come your way.

– xxsjc

Buy Two Wookie Burgers …

Are you looking for an exclusive Art piece to make that wall of your board room or penthouse flat just perfect ? 
The easiest is to get a Wookie burger ordered and get an exclusive limited edition signed Me2 print to adore your walls.
A Wookie burger may not be in your sweet spot, but don’t worry, you still have a chance to win one of the exclusive prints Me2 is giving away with Easter …
Just go over and like #stuckinplastic on Facebook and you automatically enter the great Easter egg hunt … without hurting any Wookie in the process …
Here is the full background story

The Green Room is Humming

I can’t tell you how thrilled +Me2 and I are that several awesome fellow photographers have joined our Green Room, introduced themselves and metaphorically lashed their boats too ours. It feels great to begin this journey, where ever it will lead us.


The door is still open for any like minded photographers to join. Check out the Green Room and see who your fellow travelers will be. It’s a chatty and varied group. 


In the mean time I hope you will give some thought as to what you would like to be doing with your photography that is not Instagram / internet related. Would you like to learn to print your images? Would you like to exhibit your work? Are you interested in selling or licensing your work? Would you like editing or shooting tips? Do you need help setting up a web site? 

Please leave your comments below and I can focus upcoming blog posts based on your interests. 

– xxsjc

The Green Room …

We find our Fellowship™  ashore in the Stockholm Archipelago discussing the Stockholm Syndrome and the Big Blue Marble in great detail. The Fellowship™  is trying to answer the question some of you have been asking here, on twitter, email, phone, smoke signals and even snail mail:

“How can you actually join this #stuckinplastic …”

And so both Shelly and myself patiently awaited the consulting advice of The Fellowship.

And here it is …

Simple, straightforward and fully inline with number 42 and the KISS principle.

Find #stuckinplastic on G+
Join the G+ community we created.
Go into the green room, and make your (in)formal introductions.
Include a representative picture in your post (we are after all about photography)

Et voila, you entered the green level of #stuckinplastic and can call you a proud member of our SeaCow™ Crew (*). 

No strings attached, a small step in getting completly stuck in plastic and the first step in reaching the next level.  

So who is first to post in our green room ?

(*) While Ye all are signing up in the green room Shelly and me are working on how we can best virtually connect in the coming days based on your introductions …

The Big Blue Marble

My favorite chapter in Steal Like An Artist is “Geography is no longer our master”. Truer words could not have been published. Only in a world where we can connect socially on so many different platforms that your head starts spinning if you try to name them all, can you make friends all over the globe. Only in this crazy internet focused photography community would I be lucky enough to find a like minded friend on the other side of the world. (Hi +Me2!)

The internet has introduced me to so many great toy photographers who have influenced me over the last several years like Avanaut, Me2 (Again with that guy!), +Alessio Billi and Legojacker. Each, in their own way, they have shown me what the photographic possibilities could be. I have the world wide web to thank for connecting me to these amazing people who have all helped me to be a better photographer.

When I met with the writer Lyn Miller-Lachman (another IG friend) this past February she told me something I have really taken to heart. That we need to make connections beyond ourselves with other platforms and other people if we want to be heard in all the noise created by the internet. By creating a web of connections we are all made stronger for these bonds. Think of it like this: we are all in our own boat, but if we lash them together we will be bigger, stronger and hopefully more visible. Ok, maybe she didn’t say all of that – but that is what I heard. (please forgive me Lynn if I twisted your words!)

So yesterday Me2 asked if there were any like minded photographers out there who are interested in joining this arts collective we call Stuckinplastic and lashing their boat to ours. The silence was deafening. Maybe we asked too soon? Maybe we haven’t been clear about our aims? Maybe there are only two people on all of the IG toy community who are interested in taking their photography off the internet and into the real world? I don’t know, but we will occasionally keep asking until someone bangs on our open door.

In the mean time I will continue to nurture and be inspired by my curent friends as well as find new people to connect with on twitter, flicker, Instagram, Google+…

– xxsjc

The Stockholm Syndrome

While Shelly is obviously struggling with the Imposter Syndrome and is rightfully exploring the inner workings of the meaning of live, art, photography, plastic and faking it all, I feel more close to home (ouch, one of my long sentences).

I like to sympathize with the Art crowd out there (they have soup after all) and just stick the label of Stockholm Syndrome on my back and move on.

I agree to be an arrogant Artist™in the 21st century.

Art in the 21st century is still very much the same as it was 25 centuries ago. The means have changed and the world has turned flat, and we moved on from binary art to (the next level) of binary art, yet we are still asking the same questions and researching the same inner workings of the big bang.

This does not mean we are imposters as we explore our boundaries and see where we are stuck in plastic together with you.

And this is what this post is all about.

Finding you.
Yes You™.

Regardless whether You are close to the Imposter or Stockholm Syndrome, if You™feel you can be that partner in crime here at Stuck In Plastic and join Shelly and me in our journey of conquering the world (phase one, Universe is following in a second stage) and join us in our Art™collective where we try to find our place, do speak up. It is about You as an Artist™, as a Photographer, as a brick stuck in plastic … and about Us™as a collective (pun intended to that other strange collective called Pink Floyd).

So You™wanna join OurJourney ?

(ok there is no official solicitation form, but that is part of the journey and You™know how to contact
Us™)



 

Fake It ‘Till We Make It

I’ve been a photographer for a long time; some might even accuse me of being an artist. I don’t like labels, so I will continue to resist these labels and settle for being just a photographer. But one thing has remained constant throughout my life as a photographer: the struggle to create art. Even after 30 plus years I still struggle with the question: “Am I a real artist?”

As I was reading Steal Like an Artist, I realized chapter two had some pretty insightful things to say on this phenomena. Even if you follow there advice and look to your heroes to study, copy, emulate, attribute, transform, remix their influences until your source material becomes your own. Even if you do all of this successfully, then what? If you are like me you may still feel like a fake. I ask myself all of the time: Am I a REAL artist?

It turns out I am not alone in this feeling and they even have a name for it: impostor syndrome or the “psychological phenomenon in which people are unable to internalize their accomplishments.” It means that feeling like a phony, a fake, a charlatan, is perfectly normal.

Earlier this year the EMP asked me to be apart of a one night only panel of experts on different areas of the Lego community. I was billed as the “expert” Lego photographer. I laughed and told people I was an “expert in my field” (complete with air quotes). But little did I realize that maybe I am an expert in my field. Ok, I will admit it’s a very small field, one that has just a handful of participants. But hey, I am an expert! If the EMP called me one, I must be one! I’m going to go out on a limb and call Me2 an expert too. (I hope he doesn’t mind.)

Which leads me to the most important question: Are you an artist? Are you an expert in toy photography? If so, let me know. Let’s be experts together, we can fake it until we all make it…together.

– xxsjc

The Flow – Part I

https://flic.kr/p/mRqwpa

Last weekend I was stuck in a small city called Leuven exploring some of the secret portals they have hidden in plane sight and I was really struggling with my on the road workflow (hence the reason I did not post a blog or a quick selfie on instagram) as there is more to the flow than just point, shoot and post …

So this morning, back in The Studio, armed with a cup of coffee I decided to upload Stargate™to Flickr when my happy flow and the rest of the day was ruined.

Flickr and Yahoo decided to have a battle with my identity provider and no longer offer a trusted sign on with Google (and Facebook) or at least a big pop up told me that soon my login would no longer be possible …

And so my early morning post on Shelly stealing topic and some of my on the road workflow musings got canned and this posting turned into a little rant.

I can understand the need for Yahoo (who owns Flickr) to try to regain a piece of the identity puzzle, but why they have to enforce this on the existing (paying) user base is beyond my understanding and I don’t understand why I am forced in a yahoo email address.

There is no incentive, no clear explanation, just the need to register yet another email address I will never use. 

I do like Flickr, and I stayed away from uploading my pictures into Picasa (the Google Flickr) but given the road Flickr and Yahoo have choosen (removing the blogger integration, removing the Google Identity integration, …) it is clear that Flickr wants me to choose between the Google ecosystem and theirs on the long run.

A choice that may not be in favor of Flickr after all …