Mind The Gap

Mind The Gap

It has been a busy week to say the least.

After our epic friendship dinner and some tears and hugs the day after (when we all said our farewells and goodbyes), Shelly got in an epic write up mood and not only wrote a fantastic sequel on being grateful, followed by an interesting observation on art as the conversation topic of choice for bankers in the weekend but also continued to reveal the century old secret ingredient of lemonade being lemons.

If this all was not sufficient, we got reminded on the honey trap we all face when we go out on our favorite social media platform of choice looking for instant recognition and gratification.

A true Roller-Coaster for the mind.

In the meantime I was stuck in corporate boardrooms with Darth, discussing his latest and greatest top secret projects I can not talk about (remember these silly NDA‘s …) without a decent connection to the internet (WiFi on the Death Star is restricted).

So, when I came back from my corporate deep dive I got completely energized by all the food for thought Shelly put out there.

Food for discussion.

Food for our brains and our heart to take in, absorb, dissect and include in our work.

I for sure will respond on some of the posts in more detail (I still believe bankers talk shop in the weekend and likes can help you grow your skills as an artistic crowdsourcing) but for now I can only wholeheartedly agree with Shelly when she reminds us of the gap between following our own artistic self and seeking instant gratification on our social media of choice.

Mind the gap.

Me2

The “Like” Trap

This was posted on G+ the other day by a photographer I follow:

“I may have hit the inevitable conclusion that more I try to find a fit for my photography in other’s lives, the more unhappy I become. Social media has inevitably turned from the place of hope to just the typical empty echo chamber that it is. I really need to find a way to go back to shooting for myself and not others.” ~ Anonymous

After reading the comments it seems that he is looking for validation for his photographs in terms of “likes” and favorites. It is easy to fall into the trap of having lots of followers who give feedback to feel like you are moving in the right direction. But this is an ugly trap.

Social media, be it Twitter, Facebook, Google, Flickr or whatever, will not give you the feedback you need and most likely crave. (Let’s be realistic, we all have egos that enjoy an occasional stroking.) I talked earlier about the sheer volume of photos posted daily to FB and G+ here. With this volume of photographs being posted you need to find your motivation from within yourself or from with the work you are doing. It’s near impossible to be seen in this onslaught of imagery. Lets face the harsh reality, more than likely you will be making work that no one really cares about except you.

So stop chasing “likes,” chasing followers, chasing the latest photo trend and create the work that makes you happy. If it’s photos of babies and cats, then make them the best photos they can be. Be it toys or water droplets it doesn’t matter…the only one who is setting the rules is you.

And you know what, if you do the work you love, you never know who is going to start following you. Sometimes miracles do happen.

~ xxsjc

I used an image of a Chima because I have noticed that they usually get 50-100 less “likes” on Instagram than any other image I post. If I was going for the most likes per image I wold post only Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle photos. But I love Eglor and all the characters of the Chima tribes and I will continue to explore my universe with them.

Lemonade from Lemons

I realize I used this photo recently, but I felt it deserved its own post since it has an interesting back story.

In an effort to add a new twist to my photography and set ups I have been making my own accessories. I was inspired by the documentary Marwencol as well as Krash_Override, an Instagram friend.

Lets just say that I have a few things to learn about making accessories for my Lego friends. First is the scale. It is remarkably hard to get the items to scale as well as sized so my little friends are able to hold them comfortably. Second, since my material of choice is metal, the weight and balance point issues are problematic. I guess it never occurred to me that the smallest sword in copper and sterling silver would outweigh a little plastic mini figure.

This particular Chima friend was given a fairly large and weighty double edged sword and found it to be more than he could handle. Not only did it slip out of his grasp, the sheer size toppled him over instantly. As he was teetering on the edge of the rock precipice of our photo shoot, I managed to snap this rather dramatic photograph. Luckily he did not loose control and fall over the edge. I guess it is back to the drawing board for me.

So even though the sword was a bust I did manage to snap one of my favorite photos of the year. The lesson I am trying to impart here is don’t immediately assume every mistake is a failure. Because some where in that failure is a success, sometimes you just have to change your point of view.

How do you feel about the Chima line of mini figures?

Art vs Money

I found this quote in Art & Fear :

“When bankers get together for dinner, they discuss Art. When artists get together for dinner, they discuss money.” ~ Oscar Wilde

It seems that life in the ninteenth century was not so different from life in the twenty-first century.

~ xxsjc

Did you buy your copy of Art & Fear yet?
How many different versions of Unikitty do you have? 

Grateful (3/3)

How could I not take a moment and say thank you to everyone who has ever supported my toy photos on Instagram, Flickr, G+ and especially here at Stuckinplastic? The connections forged here on the internet amongst this far flung group of like minded souls fills my heart with joy.

To be inspired by and to inspire like minded toy photographers is a great thrill for me. I wish I could name every person who has inspired me or made me feel happy with their kind words. But they are too numerous and I would ultimately leave someone out. I’m pretty sure if you find this post and read it, then you are one of those people and I am grateful for making a connection with you.

Everyone has a bucket list of some type. Often this list is filled with adventures like skydiving, climbing Mount Everest or traveling to some far flung local. On the top of my list is a party akin to the farewell party thrown by +Me2 after his adventure in search of the Northern Light. To sit around a table for an evening with all my Instagram and toy photography friends toasting, gabbing, talking toys would bring me the greatest joy. When I first saw his pictures here on the blog I actually got emotional. It was like my dream was coming true, even for a brief moment, and it was lovely.

I am looking forward to 2015 because there are possibilities on the horizon that could lead to an evening like Me2 depicted. The first is the Toy Photo Meet-up in Las Vegas, Nevada, January 16-19th. A few of my favorite toy photographers are going to attend and I hope to persuade a few more to join us. But who ever ultimatly attends, know we will be toasting all the friends we have made on Instagram. The second event is in early March and I will reveal more information as it becomes appropriate.

So thank you Instagram and Stuckinplastic friends. You bring me joy, humor and friendship everyday and I am grateful for all of it.

~ xxsjc

Grateful (2/3)

I’m sure this one is pretty self explanatory, but I am thankful for my family. I’m not foolish enough to think that I could be taking lego photos, volunteering, running 1/2 of Stuckinplastic as well as 1/3 of Brickcentral (as well as my regular life and job responsibilities) without some serious family support.

Not only do they support my photo antics, they actually encourage them. My husband will buy me unusual mini figs as gifts, my daughter keeps my up to date on the doings at the Lego store she works at and my son helps me build props as well as accompanies my on my photo adventures.

They all know that when we go on a family adventure there is a good chance my Lego friends will be coming along as well. They are all happy to hang out for an hour or more while I take advantage of some interesting local to snap a couple of photos. This past weekend was no exception. We went on a hike and I had some quality photo time at our destination as well as some quality time photographing at the lake at the base of the trail.

It’s not easy to be an adult playing with toys. Not having to explain myself to the ones I love is a blessing I don’t take for granted. Of course many of my friends fall somewhere between enthusiastic and skeptical, but they are slowly coming around. My parents…now that’s another story altogether.

~ xxsjc

How do your family and friends react to your hobby?
Do you have a photographic support system? If so, who are they?

Taken on a gloomy day at the end of a lovely hike.

Grateful (1/3)

I’m out of practice blogging, but +me2‘s last post put me in mind of a series of posts about gratitude. I know it’s not the holidays, but sometimes it’s nice to sit back and take stock of where you are and why.

Even though I graduated from university with a degree in photography and had a successful art career, I never felt like I knew what I was doing. I would joke that if the subject wasn’t under water I wouldn’t know what to do. This was shockingly close to the truth. 
When my art career ended I was at loose ends and struggling to find my place artistically. Through a random series of events I ended up volunteering at my local independent radio station KEXP. The gentlemen I work with have been generous with their patience, guidance and willingness to share information. I felt like I was in school again. Over the past five years I’ve learned how to handle my dslr, light a room, video like a pro, work as a team member and most importantly travel successfully with nine distinctly different and mostly male personalities. 
Our last adventure together was to a nearby music festival, Pickathon. Since we always travel short handed I volunteered to not only help with video but to take care of still photos of the bands. Basically I would be doing double duty. I took all my lenses with me: 70-200 for video, my favorite wide angle lens, my go-to 24-70 and on the off chance I could sneak in a lego photo my 100 mm macro (which is also a great portrait lens).  The upshot of taking stills for three days, 100’s of photos and multiple lens changes is that I actually understand how and when to use each of these lenses. I also learned each lenses strengths and weaknesses. It was glorious. 
Since I’m an art / casual photographer I rarely have this kind of intense photographic experience. I left mentally exhausted but happy with my efforts. It was also gratifying to find out my current toy photography editing work flow also worked great in the field. It is mazing to me how much these two hobbies of mine, toy photography and music videos, inform and influence each other. In many ways I wish my stills could be as good as the work I turn in with video. I am sure in time it will.
In the mean time there is never a day that goes by that I’m not grateful by this volunteering experience. I have learned so much over the years, made friends and met more than a few amazing musicians. 
~ xxsjc
Where did you learn your photographic skills: traditional school or the school of hard knocks? 
Have you considered sharing your photography skills as a volunteer?
If you want to see the entire set of photos I took, look here.
Pickathon’s main stage at night.

6474K of Friendship

The friendship dinner outside the Studio
Our friends arrived sound and safe at The Studio and decoded the message of our little green friends that every adventure needs to end with a friendship dinner just like the adventures of Nero and Asterix.
While Rudolf made a viable alternative for the wild boars of Asterix and Co. up here in the North, the secret message of our green friends talked about cloud berries and ice cream.
  
Herr K. from Hamburg.

Herr K. mentioned the good old tradition of German Weisbeer and before we knew we were all talking about our own country favorites, from crocodile to wiener.

Lady W. from S.

A great evening where adventures and stories were turned into tales for the future …

A toast …

Friendships were sealed …

… for a toast full of wonderlust.

And new adventures full of wanderlust are forged into the future …

The great quest for the Northern light has come to an end and the Crew will travel back to the corners of the earth with great new experiences, certificates and a secret key to the  light switch of the arctic light … 

We will give you some more travel details and inside pictures in the coming weeks as we get our head around the plus 6K pictures we took on this trip. 

A trip which took us six thousand four hundred seventy four kilometers with our little VW camper …

Trainspotting

After a long trip through the woods of Lapland crossing Norway, Finland and Sweden (meeting up with the locals across the arctic circle) our friends made it finally back into the urbanized world where they decided to hitchhike back across the vast lands of Sweden with the local train.

Soon our friends will reach the Studio™where the secret package of our little green friends will be turned into something delicious to end this epic adventure before our friends travel back to the different corners of our world and enjoy the memories of friendship, crazy adventures and midnight sun


One World

I admire +Me2 and his grand adventure of friends. To bring together people from several continents and many countries who’s only link to each other is a mutual love of Lego (and a sense of the absurd) is a beautiful thing. If only the rest of the world would get on board and join the fun.

I love the Instagram toy community that I am an active member of. It has shown me in so many ways that we are one world. We have so much in common beyond just having mother’s and father’s. Maybe we can counteract the fear and suspicion that seems to be taking over our planet by making friends across the globe. Each connection makes us stronger and less fearful of our differences.

In lieu of making friends and connections I guess we can always rely on a good alien invasion to bring us together.

~ xxsjc

Did you have a chance to catch up on the blog and see all the great group shots?
What super hero do you want to save us when the aliens come?