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
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 …
My favorite chapter in Steal Like An Artistis “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+…
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 Our™Journey ? (ok there is no official solicitation form, but that is part of the journey and You™know how to contact Us™)
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.
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 …
As I wait for me2 to recover from his latest secret mission I have been struggling to find interesting topics to write about. This blogging business is not easy.
As I have been casting about looking for topics, a particular book title kept popping into my head: Steal Like an Artist. This little book made its way into our house a couple of years ago and even though it has an awesome title I never read it. In my desperation for a blogging topic I tracked it down and cracked it open. Eureka!
With chapter topics like: “Don’t wait until you know who you are to get started” and “Side projects and hobbies are important” this book was speaking my language.
The first chapter alone is worth the price of admission. Somehow the author makes over used nuggets like “Nothing is Original” and “Garbage in Garbage Out” seems fresh and original. My favorite quote he chose to illustrate this chapter was by Jim Jarmusch.
“Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be a authentic.”
In the world of toy photography where everything is emulated and much is passed around without attribution, it’s important to note that by using the world “steal” the author is encouraging you to be inspired by everything you see, but don’t plagiarize.
Unless me2 suddenly shows up, I’ll talk about some of my other favorite chapters later this week. Stay tuned!
One thing I learned while I was getting my BFA in Photography was that I am really bad at black and white photography. Color is my medium. And if you don’t believe me check out my pre Lego work here.
One of the first apps I looked for after a good basic editing app for my iPhone/iPad was a good black and white photo editor. I was thrilled when I discovered Noir Photo. This little single use photo app is great for quickly creating dramatic black and white photos. It has an easy to use interface that lets you quickly turn your photos from this
So if you are looking to branch out with your photography and want to try to creating some dramatic black & white photos, might I suggest you give Noir Photo or Dramatic Black & White (another good black & white editor) a try. If you are like me and are black & white challenged, an app like this will fool people into thinking you know what you are doing. And isn’t that what it is all about, faking it?
Some times when Me2 and I debate we have to agree to disagree, but we rarely disagree on the value of Instagram. Of course Instagram will always have a soft spot for me because I met many great toy photographers, like Me2, on Instagram but I also developed my own voice and personal vision.
There is something thrilling about posting images to Instagram and getting instant feedback from your peers. For almost two years I was posting daily pictures to Instagram, participating in the toy photography community, looking at others peoples feeds, trying lots of different styles and generally playing around in a no pressure environment. I have posted comics, interior studio set ups, quickie iPhone photos and over edited shots as I have experimented finding my personal voice. I have also experimented with a variety of Lego mini figures to find the ones that convey what I want say. All this intense editing, shooting and looking helped me to narrow my choices and find my place within this community.
Recently I was asked how I created the image below. The hope was that I could quantify the image into a f/stop, a film speed and an ISO to show others how it is done. But really, the secret is pretty simple: take lots of photographs. Did I say lots of photos? I mean A LOT of photographs, hundreds, thousands, whatever it takes. Of course luck has its place, but with more shooting this becomes less important. After you take a million photos you will know what works and what to avoid.
Sure, knowing the rule of thirds, how to control focus, depth of field and basic editing skills are also essential, but shooting thousands of photos will get you their even faster. And having a place like Instagram to post them is a wonderful outlet to all this content you have created along the way. The feedback (or lack of feedback) you get on your photos is essential. Having a supportive community to cheer you on as you struggle with your personal vision is a pretty heady experience.
So utilize the heck out of Instagram, get involved, share your passion, meet new friends and watch your photography improve along the way. Because Instagram is a great tool to finding your personal vision, becoming a better photographer and improving your editing skills. Plus, its lots of fun!!