SiPGoesVirtual 2020 – An Editorial Review

We were supposed to be in Tallinn. But this is 2020, and things just haven’t gone according to plan for anyone. And so a new plan was formulated. We were going online. 15 intrepid photographers forging on this strange world.

ShtacyP has participated in seven SiP Toy Safaris: Hamburg, London, Edinburgh, Paris, Billund, Cambridge, and now Digital!

The similarities between a physical and virtual safari

It was always going to be different from our regular toy safaris. No holding of reflectors or lights for other people. No print exchange. And no walking kilometre after kilometre to get to that next spot just 10 minutes away. But that doesn’t mean that there weren’t similarities.

We still had (relatively) early morning coffee-fuelled starts (just no scrabbling to find the nearest open Starbucks). We still had safari bingo cards (#WhereIsBoris). And we still got to hang out with old friends and connect with new ones. And amazingly, we were still able to share toys with each other.

The #RainbowPatrol, passing on their favourite things to friends across 3 different time zones.

The differences between a physical and virtual safari

For this online adventure to work we needed structure. In real life safaris, we will plan to go to different locations, but largely we’ll meander across town playing it by ear, and the photos we take will just kind of, happen. This time though we had been set a series of wonderful challenges by our fearless leaders.

We had photo prompts, narratives to create, and we worked all together, in breakout groups, and individually. Shooting against the clock, so that the newspapers (Planet and Prophet) could hit their print deadlines! To make our deliverables it meant thinking fast, communicating effectively, collaborating (all those good corporate words, right Ian?) It was at times a little frantic, sometimes stressful, but hey, we were playing with our toys, how stressed out could we really get?!

ShtacyP, known for her ability to spin a yarn and tell a story about the most inanimate of rocks, became Editor-in-Chief, wrangling the outputs of her wonderful team of photographers and reporters into coherent (if laughable) stories, worthy of being printed in one of the many publications ran by Green Lantern.

Taking photos

One of my favourite things about safaris is watching how people create their photos, and then seeing them post the photos weeks later and understanding the story of how that photo came to be, where the light was coming from, why the photographer was in that weird position on the floor.

But this time around, the structure meant that photos were produced, edited, and shared almost instantaneously. We could see each other’s photos as quickly as they could be uploaded onto Google Drive (not that any of us snooped in the other teams’ folders of course…).

This process wasn’t any worse, just different. It still worked as a learning experience. Webcams were often left on whilst artists snapped away just out of shot. Tricks and tips were still shared. As were screens: “Do you like this edit better, or this one?” Every day is a school day.

The goody bag

In preparation for the weekend’s activities we all (well, depending on your country’s postal service) received very special packages in the days before the safari. Cruelly though we had to wait to open them. Those packages sat in our offices, on our desks, hidden away in cupboards, just asking to be played with.

Temptations were successfully resisted and as soon as we were allowed to rip them open and reveal the secret contents of the bags, we were off into the first of our challenges! The goodies found inside gave us some common threads that would help us tell our stories. Plus, we had been given hints about what sorts of pieces would be appropriate to pack for the safari, things that would help draw our creative outputs together.

Assessment

By the time Sunday afternoon came around, we had completed all our challenges. We had written our stories, the personal ones, and the collective ones. We had created incredible things, photos, and memories. Things that will be immortalised in hardback, should we want a memento of this one-off event. Friendships begun and firmly cemented, we logged off of the meeting, so that we could rest in preparation for our next viral marketing campaign.

Taking it easy like a Sunday afternoon after a toy safari.

As far as I am concerned the #SiPGoesVirtual2020 weekend was a resounding success. Whilst we couldn’t explore the cobbled streets in the medieval Old Town of Tallinn I think we achieved all the things I’ve come to expect as a toy safari veteran. We took photos of toys, we hung out with friends, and we had fun. Isn’t that what it’s all about?!

The Best of the 2019 LEGO Friends Advent Calendar

My experience with LEGO Advent calendars has been quite a disappointment in the past years. After regretting not getting a Star Wars calendar in 2014, I got one in 2015 and 2016. Then LEGO stopped including exclusive Christmas-themed minifigures in the Star Wars calendars, so I stopped buying them. While I’ve been tempted more than once by the City calendars, I had got one in 2014 and felt like there was not enough novelty for getting one again.

But this year, I decided to get two calendars: the new Harry Potter calendar, and for the first time the, Friends calendar. With not much left to do with SiPgoes53, much of my photographic effort has been focused on these two calendars.

So on this Christmas morning, I wanted to share my thoughts about the Friends calendar.

Continue reading “The Best of the 2019 LEGO Friends Advent Calendar”

F•R•I•E•N•D•S

Our Friends at Central Perk.

For those who don’t know what the television series Friends is all about ….. (which I can hardly imagine), here is a quick intro:

The series revolves around a group of six friends: Rachel Green, Ross Geller, Monica Geller, Chandler Bing, Joey Tribbiani and Phoebe Buffay. They are all in their twenties and they live and work in Manhattan, New York in the nineties (there were 10 seasons with the first one released in 1994) .
The ups and downs of the characters take place in their apartments and Central Perk, a coffee house around the corner.

Continue reading “F•R•I•E•N•D•S”

Friends

Friends

Friends is an American television sitcom, created by David Crane and Marta Kauffman, which aired on NBC from September 22, 1994, to May 6, 2004, lasting ten seasons. With an ensemble cast starring Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer, the show revolves around six 20–30-something friends living in Manhattan. It is widely regarded as one of the greatest TV shows of all time, and it was one of the first things that jumped to my mind when I saw this weeks word.


And so the TV series is not what we are talking about.
We are talking about the social concept, known as friendship.
Our word of the week. Continue reading “Friends”

Day Zero

Day Zero is upon us.

We find C3PO and Artoo wondering if this is really the adventure they both have been looking for, while our other guests are just enjoying the tropical temperatures the Stockholm Archipelago has to offer these days …

The crew is ready, the gear is locked and most of the guests have arrived (two listed ladies are still missing and a rescue mission has been launched).

We are ready to hit the road and indeed kickstart the adventure we all have been waiting for.

An adventure of Friends™ that will take us places.

An adventure that hopefully will spark some global friendship and shows us some great scenery and inspiration.

An adventure that will take us beyond the basics and who knows may even cross paths with an old sailor at the other side of the pond.

An adventure that starts in the south of Sweden (here is a numerical hint for those who cannot wait and want to say hi tomorrow 57.695219 11.992464,17) but will soon take us to places far beyond the starting point and its merry go round …

So, if you are in the neighborhood of  57.695219 11.992464,17 tomorrow evening we may bump into each other !

Me2 and Crew

Friends™

On my way back to planet Earth I tried to catch up with the news of what is happening in our part of the universe. And I must say it was really a sad day to read on recent accidents and growing intolerance on our little planet and heated conflicts the last few weeks.

Like Shelly so nicely said in her post here, we do only have one planet called Earth and we need to work together to keep everyone on it safe; one friend at a time. 

One friend at a time.

It was great to find on my return my good old friend Julien™on our dock, ready to join us in our next great adventure. He swam all the way from good old France through the channel with England up till our little Studio™ here in the Stockholm Archipelago.

More friends from all around the globe are on their way for our next adventure.

An Adventure travelling to one of the edges of this beautiful blue planet called Earth.

An Adventure of Friends… 

Me2

 
PS. You can still join in our Adventure of Friends™and travel along as the Friendship is gathering. Just get in touch here below in the comments, on G+, FB or IG or use that old magic dragon to connect with us.

Sometimes a “like” is more than just a “like”.

I know there is some controversy on Instagram about “likes” and when to give them. I have plenty of friends among my followers who never like any photos and are quite proud of this fact. When they tell me this I just look at them quizzically and wonder “Why?” Why do you even bother participating in this community?

I will freely admit I like almost every photo I run across. Maybe this means my “likes” are meaningless, but they aren’t to me. I am not liking them for there stellar quality or there creativity (even though that is often the case), I am also liking them for the effort. I know how hard it is to get up each morning and be creative. Some days you are more successful than others; and to me it’s the effort that matters most.

I have a friend who works in public relations and one of her duties for her clients is to tell them they are wonderful…every day. Artists are often in a crisis of self confidence, self doubt comes with the territory. Putting your work in the public to be judged is hard on the psyche. Sometimes I want to add her to my payroll so I can have her do this same service for me on a daily basis. I guess I will settle for our occasional beer and pep talks.

So to everyone who shares their images publicly, I applaud you. You are doing the work and it isn’t easy. Know I will always be there to like your photo and cheer you on because we all need a cheering section.

Are you a “happy liker” like me?
Do you have a cheering section to help you get over the rough patches?

















My best friend Kitty with her dogs Kipper and Minty. 

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