Best of 2015 Photo Challenge

“Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop.” – Ansel Adams

Just like Ansel Adams, we realize twelve good images a year is a tremendous accomplishment that should be celebrated. So last year we challenged our readers to come up with their own 12 best images, turn them into small photo books and exchange them with us. Everyone who participated was thrilled with the experience, especially Me2 and myself, and requested this to be an annual activity. Continue reading “Best of 2015 Photo Challenge”


When we asked in early November who was interested in joining us for a book exchange project of our significant twelve of 2014, we did not expected such a massive response from all of you.

It is easy to like a picture on Instagram, or give a thumbs up on Facebook. It is sometimes more challenging to engage in a conversation, yet it is a tenfold more challenging to actually commit to making your own book, printing it and then mailing it.

Yet you did it.

You took up the challenge and curated your twelve significant images and shared them with us.

You are awesome, and every single book we got just made us smile, made us feel connected with you and let us discover your feed through a completely different set of eyes. So often in this fast paced world of the Internet and Instagram we don’t find the time to really look at the photos posted. Look at the story they tell. Reflect on the image and the photographer behind them. These books, and the accompanying explanations and inner monologue, brought a new level of understanding an enjoyment to your work.

Now that we have embarked on a new year, we are both looking forward to doing it all over again. With every photo we take, we can’t help but wonder: will this one make it into this years book?

Thank you everyone for starting this most amazing tradition with us and sharing not just your twelve but your Why. Thank You, Stefan for the most personal note you included in your book. Thank You, Cindy for opening up your world to us and let us take a glimpse inside Her Masters Voice. Thank You, Sandi for sharing your twelve, and we cannot wait to see next years from you. Thank You, Sylviane for showing us your lab and hamster alike. Thank you Leila for sharing your beautiful home with us. Thank you Pinar for sharing your family and your LEGO journey with us.

From Me2 and xxSJC to all of you: Thank You!

A tradition is born.

The Photo Challenge Books Begin to Arrive!

Photo courtesy of @Herrsm

The books created for the Best of 2014 Photo Challenge are starting to arrive. I have seen several posts on IG featuring books by both Me2 and myself so I know they are arriving at their destinations.  I have received a handful myself and I can understand the enthusiasm that the recipients feel. Opening each book is a true gift; a gift of the heart.

These little books are packed with memories, back stories, unique presentations and of course lots of outstanding photographs. Each book reflects the individual creator, but they also represent everything good about our toy photography community. In short they are amazing!

The stories I have read within their pages reflect the camaraderie, the joy, the relationships and the common experiences that bind us together. I am pretty sure that Me2 and I are the true winners in this endeavor because we will receive eight to nine books each. A veritable treasure trove of photography goodness.

So to everyone who took the plunge and created a book I thank you for making this a truly special holiday.

~ xxsjc

There where seven participants in the book exchange; Sweden (2), Germany (1), Turkey (1),  Columbia (1), United States (3), Belgium (1)

Should we do this again? If so, how often?  

If we do this again, would you like the opportunity to exchange with everyone who participates? 

Photo courtesy of @sandi_gee

Getting Ready

Uploading my significant twelve …
This weekend I spent most of the time in my digital light room doing some fun post processing, taking a trip down to memory lane and not being behind the viewfinder shooting new existing stuff. 
I was working on my significant twelve for our Stuck In Plastic book exchange and getting my booklet out to Blurb (yes, I managed).
While I was planning to write a longer post on using Lightroom to create booklets (pretty impressed), and adding some of my findings and musings on creating my significant twelve (yes, I managed to upload and order last night my booklet), Big Inc. has been calling in some favors today and my deep dive into Lightroom books will have to wait a little.
One thing I did want to share with all of you now, is that you still have time to make your own photo book as a perfect Xmas gift for your friends and family (you don’t have to share it with us).
In the below calendar (special kudos to Blurb for the screenshot) you can see your average photo book provider will need your book by mid next week in order to get it delivered under your Xmas tree.

Blurb delivery dates, check your local provider for details …
So, you still have time to create that very personal gift for your loved ones, collect some of your twelve significant moments from your iPhone or DSLR collection, and get them printed in a little (or larger) booklet and surprise the ones you care about with a look back at last years memories.
Use the power of now, and get that booklet created.
This post is not sponsored by Blurb, nor are we affiliated with them. I just like them and had a very good experience with them. Shelly highligted some other alternatives in this post here.
Did you know that I revealed my camera of choice in the above image ? I didn’t, but dornyika pointed it out on my last post on IG.  

Did you know that you can have a sneak in the dungeons of Stuck In Plastic and have a peak at the new look and feel ?

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. 

Are you ?

Exploring Stone Mountain, GA, USA.
One cannot sneak away on a secret mission for 11 days without expecting some creative mischief from Shelly here on Stuck In Plastic.
What started as a simple quote from Sir Adams on your 12 significant ones is turning into a full fledged artistic exchange program for the friends of Stuck In Plastic to celebrate the best of 2014.
Count me in.
It is not to feed The Beauty Shelly has just discovered in her latest book, it is just I genuinely love these little books, I have been pushing it forward because of lack of time and focus. 
And I do love the exchange of crazy adventures as some of you may remember.
So, no more excuses.
The power of now.
I am in.
In order to help us getting this epic photo exchange better organized, I created a simple form where you can leave your name, adress, email and if you want to exchange with Shelly, me or with both of us and get double awesomeness in your mailbox to enjoy.
So here is a simple recap:
We all create our best 12 pictures of 2014 book (full details available in this post and this one).
You sign up in this form here 
You select with whom you want to exchange.
We sent you the adress details where to sent your book to.
We (Shelly, me or both of us) sent you our respective books by December 15th.
We keep you all updated here in our blog.
I am in.
Are you ?

2014 Photo Challenge (details)

I am very pleased with the response to my photo challenge. Your enthusiasm is infectious!

Here are a few more details.

If you have never made a photo book before you are in for a treat. It is a very satisfying way to display your photos and of course they make great gifts. There has been some concern that this activity would be cost prohibitive, so I did some research and found some options of publishers that offer modest pricing.

Artifact Uprising offers a 6 x 8 soft cover book for $22.99.
Shutterfly offers a 7 x 9 softcover book for $15.99.
Mosaic offers a 7 x 7 hard cover book for $20.00
Apple offers a 8 x 6 soft cover book for $11.00
Lulu offers a 9 x 7 soft cover book for $12.99

These sites all have pre packed designs that you can drop your images into. This is not a design challenge. Simply pick a simple layout and upload your photos to it. It couldn’t be any simpler. If you plan to print multiple copies of any book I recommend printing one copy to proof color and density. Just because your photo looks great on the screen, doesn’t mean it will look good on paper.

If you want to get super fancy I would suggest checking out Blurb Photo Books. You can go crazy and get a beautiful hard cover book for around $36.00. (All the pricing is approximate and quoted for a book of 20 pages or less. All pricing is in US currency.)

Each of these options have there pluses and minuses. You will have to decide if you want to add text or let the photos speak for themselves. Mosaic is a photo only layout. I have found that text is really helpful down the road to remember the time and place; those details that become fuzzy with time.

If you are ready to commit to exchanging a photo book with me please click here. Please send me an e-mail and let me know your intentions by December 1st. Ideally we would all have our books printed and mailed by December 31st.

In other news I wanted to share with you my first large scale print that I received from the printer. I am no stranger to printing my photographs large, but this is the first Lego mini figure photo and I couldn’t be more pleased with the results.

Have a great weekend friends and I hope to hear from you!

~ xxsjc

If you want to research a full range of custom book publishers check out this article
If I haven’t answered your specific question, please leave a comment and I will get back to you.
This challenge is open to all photographers who are friends of this blog, not just toy photographers. 
What is the biggest art photo you have ever printed? 

Have a great weekend and we should be hearing from +Me2 and Avanaut before long.

Best of 2014 Photo Challenge

It is that time of year when I turn my thoughts to assembling a photo album of pictures I have taken of my children during the past 12 months. This is a tradition I started nine years ago with the birth of my second child. Each book is an epic adventure in its own right, but all the books together is mind blowing. For my 17 year old daughter, it is her most cherished Christmas gift.

After a Twitter conversation with Arby of @Worldofminifigs regarding her annual calendar, I was wondering if this might not be a good exercise for my Lego photography as well. Why not start with 2014 and create a small book of my favorite 12 images that I can then share with my family and friends? You know, the special ones that have been supportive throughout the year.

But I want to add a twist to this project; I want you to do it too.

…and then I want us to swap them.

I want to share my photos with you and I want you to share yours with me. Why?

  • We can feed the Marketing Beast together.
  • It is good practice to edit your images.
  • These images could be the seeds of a future photography show.
  • It is a great way to look back and appreciate your year in photography.
  • We can move one step closer to making our internet friends into real life friends.
  • Create an inexpensive holiday gift for friends and family alike.
  • A tangible way to show people what your passion is.

Not to mention that if we keep doing this every year, making a book of our12 favorite / best images, we will have a great archive and a tangible view of our progress. There is no substitute to seeing your images printed in a book or framed on a wall to give a real sense of accomplishment.

If you accept my challenge, please leave your intentions in the comments below. I will keep you up to date on my progress. Ideally, I will have all books printed and mailed before December 15th.

I hope you will accept my challenge and share your photography with me because I want to share my photography with you.

~ xxsjc

I wonder if I can persuade +Me2 and Avanaut to join in?
This challenge is open to anyone who has been a friend of this blog, not just toy photographers. 

Will this image make the cut?