Mug in Plastic

According to SiP tradition (if there is one), I’d need make a Lego version of me. Having a mini-me is not really a rule but rather a handy little something that can be used as a tool or, let’s say, a stuntman in certain occasions. I find the idea amusing.

I sat down to think whether I’d make one from the bits and pieces we have in our home but didn’t come up with anything. I didn’t really see myself in Lego.

Then I realized I already had a Lego me. I have used a picture of a snowtrooper minifigure as my avatar with pretty much every platform I’m on for a long time. Thinking about it, it actually suits me quite well, bar the military aspects of it, of course. The troopers operate in cold and are used to snow, they are completely covered in protective gear and, you know, I bet it’s comfy underneath. Sounds good to me, I’ve always liked helmets anyway.

The snowtrooper is also symbolic to the subject of my photography, my favourite environment to go to with a camera is tabletop snow. I like the minuscule snow particles I can see with a macro lens. The snowy photographs are my most popular ones as well, so, it’s only natural the snowtrooper gets to represent me.

How about the name? I have used the callsign TK-24/7 to single out the trooper in my Flickr photos many times, the name has been the same whether it’s been a snowtrooper, stormtrooper or a scout. The joke in the callsign TK-24/7 is, of course, the idea of a plastic trooper being always available for duty.

Now, you may see a generic snowtrooper when you look at the photo below, a minifigure that is not customized or personalized at all. But it’s really TK-24/7, always up and ready to go. My guy.

Art Reflects the Present

The other day I was feeling my usual bout of anxiety and doubt… Why am I doing this? My work is crap! You know, that kind of stuff. So I turned to my trusty copy of “Art and Fear” to find some words of consolation. I found words of encouragement and so much more.

In particular this passage really struck a cord:

“That’s also to say that usually – but not always – the piece you produce tomorrow will be shaped, purely and simply, by the tools you hold in your hand today.”

Of course the author was thinking more along the lines of painting materials like egg tempera, oils and acrylics. But can’t the same analogy be made for the rise of toy photography?

We are surrounded by plastic toys in the form of cheap imports from China, give aways at restaurants, movie tie ins and of course whatever we might have saved from our own childhoods. It seems that with all of these toys clambering for our attention something was bound to happen.

When the ubiquitous camera phone was combined with social media (especially Instagram), a movement was born. I know we are a niche group, and a small one at that, but the creativity exhibited by some of these photographers is awe inspiring. There is craftsmanship, social awareness and special effects being employed to create some very memorable images. 

I’m certainly not implying we are producing anything new. We have already seen with our previous guest posts that there are always pioneers in any field. But what we have now is a far greater range of styles and toys being used.

We will be hearing from a few of these new breed of toy photographers in the weeks ahead as we explore this amazing and creative movement we affectionately refer to as being Stuckinplastic.

~ xxsjc

Are there other influences that have created and shaped this toy photography movement? 

The Little Green Men …

What a surprise to find my two dear friends on the cliffs of Cape North on this truly epic adventure in search of Northern Light! It has been so long since our paths have crossed. If I had only known they where following us, I would have had +Me2 pull over sooner.

 Alas, their time was short so we had to keep our reminiscences brief. After we caught up on the important stuff they informed me my travels would soon encounter another dear friend. They handed me a package and asked me to pass it along to our mutual friend. I knew well enough not to ask any unnecessary questions. I love my green traveling friends, but I know they enjoy their secrecy.

 Even though the package was slim, I held out hope it had something to do with food because those little green travelors really know how to cook. If you ever run into them, ask them to prepare you a meal. You won’t regret it! 
~ xxsjc
Have you looked at a map and seen where these photos where taken
Would you want to travel there yourself?

Beyond The Basics

Ok you’ve mastered the basics…now what?

You’ve got a good gear set-up, you know how to work those studio lights, you have a good grasp of depth of field and your photos more often than not, turn out great. Congratulations you are now a photographer!! Welcome to the club. 
Now the fun begins.
What are you going to do with this new found photo knowledge? What is the story you are trying to tell with your images?  What emotion you are trying to convey? How are you connecting with your audience? How are you changing the world around you? How is what you are doing different from everything that has come before?
I didn’t say this was going to be easy. 
It doesn’t matter if you are creating photos to feed the Instagram beast or creating a body of work that will be shown in a professional setting, you need to be asking your self these questions. In a world that generates thousands of photos per minute you need to make an emotional connection with your audience in some fashion. Your work needs to move beyond the technical. What exactly that will look like is each persons unique journey. 
Please don’t think that +Me2 and I do not struggle with these questions on a daily basis. We do, trust me. You are in good company. This is not an easy task, but it will elevate your work to the next level. 
~ xxsjc

“Everything you can imagine is real.” Pablo Picasso

Sometimes doing nothing is better than doing something.

While we await news of +me2’s grand adventure, I’ve been having a small adventure of my own.

When I left town a few days ago, I packed a wonderful collection of Lego and all my camera gear with grand intentions. My family and I would be driving nearly 1800 miles (2824 km) across the US and we would be passing by some of my favorite places in the country like Yellowstone National Park and Moab, Utah. I was going to be ready!

Five days later, not a single Lego picture was taken, not even a quick iPhone photo. What happened? In our spare time we decided to do stuff a 9 year old boy wanted to do: a train museum and a dinosaur museum were the highlights. Besides having fun I realized I was actually taking a much needed mental break. I have enough photos on my iPad to feed the Instagram beast for a couple of weeks and it was more important for me to take a breather.  
When you embark on your creative path, it’s important to realize that when you’re not working on your work…you probabaly still are. Even when taking a break, your mind will continue to be working out those artistic road blocks. And this is what happened to me this week. At some point while driving I realized where I wanted to go next with my Lego photos and what my project would look like. Now I can’t wait to get home and get started. 
If you’re feeling stuck or unmotivated, simply kicking back and relaxing is the best course of action. Let your subconscious work it out, more than likely it’s already got the answer. Sometimes you have to do nothing to move forward. 
I have had a request to do more photography tips on the blog. If this is something you would like to see, please leave a comment below.


Sunday Painters (another perspective)

I can relate to +Me2  and his Sunday Painter plight. I am not sure any of us has the stamina or the time to create meaningful art on a daily basis. It is so much easier to do the laundry, cook a meal, play video games or any of the thousands of distractions we encounter daily. 

Before anyone gives up on this so called battle lets talk about what creating art on a full time basis looks like. Because sometimes I think people have a grander notion of what being an artist is. What it’s not: painting every day in your studio, listening to classical music while your faithful cat keeps you company (or insert personal fantasy of your choice here). What it can look like is thinking about what you want to make, planning out your image, gathering supplies and props and sketching some ideas in a work book. Often it means simply staying caught up on what’s going on in your field, understanding the changing marketplace and researching the past. Day to day tasks often involve organizing work, matting final images, networking, bookkeeping, meetings, phone calls and e-mails like any other grunt worker. 
Finding success in the market place is a mixed blessing. The process of creating and selling the same old same old that pays the bills can be a soul deadening experience. For most artists creating new, exciting and challenging work on a regular basis is the exception. In a way relegating them back into the category of the “Sunday Painter”.
For the working artist (or the Sunday Painter) the greatest luxury is creating art that inspires you. 
~ xxsjc  
What does your perfect artist life loo like? 

I chose this image by +Gordon Webb to illustrate another time suck that is a big part of our weird Stuckinplastic world,,,forever sorting.