Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Spring is in the air ...


https://flic.kr/p/nan7n2


Walpurgis, or the preparation for trick and treat in six months time from now on All Hallows' Eve kicks off the Spring Season in this segment of the world.

It is most interesting to see that the pagan celebration of nature elements is popping up  in our pictures once in a while.

Must be the sun and the golden hour
Maybe something we should explore in more depth.

Pagan, turning of the tides, Christian calendar and great shooting moments ...

Enjoy Vappu / Valborg / Spring / Walpurgis .... and let us know what you captured now that spring is starting in this part of the world !

Me2

Footnotes to self:

Day 11 in my personal challenge.

As always, stay tuned and leave your view in the comments below or on your social platform of choice on the pagan topic ...


K. I. S. S.

K. I. S. S. stands for "Keep It Simple, Stupid".

I was reminded of that simple phrase when +Christoffer Östberg posted this photo of Embo to G+ today. When you are editing photos on an iPad or iPhone it is so convenient to whip out an effects app to create a little mystery or a little sparkle.

It was inspiring to hear Christoffer say this mysterious effect was simply the smoke rising from a recently extinguished match. It was great to see him take advantage of the macro format as well as the unpredictable element of the rising smoke.

So not only did I walk away with a great reminder of one of the basic tenants of photography, I was also inspired to try something new.

Oh…and did I mention that I now have a serious case of mini figure envy.

~ xxsjc




Tuesday, April 29, 2014

No Selfie

Today I had the great pleasure to be invited to a small reception where I had the opportunity to meet the King and the Queen of the country I call mine (I am living in my second home country).

While most of the time I am surrounded with NDA and other corporate agreements and these kind of opportunities just only make it as a backdrop in my shoots (unless the personalities walk into The Studio™ off-course) and so it was great to hear the royal protocol did allow for some discreet pictures, but we were explicitly asked to not take any "selfies"...

It was a unique experience (no pictures though as I want to respect the royal protocol) and I promise tomorrows post will include a gorgeous shoot for you to enjoy.


Me2
 

Footnotes to self:

Day 10 in my personal challenge (and the first without a picture)

While this my sound more like a tweet, this blog post will proof it historical value.

As always, stay tuned and leave your view in the comments below or on your social platform of choice ...

Monday, April 28, 2014

Kodak


Yesterday I posted a quick #selfie from the 2012 archive showing me with some classic Gevaert paper from my grandfathers collection which triggered Shelly to ask for your influences in a very strong post (do read the full story on the buffalo posting as it gives a great insight in the political inspired photo work that also this generation is not afraid of).

For me one of my key foundation influences is that I grew up in a family of passionate photographers and spent quite some time in supporting developing film in the dark room or long afternoons in diapositive working sessions.

So photography has always been there as a medium and became a natural language for me.

A language which further developed into a way of expressing myself.

Me2





Footnotes to self:

Day 9 in my personal challenge (soon we are in double digits)

This is only the first post in who influenced me, but for sure Kodak and Gevaert did contribute like a toddler gets formed by kindergarten games.

As always, stay tuned and leave your view in the comments below or on your social platform of choice ...

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Who are your influences?

We are all influenced in our work, whether we are aware of it or not.

Last fall I had to write an artists statement about my work that included its origins and influences. I named the usually suspects like Sally Man and Jock Sturges because I am first and foremost a figure photographer. These two photographers have been very influential in my work over the years, but I needed to bring my figurative work around to toy photography. As I wracked my brain one image came to mind immediately. 

Untitled (falling buffalo) 1988-89 by David Wojnarowicz

I remembered when I first saw this image in Aperture Magazine and it's always stuck with me.  I think it may be the original seed planted way back in the dark ages of my youth that has blossomed into my current plastic passion. When I revisited this image I was startled to find out it was not a toy photograph at all. I had originally misinterpreted (or conveniently forgot) its origins. This was an image taken by David Wojnarowicz of a museum diorama in the late 1980's. (For an excellent analysis of this deceptively simple photography go here.)

The humanity, agony and tragedy captured in this one off image quickly taken in a museum with a film camera with poor lighting before a guard stopped him is a very powerful image to me.  It's one I turn too over and over again in the hopes that I too can create an image as powerful and simple as this one that will stand the test of time. 

So the question I ask you to consider is this: who inspires you? Who are your influences? What are the images that you have seen (in any relevant medium) that inspire you to do your best work?

If you care to share please leave a comment. I would love to know what stokes your creative fire.  

~ xxsjc


Gevaert


It has been hectic this week.

All three winners of the Easter Egg Hunt have been announced on IG (no more pink posts today) and the proof printing has been succesfully completed amongst others.

No big, long or deep posts from me today (I think I may have a few interesting topics lined up for next week) just this old #selfie from 2012 which really felt right to close this weekend from my end.

Old and new paper coming together.

I will leave the deep thoughts for Shelly post later today ...

Me2


Footnotes to self:

Day 8 in my personal challenge.
As always, stay tuned and leave your view in the comments below or on your social platform of choice ...

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Big Is Better


When Shelly mentioned a while ago you should shoot in RAW on the largest format of your DSLR she was of course completely right, but she left a critical piece of information hidden from all of us.

You should not only shoot big, you should also print big on a regular basis.

Printing your pictures on a reasonable "big" size (so not the IG 620*620 size) is your own best and hardest judge.

It will tell you if your shoot really holds out and is ready to be put against your wall.
From your own bedroom over your local coffee shop to your spotlight in the MoMa.

Blowing up your pictures to a reasonable A4 or US letter (we all have a vivid HP printer somewhere to start with and then we can use local print stores as well) and have them printed out on paper not only for that art exhibition we all dream off but also for our own education and continuous improvement.

Prints will give you direct (harsh) feedback on the quality of your shoot you may not see directly on your digital media of choice (iPhone, iPad, iMonitor, ...).

We have been doing some extended proof printing here over the weekend on our latest addition and even blow up some shoots beyond the A4 size, and what looks good on a 620*620 canvas on IG is not always that attractive on a full blown A2 printed size and will need rework.

So, if your only goal is to share pictures on a 72 dpi screen on the internet, printing big is maybe not for you, but if you secretly (or openly) want to fill some walls and conquer the real word you should not only shoot big but also print big on a regular base ...

Me2


Footnotes to self:
Day 7 in my personal challenge.

Our Ski Trooper came along to check out the paper and ink we will be using for the limited edition Easter egg print we organized and saw everything was under control (the above image was just a working proof picture and not the final result)
Image shot with iPhone 5


As always, stay tuned and leave your view in the comments below or on your social platform of choice ... 

Friday, April 25, 2014

Cliff H.



TGIF ...

I always thought animated GIFs was a cool thing of the future and PNG sounded pretty much like an X-rated movie to me, but I never understood TGIF.

Until recently ...

Another fantastic roller coaster week has flew by, and some may have wondered what happened to the Easter Give Away we started a month ago.

And yes, this weekend it is all coming together.

We have the three names of the Easter Egg Hunt safely tucked away and Thanks IG it is Friday for all of us, so we have the weekend to get everything under control.

Three winners, three prints, I am just not sure if I should go for the signed limited edition of our Stormtrooper above in an exclusive 3 printed and signed version, or should let the winners choose their print.

If you would be one of the three exclusive Winners what would you prefer ?

A dedicated, exclusive 3 prints only Stormtrooper signed for you exclusively, or choosing a print from the collections ?

Let us know in the comments below or on your preferred social media platform of choice what you would like to see happen if you are one of the winners ...

Me2

Footnotes to self:
Day 6 in my personal challenge.
A hectic weekend ahead of us ...

As always, stay tuned and leave your view in the comments below or on your social platform of choice ... 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Ouch

Yesterday I shared with you my near win of Captain James T. Kirk and explained why I had recovered it from my mental trash bin after seeing the TED of Sarah Lewis.

As part of my little workflow I had uploaded it to Flickr so I could share it here with you, but could not be bothered by adding tags, sets or submitting it to groups.

Is was after all a near win.

When I returned later today from a set of successful working sessions buried away miles under the sea in a Faraday cage and I unlocked my screen I was surprised to see a lot of favs on Flickr.

Was my Easter Bunny still popular, or did I had a good friend who decided to take a personal like tour on some of my older shots ?

I can tell you I was completely flabbergasted when I discovered James T. Kirk made it to the explore page and I had friendly strangers congratulating me on the "explore" and reached a good 4K views and 59 favs (my average is normally around 400 views and 5 to 10 favs on Flickr).

And this was my near win.

Sweet success on the mystery road to mastery ...

Thank you, mystery Flickr algorithm for selecting me on your explore page today it was a sweet experience !

Me2

Footnotes to self:
Day 5 in my personal challenge.
Picture above shot with an iPhone 5S
Don't forget to check out the near win of Shelly, but please note that viewers discretion is advised.

As always, stay tuned and leave your view in the comments below or on your social platform of choice ... 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

My Latest Near Win

I hope you had a chance to read +Me2's latest blog post "Day IV". Even though he is already suffering from blogging fatigue, it was a good one. If you didn't get a chance to watch the excellent TED talk on the near win by Sarah Lewis, I urge you to give it a view. If you would like the condensed version I refer you to the following quote by Imogen Cunningham
“ Which of my photographs is my favorite? The one I’m going to take tomorrow." 
As an artist I can qualify the near win into two categories. The first is the image that I have created that doesn't meet my expectations. The image I present to you today falls into this category. I really like the image and I felt I got close to the emotion I was trying to convey, a mother watching over her new children. I wanted a leading line towards mom and I will probably need to rearrange them to better achieve that effect. The main reason I will retake this photo is the rock surface; I would have preferred a softer ground for the baby spiders more suggestive of a nursery setting. I do love a challenge and I will be taking this picture again as soon as it stops raining. 

The second type of near win is the dissatisfaction that comes from growing as a photographer. I can't tell you the number of times I have seen an image for the first time as it emerges from the printer and have been blown away by the finished product. But over time familiarity and the emergence of the next new image has me feeling dissatisfied with the first image. No matter how wonderful it might have been at initial glance, I now barely give it a second look. 

It is these near wins that keep me motivated to move forward and to keep making new images. I hope you will value your near wins and realize they are a natural part of growing as a photographer and as an artist.  

~ xxsjc


Day IV


James T. Kirk

Day IV.

A difficult one.
A big personal challenge to get this post out as all my original plans went down the drain and I got stuck in other challenges I cannot talk about.  Remember the NDA ...

Day IV is not an easy one.

I am sure Shelly will recognize the feeling, yet at the same time have a smile and a little "I told you so" in the back of her mind and wonder why I already show the symptoms at day IV and cannot wait another XXIV.

The Personal challenge.

Why would someone sign up for a 365 days challenge, or even a 30 day challenge like Shelly did here when we get every single day other external challenges thrown at us ?

A most challenging question ... indeed.

Only yesterday I was discussing the latest TED with Lara at the gym on Mastery versus Success and the impact of near wins or just not reaching the perfect circle.

And I believe that is why it is important we try to achieve mastery through near wins.
Just not being able to reach perfection, and continue to strive through our personal challenges.

365 days in a row ... trying to reach mastery, not success.

While the above image I shot when meeting Captain James Tiberius Kirk may to some of you appeal as  a great shot, it was in my book a near win and I decided not to post it.

I virtually put it in my mental trash bin.

Sarah Lewis TED post made me (re)visit my near wins and actually share it with you.

So, tell me, what was your near win you encountered recently ?

Me2


Footnotes to self:
Day 4 in my personal challenge (a difficult one).
Picture above shot with a DSLR and minimal edits made in post processing.

Stay tuned and leave your near wins in the comments below ...

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Dark Room

Yesterday I went on a smaller rant and shared my view on what a photo does to me.
Regardless if it is a newspaper headshot, a selfie with an iphone or an artistic fine print.

The picture should tell me a story.
The story of the Misty Mountains or the sexy bathroom in that six star dining place you wanted to share with us.

One picture tells me more as the standard thousand six hundred words in an optimized blog.

So we should get it right, yet not the dentist way (no pun intended as I do have some great dentists in my circle of friends) as I want to feel the emotion in the picture and not just a histogram perfect image.

An image with guts.
An image with a story.
An image with scratches.
An image with pain (and laughter).

Your story.

Emotion, regardless if its is right the photographic way.

And that is what we want to address in the dark room on G+.
Get the emotion right across with the audience.
Does it touches us.
Does it make us smile.
Does it do what you want it to do when you are Stuck In Plastic.



Footnotes to self:
Day 3 in my personal challenge (a milestone).
Picture above shot with a DSLR and minimal edits made in post processing.
Picture above was trying to share the emotion of the last day of the Spring Equinox ...

Stay tuned and leave your view in the comments below ...

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Typewriter


Shelly recently wrote a long and passionate post on why you should use your DSLR and if you missed it, I really suggest you read it.

I fully agree with Shelly on the advantages of a DSLR equipped with a great prime and set to capture RAW when shooting your adventures, yet it is not the camera that makes the shoot.

You will not tell better "stories" because you have a full frame (the FX stuff) body or you have the latest greatest prime.

I am not going to write a long well documented post like Ken did here (I do recommend you read the full post) but will just quote him: "If you can shoot well, all you need is a disposable toy camera or a camera phone to create great work ..."

So it does not matter if you only have your iPhone at hand to make great creative photography and turn what you see in a master piece.

Composition, light, focus, eye for detail, and finally the message you want to share, or like Ansell told us: "The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it..."

So, yes, a DSLR with a great prime on a tripod shot at ISO 100 will help you in getting better print quality and lower your chances for chromatic abberation (or fringe) in your pictures, but that is all secondary.


First and foremost it is about you, and how you see the world and what you want to tell.

This is what photography is about.

The art of telling your story with light.

Me2

Footnotes to self:
Day 2 in my personal challenge.
Picture above shot with an iPhone 5S
I will continue this story tomorrow as it links back directly to what we want to achieve with the dark room

Stay tuned and leave your view in the comments below ...

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Spring Equinox



With the Spring Equinox in full force and the Bunny Crew out and about in the garden to hunt for eggs and candy it is time to sit back.

Sit back, and reflect at some of the postings Shelly made earlier this week here on Stuck In Plastic and the discussions we had in The Foyer and The Dark Room over at G+.

The use of DSLR, the search for the inner self, or the challenge of becoming a better photographer, artist or even brick. 

All very valid questions and challenges and part of the dialogue we want to create with our work here at Stuck In Plastic.

And this is where the problem starts. 

I am not always part of that dialogue and push Shelly in a monologue by being stuck in board rooms on the Death Star and other crazy adventures my NDA does not allow me to talk (let alone blog) about it.

So, let me take this equinox and birthday celebration of Ēostre and Freya and accept the challenge Shelly so clearly lays forward in her latest post.
 
One post a day here at Stuck In Plastic, not for 30 days but until the next summer solstice is upon us ...

Wish me luck !
Me2

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Happy Easter ...

Happy Easter


Happy Easter, Young Ones !

As most of you know, Sweden is always a day ahead of the rest of the world and we celebrate everything on the eve of ... including Easter Eve, Christmas Eve and Midsummer Eve.

I guess this must go back to the times we sent our Vikings™ down under and wanted to be able to share our drinking songs with Australia with a loud and clear "andra sidan är ni klara" and be in the same time zone ...

So, while the Easter Bunnies were pole dancing here in the Stockholm Archipelago at full force, we want to wish you all a Happy Easter egg hunt when you wake up tomorrow morning !?!

Happy Easter !

Friday, April 18, 2014

Challenge Yourself!

This month I took on a 30-day photo challenge offered up by one of the many toy groups on Instagram. I have always resisted the 365 photo-a-day project or other challenges. For one thing, I knew I did not have the discipline to post a photo a day and I also wanted to do my own thing.

But lately I have been feeling lost and unispired.

This challenge has been the perfect antidote. I spend most of my waking days rolling the various words around in my head to see what images come up. Basically this has become an all encompassing pursuit. Of course I will conveniently ignore the fact that I was stuck on the phrase "too much" for three days and be happy for the image I did eventually create. Sure I pulled a couple of photos out of my back pocket (so to speak) that have never seen the light of day, but thats ok. Some times images sit on my iPad until the right time to post reveals itself.

Personally if I end this challenge with nothing other than the image below, I will consider this a month very well spent. One good image in a month of shooting seems like a pretty good ratio to me.

So, if you are feeling blah about your photography or need a little poke in the butt - then sign up for a photo-a-day challenge. You might surprise your self, I know I did.

If you decide to take on a photo-a-day challenge, I will be there to cheer you on!

~ xxsjc



Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Toys Are Alive

One thing that +Me2 and I agree on is that a good image is one in which the viewer makes an emotional connection with the image. As I look back through the last six months of my images I wonder if I can tell the difference. What makes one image of a small plastic person look more alive than another?

Is it the tilt of a head, is it particular movement of the legs, a small gesture of the curved hand or maybe just a trick of the light? It's not like Lego is a particularly moveable, expressive toy figure. Yet some images seem alive while others just lie flat on the screen / paper.

+Me2 and I also agree on the importance of the eyes being in focus. Yet, not all the images I deem to have been successful include faces and in some the eyes are obscured. So while I know this is a part of the equation, I don't think it is the answer.

This may seem like an inconsequential question but I have always approached my toy photography as an attempt to "bring the toys alive". As a young girl my toys were very real to me. We chatted, they listened, they went every where with me and for lack of a better description, they were my friends. I want my viewer to feel what I feel while I document the lives of my little plastic friends.

As always some images are more successful than others and I cherish the ones that achieve that emotional element. I think I would be happy if I could crack the code and help people see how alive my little plastic friends are to me. Until I do, I will keep taking photos and hope people will connect with them as I do.

If you have any tips to help bring the toys "alive" I would love to hear them.

~ xxsjc




Monday, April 14, 2014

A Case Study On Why You Should Use Your DSLR

For those of you out there with lovely DSLR cameras who are loth to use them because they are too large, too bulky, too cumbersome, too complicated, to whatever… I would like to relate a story that I hope will persuade you to get yours out and make friends with it.

Last spring I was getting tired of taking Lego mini figure photos with my iPhone. Yes, it has a great lens and yes it's easy to use and the editing apps and the uploading ease to social media where unparalleled. But I was growing dissatisfied with the results and I was quickly realizing that almost all the really great photographers I admire on Instagram, were using full size cameras.

So I broke down and pulled out my full size DSLR camera. And yes its big and bulky with a complicated interface that sometimes makes my head swim. Luckily all that time I had spent volunteering at KEXP was coming in handy. The boys at the station had definitely been teaching me a thing or two about photography, so this time, the interface was manageable. I tried a few different lenses and settled on an inexpensive 50 mm macro and off I went. I loved the results! Sharp, clear, great depth of field; everything I had been lacking with my phone. I was in heaven!

But like most new photographers I was concerned about storage and file size. I shot my images on the small RAW setting which gave me a file size of 5.5M or 2880 x 1920. I figured this would be more than adequate for my needs and would allow me to blow my images up to a nice size like 8" x 10" (2.4m x 3m). I had a wonderful summer shooting with friends in unusual places and since I was trying lots of different things I was having a lot of success.

When the fall rolled around and I had a chance to show my work in a gallery I quickly realized the images I had created, like the one below, were too small to create the images I wanted to show. I tried in vane to recreate the shots, but like all good images, there was a certain serendipity that was not going to be replicated. So I had to admit defeat, quickly create a few new images and move on knowing I was leaving some of my favorite images on the so called cutting room floor.

So the lesson is shoot big, shoot for the future and know that as you are learning and enjoying the photographic process you will eventually capture great images. And wouldn't it be a shame if that image was on your phone or a small compressed file that didn't allow you to work with it as your other photographic skills grew?

So get out your full size DSLR's, shoot on the largest RAW setting you have and invest in a good storage device (preferably with a back-up system). Because you are not only shooting for today, you are shooting for the future…and who knows what opportunities will come your way.

- xxsjc



Sunday, April 13, 2014

Buy Two Wookie Burgers ...


Are you looking for an exclusive Art piece to make that wall of your board room or penthouse flat just perfect ? 

The easiest is to get a Wookie burger ordered and get an exclusive limited edition signed Me2 print to adore your walls.

A Wookie burger may not be in your sweet spot, but don't worry, you still have a chance to win one of the exclusive prints Me2 is giving away with Easter ...

Just go over and like #stuckinplastic on Facebook and you automatically enter the great Easter egg hunt ... without hurting any Wookie in the process ...


Here is the full background story ...






Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Green Room is Humming

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




Friday, April 11, 2014

The Green Room ...



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 ...



Thursday, April 10, 2014

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





Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Stockholm Syndrome

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 OurJourney ?

(ok there is no official solicitation form, but that is part of the journey and You™know how to contact
Us™)





 


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Fake It 'Till We Make It

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.

- xxsjc



Monday, April 7, 2014

The Flow - Part I


https://flic.kr/p/mRqwpa


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 ... 



Sunday, April 6, 2014

Steal Like An Artist!

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! 

~ xxsjc



Homage to Robert Mapplethorpe

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Faking it or the art of photo editing.

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




into 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?

~ xxsjc

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Instagram as a Tool to a Better You!

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!!

-xxsjc


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Agree to disagree ...

When my partner in crime wrote  "... if this doesn't prove my point that photography has been rendered valueless by the sheer volume of images being produced, I don't know what does ..." I could not disagree more.

I actually would argue very strongly that the sheer volume of images and the same sheer volume of possibilities to take these images actually is the exact reason why we have this discussion and is in essence the reason why I disagree.

The mass production of crayons in the early 1900 by Binney and Smith did not turn the graphical artist using pencil and paper valueless.

Art and the artist in itself have always struggled (and embraced) and will continue to struggle with their own contempary challenges taking into the account the context of its own age (which is what we are doing at this exact moment here).

When S. mentions you can purchase a picture for 250 € all in (and I dont even want to embark on the flawed offering here and all faulty legal assumptions), we are talking about the fundamental difference between stock photography (a craft with sometimes a spark of genius) versus the art, the emotion, the engagement, the creativity, the spark of genius that is not aimed at making money at any cost and want to engage on its own right.

I am sure if I want to make money as a commercial photographer, I can work on my skills as a stock photographer and choose to create iconic photography that looks at the market demands, see what colors are hot, and play the game, ... and sell. Sell my skill set and craft.

At the same time I can choose the try to become a journalistic photographer, an illustrative photographer, a snapshot photographer, a landscape photographer and work my skills or I can boldly state that I am an artist and my photography is no longer a technical craft (remember that chromatic aberration) and I am taking it to the next level where the photo is the message on itself.

An artistic statement.

So, when D. censored the art work of Daniel Josefsohn to protect the integrity of IG users he was making both an artistic and political statement. (see accompanying image) 



So I disagree with S. that volume has rendered photography valueless and it is up to us to step up and define the new standards …

New standards that do include plastic and toys, just as my good old buddy W. included soup cans of Campbells

So, who wants to join the plastic  revolution ?