Sunday, November 30, 2014


Curious what one may find in the dungeons of Stuck In Plastic
Busy days here on Stuck In Plastic.

While Shelly shared the big news with you all on Friday about the very first Stuck In Plastic exhibition in March in Seattle (yes, I am even more stoked as her and very proud to be showing our work in her hometown) some of us have been working in the dungeons of Stuck In Plastic to make this little spot on the web that little bit more interactive and interesting for you.

A better blog with nicer visuals, more interaction and the possibility for you to interact with your own facebook or google account.

A spot where we can continue our blog, and explore the ins and outs of toy photography as an art. Explore what drives us in the why we shoot what shoot.

Continue to engage with artists, toy enthusiasts, collectors and connoisseurs of the fine art of shooting all things stuck in plastic.

Taking Stuck In Plastic to the next level.

Are you interested in taking a sneak peak at the next release of our blog and give some good feedback and poke some holes in the design ?

Go ahead and head over to our beta site at and let us know what you think ?


This is a beta site, so we are still testing a lot of the features, and may have to do a clean install before we move officially next weekend to our new home.

Friday, November 28, 2014

#stuckinplastic: The Exhibition

Our very first picture we posted here on Stuck In Plastic.
One of our goals here at Stuck In Plastic (#stuckinplastic) is to create opportunities to show toy photography away from a computer or hand held device and place it squarely on the walls of fellow fans, board rooms, coffee shops and galleries alike.

To that end I am pleased to announce the very first Stuck In Plastic exhibition which we just branded for now #stuckinplastic: The Exhibition.

My friends +Me2Avanaut and I will be showing our collective works - large, and we mean large- at the Bryan Ohno Gallery in Seattle, USA, Planet Earth for five weeks starting March 5th, 2015.

And yes we want YOU to come and celebrate our very first art exhibition in my hometown with us.

In fact if you are able to make the opening we will all three be in attendance (yes, these two Nordic dudes are coming over to this side of the pond).

Showing my work with these two gentleman is a sincere honor, and the additional opportunity to meet them...well lets just say 2015 is looking very bright indeed.

We will be talking about this exhibition periodically between now and March 5th as our plans take shape and offcourse we are interested in your views, so stay tuned !

I hope you will take time out of your busy schedule and meet up with us for the opening reception on the 5th (or at least help us spread the word). It would be wonderful to turn this into a mini meet up and show the world and beyond (or at least Seattle for now) that we are a force to be reckoned with.

My sincere hope is that this is a grand success so that we can travel #stuckinplastic: The Exhibition to a town near you, add a few more members, and continue to grow this movement.

~ xxsjc

If you would like more information about this, or future exhibitions, please let us know. 
Have you signed up for the Best of 2014 Photographic Challenge? If not, sign up here!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Edward S Curtis

Photography is a wonderful medium that can be used for artistic expression as well as capturing a moment in time; a time that would be lost forever without this photographic record. Someone who understood this powerful truth was Edward S Curtis, a self-taught photographer working at the turn of the 20th century.

When Curtis moved to the Pacific Northwest from the American heartland he fell in love with the natural beauty of the area. He was a naturalist as well as a talented photographer. When he met Princess Angeline, a famous local character as well as Chief Sealth’s daughter, he fell in love with the idea of capturing the image of Native Americans.

More chance meetings by Curtis with the wealthy and well connected led to a life time of pursuing his passion of photographing all Native Americans before their culture vanished forever. He pursued his dream while crisscrossing vast distances of the continental United States while dragging along his 14” x 17” camera and the corresponding glass plates he exposed his images on. (Think of that the next time you complain about your “large” DSLR camera).

I realize his methods are often criticized, and the authenticity of the subjects are brought into question, but without his efforts we wouldn’t even have this much of a record. The images he captured are simply beautiful.

If you want to read one account of his life please check out Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis. If you visit Seattle you can stop by Chihuly: Garden and Glass where there is displayed 25 stunning Curtis’s alongside original Native American rugs and baskets. It seems our own local celebrity Dale Chihuly (read: famous glass artist) was inspired by the work of Curtis and the Native Peoples.

~ xxsjc

Today is Thanksgiving in my country. A day when we traditionally take stock of what we are grateful for, spend time with our families and remember our countries origin story.With that in mind, what are you grateful for?

If you would like to know what I am grateful for you can read this, this and this.
Have you signed up for the Best of 2014 Photographic Challenge? If not, sign up here!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Explicit Lipstick Inside

Only yesterday we wondered if LEGO was crippling our future generations of Astronauts, Scientists and Female Pirates alike and we got some great reactions on all our social platforms.

Most (if not all) of you were pretty conviced the future of Planet Earth was not at risk, and we could count on the wisdom and imagination of our younger generation to take the dollhouses and spaceships into the future, regardless of gender.

One post went a few steps further and actually gave a very thorough walk-through of gender diversification throughout the history of this little brick we call minifig.

A post I could not let be hidden in the comments, and really needs it place here on the main page for all of you to enjoy.

A post by Serhat aka telefonfotografcisi:

" ... I believe that the Lego Group are also dealing with the same concern everyday, from a commercial point of view since their target sales heavily relies on the answer(s) to this question.

Since Lego produced the ancestors of today’s modern minifigures back in 1978, they used almost no features to distinguish the characters, rather than those basic hats for the stereotype male and ponytail hair for his female counterpart. They had identically smiling faces with black button eyes, and their skin color was chosen yellow on purpose so that it does not reflect any racial difference. (Note that only a decade back, the people were being killed on streets of US depending on their skin color. –maybe not very different than today..) This may be considered a very clever move for the company for many coming years.

But things started to change with the first Pirates theme (one of my all time favorites) released back in 1989. The figs were still those yellow guys (and a few gals) but since you could not think of any pirates without eye-patches and long beards (mascular reference, again), the faces began to change. The expression on their face was still that same euphoric smile, but now the men had beards and mustaches while the first female fig with lipsticks came into ranks. In a few years, they would start to differ in terms of facial expressions and this would spread in nearly all Lego themes, Castle and Town to just name a few.

But the female population were still short in number according to men. Think of all those knights, henchmen, cavalry, pirates and soldiers.. This was not a world for cute ladies! Except of course, the unmistakable “Maiden” of Castle series, the female forest ranger and the female pirate. You will see that these are still amongst the highest priced figs on the web if you can find them in good shape.

Even the Western series did not attempt to change the iconic yellow skin color in 1996 when they introduced the Indians (natives of America, not that of India) But in time, another iconic property of all figs would start to differ: Their age! Those tiny people were ageless for a long time, and now they started to show their experience of life with white hair and likes, while we were about to see the first children characters with shorter and unmovable leg parts in the coming years.

Yet, as always, what changed the game was again the commercial concerns. In 2003, Lego Group decided to release the NBA star players theme, an officially licensed one. Now we had figs that resembled the real players, and they had to introduce new skin colors to manage that. (Btw, need one of those heads to make my Bob Marley fig!) After that, Lego Group spread into many officially licenced themes ranging from Super Heroes to the Lord of the Rings, and inevitably new tones of colors spread amongst the figs, reflecting the variety of humanbeings in real life.

However, the subject was the gender inequality of minifigs, wasn’t it? The introduction of Collectable Series, which took many of us AFOLs back in the game, used the opportunity to fix the problem quite successfully. I did not personally count them but I’d guess at least 1/3 of them or more are females in each series. Add to that the female characters from licenced series (ah, the Wonder Woman!) and dedicated series such as Friends, now it seems a little more balanced, doesn’t it?

So, let’s go back to the original question and finally finish this unlikely history lesson: Is Lego trying to stereotype the minifig nation and favoring the macho male against the outnumbered females? I believe not. Because I really do not think of them as male or female characters when I shuffle up in my collection. I see them as representatives of real people, and just like in real life, they are humanbeings for me first... 

 Before being male or female, old or young, even hero or villain ..."

Thank you telefonfotografcisi for sharing this rich history with us, I really enjoyed it.

I did a quick count at the latest series 13 and I count actually 9 female species on first observation out of 15.  How many did you count ?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Parental Advice: LEGO inside.

Photo Credit: Fryd_Lego
The last few days my social network was buzzing with this great Parental Advice picture, popping up from all sides with a little thumbs up, big smile or just a simple so true ... focusing on the true positive message of creativity and imagination (at least that is how I read it) when we talk about doll houses and space ships alike.

When Fryd posted the image on I am not sure he wanted to start the whole controversy about gender, just launched a hoax or genuinely wanted to share a picture from the 70's.

The buzz got quickly picked up in some other articles like this one here on IFL where the focus shifted really to the gender focus of the latest LEGO Friends series and includes a full featured video of Anita Sarkeesian giving a pink colored overview of the LEGO history since the early 70's including some great sets like Paradisa, Scala and Belleville.

If you have a few minutes to spare, the two video feeds are really worth while watching and reveals a world conspiracy of male domination in the sequel of the series (or just great selective editing skills of Anita ?) and turns LEGO into a dominating evil Big Inc. responsible for male domination.

I am not going to argue with Anita that LEGO has a male, testosterone filled side in some areas and there is a good amount of macho in some of the material shown (now who is the true heroine in The LEGO Movie ?) yet I never felt like LEGO was giving me an unbalanced world view dominated by male supremacy, merely giving me the opportunity to build spaceships and doll house alike.

Now, I may be biased, given that my gender is off the wrong side, but there are so many fantastic great female "legographers" out there that I am curious in your view points ?

Is it worth the discussion ?

Is LEGO crippling our future generation of scientists, astronauts and pirates alike ?

Have you ever considered not to purchase a LEGO set because the amount of male and female characters were not equal ?

Is LEGO stereotyping a whole generation, and we all should stop shooting with the bricks and move on to others like Hello Kitty to safeguard the next generations ?

Your Thoughts ?  

Monday, November 24, 2014

Captain Kaos

In less than two months I will have the pleasure of heading to Las Vegas, NV, for a toy photographers meet up. When I started planning this event with my friends Dinoczars, Bricksailboat and +LEGO Wiiman I had no idea anyone would be interested in joining us.

So imagine my elation when one of my favorite toy photographers, Matt Rhode (otherwise known as  x_capatain_kaos_x) was one of the first to commit! Matt is one of the more interesting and best known characters active in the Instagram toy community. 

I've been following the good Captain for much of my nearly three years on Instagram. I've watched both his photography and storytelling skills grow. His mastery of the "flying shot" is nothing less than stunning. I think there are very few people who can make an inert bit of plastic look as alive as this guy can. 

His Stormtroppers are not the hapless stooges of Vader, but fun loving daredevils that live life to the fullest. Whether they are cliff diving or Para-Leafing they make the most of what they have (and I never doubt for a minute that they are actually doing all these things). His flying shots are a constant source of inspiration to me.

Successful Drop by Matt Rohde

Even though Matt has a wonderful cast of recurring characters, Stan the Stormtrooper, Frank from Donnie Darko and Gojira to name a few, my favorite is the Skeleton from Jason and the Argonauts. His quest to find Winter and slay him is priceless on every level: the staging, the story line, his never ending alcohol stupor all combine for pure poetry. I look forward to more crazy antics from this lovable character.

Why Me? by Matt Rohde

Of course it's not all fun and games in Matt's world, especially when the going gets rough. I can't help but think his military background leads an authenticity to his battle scenes that few other photographers can match. I will admit his story lines can get too violent for my tastes (and the exuberance for the violence exhibited in the comments by his admirers I find a little disturbing), but I realize that this only reflects the world we live in. As I find myself retreating into my own form of magical realism it is good to know that there are other photographers willing to keep it far more real.

It will be interesting to see how we all get along when we meet up in Las Vegas. It is risky to take the anonymity out of our friendships, but I am sure that our mutual respect will carry us through. 

If you're interested in seeing how this all plays out in person, feel free to join us in Las Vegas in January, we can always find room for one more. In the mean time head over the @x_captain _kaos_x on Instagram and check out his toy photography and all those beautiful stories in detail. 

~ xxsjc

Have you ever meet someone you have followed on Instagram and how did it go?
Who do you follow on Instagram that you would love to meet in person? 

Saturday, November 22, 2014



I am just returning to The Studio after a full week of intergalactic travel for Big Inc.

The third week of intergalactic travel, discoveries and planning ahead for next year with Darth and Co, all wrapped up under non disclosure agreements  and other legal mumbo jumbo, a great deep dive with corporate Inc and C types alike.

Three weeks of limited activity in The Studio shooting new, yet sufficient time to prepare for my most significant twelve on the intergalactic carriers I have explored the last few weeks.

I am really getting ready to put the finishing touch to this little booklet of 2014 epicness and share with you.

Twelve hand picked pictures of this year, wrapped up in one shiny booklet to be there as a lifetime memory to look back on 2014.

It is not to late for you to join into the fun and sign up here or read everything about it here if you are new to this exclusive 2014 photo exchange here on Stuck In Plastic.

I have a few more questions that I want to ask you, but first things first.

Getting my 12 most significant ones selected.

Would you like to see Green or Curtiz included in my twelve ones ?


Looking for more adult content with a twist ? 
Have a look at the latest post of Shelly here, as she introduces us to a company that takes the performing arts of bricks to the next level.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Citizen Brick

I love Lego but sometimes I can't assemble the right mini figure for my next photograph. That's when its great to have the option of turning to a third party supplier like Citizen Brick .

Obviously Citizen Brick isn't for everyone. Their custom mini figs tend to live on the wilder side of the tracks than your typical brick citizen. For example you can purchase the cast of Breaking Bad as well as the complete cast of Game of Thrones if that is you're thing. 

Personally I love this fellow pictured above who is so aptly named the "Ink Enthusiast". He fills a void in my collection that Lego hasn't been able to fill. Not all Citizen Brick's figures are this "adult", they also have a super cute collection of cub scouts. I am pretty sure one of these will find its way into my son's stocking this Christmas. 

So next time you are looking to spice up your mini figure collection, stop by the fine folks at Citizen Brick. While you are their, don't forget to check out their excellent selection of zombie heads and custom tiles.

Have a great weekend and I hope you have time to play with some bricks!

~ xxsjc

Do you have a favorite 3rd party supplier of custom accessories?
Do you think Citizen Brick have taken their customs too far for a child's toy?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Life of a Project

While everyone is getting their books together for the epic 2014 Photo Exchange I thought I would remind you of this post from earlier this year "Two Steps Back..."

No matter what your project is, no matter how big or small it is, you will move along a very familiar path. From your very first eureka moment, to the emergence of those first doubts nibbling away at your confidence, to the very depths of despair when you don't think it will ever get done... we have all been there.

I am currently somewhere between "It will be good to finish because I'll learn something for the next time" and "Its done and it sucks, but not as bad as I thought." Personally I am grateful for even this.

As you work on your "best of" book or your next big artistic project, know that the life of a project is a nasty little roller coaster ride that every artist chooses to take. You are not alone, we have all been there.

And no matter how bad that roller coaster ride is, its better than the alternative...doing nothing.

~ xxsjc

Have you experienced this emotional artistic roller coaster before?
How do you handle those inevitable artistic self doubts?
Have you read Steal Like an Artist

Run Away!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

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. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Who Inspires You?

The hardest thing about keeping going with any project, be it toy photography or landscape photography is the concept of challenging yourself. Instagram is filled with people who take essentially the same photo over and over again.

I know I can be accused of this as much as the next person. 

So I want to take a moment to talk about someone who seems to be challenging himself on a daily basis: +east mountain.  Even though he is nearing the end of his 365 daily photo challenge he continues reinventing his photography style. Sure you can attribute some of this to his desire to master the basic concepts of photography since he is relatively new to the hobby, but most people do not take it to this level. 

If you look back through his photos he has played with different lenses, natural elements like fire, water and sand, as well as experimenting with a variety of lighting styles. Just thinking about the amount of effort that goes into these shoots is a bit mind blowing, but at the same time I am inspired to push myself in a similar way. 

Ok maybe I'm not going to start melting my mini figures, but I know I am capable of accomplishing more than what I am doing. 

It is easy to look to the likes of Avanaut for inspiration but don't stop there. There is as much to be learned from the new kids like East-Mountain, as from the masters.

~ xxsjc

Who inspires you?
How do you keep your work looking fresh?
Do you have any inspirational tricks you can share with the community? 

Monday, November 17, 2014

To Each His Own Way Be True

It is a real pleasure sharing this blog with two people I have tremendous respect for: Me2 and Avanaut. We each bring different insights and working styles to a subject we all love: photographing toys.

Recently Avanaut talked about is penchant for re-editing his photos, months or years after he took them. Considering how much effort he puts into his set ups I can see the value of looking at older photos to see if any gems fell through the cracks.

Me2 also talked about his need to spend days or weeks on an idea before it comes to fruition. To me this is consistent with the elaborate stories he constructs around his subjects.

I am here to tell you that there is another way.

When I pack my mini figs for an outing I will take 20-40 mini figs with me always keeping in mind my destination and their relationships. I put some thought into variouse scenarios that seem interesting, grab a few accessories and head out into the big wild world. I never know what I am going to come back with. I like to see what my muse will present to me in terms of interesting lighting and macro environments.

This photo is a prime example of a character I have been sitting on for awhile. I love Mrs Puff but her body shape and lack of movement has me stumped. When I was crawling around on some lava rocks recently, this channel presented itself and I put Mrs Puff on one end and my camera on the other. Honestly it is my favorite photo from this latest trip. I feel I can put Mrs Puff aside now, I have done her justice and I will move onto one of the other 300+ characters I have yet to photograph.

Frankly I shoot from the hip, not for instant gratification, but because the unexpected is more interesting to me. I like to think of it as cooking. I have a few different ingredients that I mix together and I never quite know what is going to come out of the oven (read "camera").

So don't worry if your photographs aren't pre-visualized or you don't have elaborate sketches that you are working from. That method works great for some people, but there are many different ways to achieve your goal. You just have to keep shooting until you find the method that works best for you.

~ xxsjc

Hiding from Sponge Bob

Sunday, November 16, 2014


Bacon is good for me !

Another roller-coaster week it has been here on Stuck In Plastic.

A roller-coaster of great posts, great feedback, great emotions, and some other awesomeness around the corners.

We grew this week a fantastic 200 new friends on facebook. Thank You.

We grew to an average of plus 200 reads a day here on Stuck In Plastic in the last few weeks. Thank You.

We launched a fantastic book exchange program for your Xmas tree and you guys and gals are selecting you epic twelve. Thank You.

We outed ourselves and a few more in being Stuck In Plastic Photographers, and you all got very engaged. Thank You.

We looked back at our own Stuart and what responsibilities come with being Stuck In Plastic.

And some more ...

A roller-coaster week of great epicness, awesomeness and a little bit of bacon along the lines.

A week of exploring our boundaries and getting ready for the Xmas season.

Another week of being with You, exploring with You, sharing with You ...

Thank You !

You can still sign up for our epic twelve book exchange here.

What topic would you like to see addressed before Xmas ?
What do you feel is missing here on Stuck In Plastic ?
What do you really like and want to see and hear more of ?

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Who's Your Stuart?

I've received the most wonderful feedback on my photographs over the years. All, and I mean all feedback has been supportive and positive and it makes me very happy. I've been very lucky with this, I know.

There's one particular comment that I have kept in my heart because, having been in Flickr for just a few months by the time, it just took my breath away. I keep a screengrab of it on my desktop as a reminder of the fact that you never know who's out there. Here, take a look:

I do not know who or where Stuart is, I can only hope he had a great time with his Lego. Stuart is often on my mind when I write the little stories to my photographs, for me he's forever ten years old and you can't write just anything to a ten year old. This is why you do not find sex, violence or foul language in my photostreams. There is a certain amount of responsibility that comes with a Stuart, I try to keep that in mind at all (upload)times.

But, you know, that is just my Stuart. Do you have a Stuart?

Friday, November 14, 2014

How long does it take you ?

Awesome. Lets have some FUN

While some of us seem to have a challenge with coming out of the closet and openly share their passion for being stuck in plastic, I have a complete different question for you to kickstart the weekend.

How long does it take you ?

How long does it take you between getting a great idea and putting it out there for all of us to enjoy ?

Avanaut just shared recently it can take him years to get it all right but I am more interested in the idea to first edition question.

In the past, it took me between a few minutes (time to take a selfie) to maximum a few hours to get it all right, shot, edited and out there in the big pool of instant gratification, ready to receive likes.

Today it takes days or even weeks (dare I say months) before an idea is put into a creative shoot and published as a first edition.

I would not be capable of running a 365 project at all.

Is it age, maturity, lack of time or just plain rebellion against the here and now instant gratification.
I dont know but it is for sure not a writers block or an artistic lack of ideas.

It is just ... it takes more time.
It needs more thought.
It needs planning.
It needs lightening, stagehands, and the full Me2 Crew
It needs to be pixel perfect on FX mode.
It needs more time ...

So, how long does it take you ?

Have you ever went to great lengths to take a shot and then eventually decide to NOT publish it ?
Have you ever taken a piece of paper and drawn out the complete scenery ?
Have you ever considered getting a smoke machine into your scenery ?
Have you ever considered renting additional glass (read lenses) because the once you have dont support the right idea ?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Bone Clocks

This week I have been lucky enough to step away from my everyday responsibilities and sit on a sandy beach. When traveling I always take a few mini figures and a good book.

I am currently reading the new novel by David Mitchell, author of The Cloud Atlas. About half way through the book I come across this:
Nothing attunes you to the beauty of the quotidian like a man who decides not to kill you after all. Scoop up the detritus I knocked to the floor: my pen holder, a plastic spoon, a memory stick, my Lego Man collection. Juno, Anais, and I send one another packets as jokey presents. I'm up to five: spaceman, surgeon, Santa, Minataur--bugger. Who am I missing? I'm on my knees hunting for the fifth among the power cords when my laptop trills.  ~ excerpt from The Bone Clocks: A Novel by David Mitchell
Wow! I kept reading and soon find out that the missing figure from his collection is actually a significant plot point.

Has the Lego collectable mini figure just moved out of interesting sub culture and hit main stream? Or was it just a matter of time before this popular toy would get name checked by a hugely popular contemporary author? Whatever is going on here I feel that something important just happened.

I just so happened to have packed the figure mentioned in the book that went missing from the desk. As my husband is always quick to remind me, there is no such thing as a coincidence.

~ xxsjc

Have you ever come across the Lego mini figure mentioned in literature before?
Do you think this is a significant event or am I just too close to the subject?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Say It Loud...

It's not easy being a toy photographer. 

If you happen to take photos of Lego outside I'm sure you've had a few awkward moments. You know the ones I'm talking about, the ones where people look at you in that weird "What are you doing?" sort of way. Or how about the time you told your friends (or family) that you photograph toys and there only response was a blank look. 

We have all been there. 

Instead of feeling ashamed of this wonderful hobby, each one of these interactions is an opportunity to engage, educate and  hopefully create a connection with a like minded individual. The trick is finding a way to connect in a way that is both accessible and informative.  

I've been rather glib when people ask me what I do, I simply respond that I take pictures of Lego. They immediately give me that blank look indicating a total lack of understanding until I whip out my iPad and show them. Generally their response is enthusiastic and we have a great conversation. 

After reading "Show Your Work!" by Austin Kleon I realize I have to do a better job. I need to be respectful of my audience and myself by providing an answer that better describes what I'm doing, is brief and accessible. I was considering going with "I'm a bookkeep that takes pictures of Lego mini figures in the wild." This is not entirely accurate but it would certainly start a conversation.

I'm proud of the toy photography community I am a part of. I want the world to know what an amazing art movement this is. So I am going to stop being glib and take more time to help people understand what is going on. 

In the mean time, the next time you're lying on the ground and getting "that look" from some passerby, know you are in good company. 

~ xxsjc

Have you ever been stopped on the street and asked what you are doing?
Do you feel foolish lying on the ground to get that perfect shot?
How do you describe your photographic hobby to you family?

A behind the scenes photo of me in action today. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

A Freezing Cold Gathering

A "wampaweekend" took place last weekend, it was another in a series of events created by a bunch of guys over at Instagram. The events are about toyphotographs and they take place on certain days with certain themes which are announced a few weeks before the events take place. The ethos on these events is refreshing, there are no judges, no points or rewards, it's not a contest. It's purely about having some fun with a pre-designated theme. You can determine the level of the challenge yourself, but you still won't win anything.

This one got started from a joke I made on a photo a few weeks ago. Some of the events were just one day long and I made a humorous remark that a full weekend would be bigger. I threw in the wampa because it rhymed with weeked. To my surprise, the guys took the joke on and invited me to be a guest host.

I've never really participated much on things like these, but this is different. I like the angle on these particular events very much (as in "no contest"), it should encourage all people to participate, young and old. If you have access to a camera and something even close to the theme in question to shoot, you're good to go. When the subject is so close to what I think dearly of (snow and Hoth), a world I've visited frequently with my camera, how could I ever refuse an invitation like this? In fact, it was an honor.

The weekend was a lot of fun and there were a good number of wampa photographs. I was told this was the biggest event yet. You can see them with the hashtag #wampaweekend on Instagram.

You might also like to check out the feeds of these Instagrammers for past and future events: @smokebelch2, @east_mountain, @brett_wilson and @zenith_ardor.

Oh, yes, I'm there, too: @avanaut.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

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 ?

Saturday, November 8, 2014

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.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

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? 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Marketing Beast

I have been reading Show Your Work, the follow-up to Steal Like an Artist. I can't say I am as enamored with it as I was with his first book. I was really hoping it would be full of interesting tidbits that would spark interesting conversations and future blog posts.

But all it has done is make me feel depressed about how much work it will take to get my work known; especially outside the rather insular (but fun) toy photography community. 

Here are some samples of what he recommends:
  • Show your process, reveal what is going on behind the scenes.
  • Share something on social media everyday.
  • Build a website to showcase your work.
  • Share what inspires you.
  • Tell good stories about your work.
  • Network every chance you get.
  • Teach what you know.
  • Listen as much as you speak.
  • Make connections and turn those connections into real life friends. 
Ok, I confess, I really like this last one. But the rest of the list makes m feel exhausted before I have even begun. If you want to pursue the details you can buy the book and see if I missed anything relevant. 

Marketing is a lot of work and honestly this is where most artists fail. You have to spend about 10 hours of marketing your work for every hour you spend making it. Personally I would rather be out photographing, editing (re-editing) and printing my work than writing blog posts and working the social media channels. But the world we live in now requires this of me. 

I tell my photographer friends (who are much better than I am) that they are nobody because they don't have an internet presence. Is this true? Of course not! 

Or maybe it is.

~ xxsjc

How much time do you spend marketing your artistic creations?
Do you agree or disagree with me?

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

I Need a Plan

I'm running as fast as I can and it's not fast enough. I am trying to be a full time artist on a part time basis. This is a fools errand and I think I may end up making myself crazy.

My husband and I talk about the tradeoff between keeping the photography fun and taking it to the next level. Certainly keeping it at the level it is now, where it is a fun and relaxing hobby, is appealing. But the artist in me wants to kick it up a notch. Unfortunately, those projects take a lot of time and energy.

It would be wonderful to have a patron system alive and well in the arts world. But like all the other arts, (i.e. music and literature) the internet has changed the way we sell our work. There is no mythical "other" to support the arts, be it big business or a rich patron. Each artist is tasked with creating work then marketing and selling it. We are asked to tweet, blog, make connections, maintain a web site, amass a mailing list, etc... all while creating ground breaking works of art or literature.

"To achieve great things, two things are needed; a plan, and not quite enough time."  Leonard Bernstein

Well, I definitely don't have quite enough time, now I just need a plan.

~ xxsjc

Do you find that you don't have enough time to realize all your creative ambitions?
How do you prioritize?

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Happy Inc.

Visiting the American Dream
We are not shy from asking difficult questions to our inner selves here on Stuck In Plastic, and both Shelly and me touched upon our influences with Big Inc. in a variety of posts, including this latest one where I wondered if having a boardroom exposition at Shell would be off limits.
This weekend I had the pleasure to visit the history of another Big Inc. in the city of Atlanta, Georgia. One that turns universal happiness into a bottle of fizzing pleasure, and while my European roots sometimes got an overdose of too much sweet and happiness, it was an awesome journey through The Coca Cola Company history.
An history that started with an artist pharmacist called John Pemberton and a fantastic marketeer listening to the name of Asa Candler.
A story that may have had a hidden reference to Van Gogh but given that I was so overwhelmed with the happiness inside, this only dawned on me once I was outside again.

Howard Finster at the World Of Coca Cola

The Coca Cola Company is for sure part of Big Inc. yet it plays its role in the art scene.

From being a major pop culture sponsor today over art projects like the 1996 Olympics when more than 70 artists around the world, including Howard Finster turned their cow bottle into art to using advertising artists of the highest level with people like Haddon Sundblom to create a complete generation of pop art culture (or should I say pin up) around the American Dream.

I am still very much fascinated by the influence of Big Inc. on the Art scene.

An influence that goes far beyond sponsering an exhibition or endorsing an artist on a new product release.

Big Inc.

To be continued.


Saturday, November 1, 2014

The Long Road to a Finished Photo

I am guilty of looking back from time to time. No, I am not the type of guy who only listens to old music because new stuff supposedly sucks, you know those guys, what I mean is that I have a hard time letting some of my photographs go. I return to them from time to time and re-edit them to see if the original edit can be improved. It may be just a little thing with colours, maybe with how the image has been cropped or just tweaks in contrasts and exposure. In the most extreme case it was a shoot, then a re-shoot, after that a re-edit of the re-shoot before I called it done. This took four years.

Editing photos from RAW is also not just about knowing the techniques, it's also about choices. Sometimes I didn't really succeed in either of those. There are things in the process I did not know how to do just a couple of years ago, and these little discoveries can make a big difference with certain photographs.

I do this because I want to learn, not because I do not like what I have done originally. By editing the same image again after a while I get a second chance with something I already know; on the second take I know what to look for. Somehow I feel this helps me to understand the editing process better than editing something entirely new. It's like practising to play a musical instrument by playing the same song again and again.

I don't replace the originals to the newly edited, but if there is a significant difference, I may post it again.

This one I posted again, "The Call of the Wild" (a nod to Jack London stories). The original on the right (from March 2011) is almost straight from the camera with very little edits, a tighter crop being the most obvious one. The one on the left has a new crop (or, rather, isn't cropped at all), the composition allows the image to breathe a little, the colours are more vivid and I dug the wampa out of the shadows. Now, after three years, I think this image is finally done.