Happy Christmas!

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It’s Christmas guys! Happy Christmas!!

I’ve failed pretty considerably with keeping my blog up to date this year (whoops!) but life has just got away from me!

Let’s do a quick recap of my year as a toy photographer:

On top of all that I went to the Lake District for a quick 30th birthday trip, as well as spending 2 weeks in Northern Sweden, enjoying the summer rain!

It’s been a busy year, so I’m okay with the blog dropping to the side. You will probably see more of me in 2018 by virtue of that fact that I will be a regular blogger for Toy Photographers! As I won’t be stressing about my daily photo project either, I should have a little more time on my hands!

So, until next year, take a look at my updated portfolio, eat lots of festive foods and have a great Christmas!

Behind the scenes with Stuck in Plastic

Back in September, I went on the Edinburgh toy safari with the Stuck in Plastic gang. I actually ended up taking relatively few toy photos, but I did get quite a lot of behind the scenes shots! The reason for this is that we were shooting photos for a small exhibition at BrickLive in Birmingham. Now that’s all over, I can finally share some of the photos here!

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@chrisrosephoto in action
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@iancockayne indulging in some non-toy photography
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@herrsm taking part in the one toy to share project
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@reiterlied capturing Woody and friends
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@shtacyp practicing her toy photography yoga positions
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@fubiken taking a break
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@_me2_ enjoying the Scottish weather
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@pulup getting some graveyard snapshots

This is but a small selection of the behind the scenes shots I took. You can check out the full album over on my Flickr album.

I’m actually still working through the toy photos that I have left on my hard drive, so expect some more Scottish photos to head this way in the next couple of weeks!

 

Series 17 minifigures

It’s time to get searching for your new minifigure friends! The Series 17 minifigures are out in the wild and you will want to find this bunch as soon as possible!

I took my gang out over the weekend to photograph, and I’m mostly pleased with the results. Sadly I was a little careless and managed to lose a French beret and a bunny rabbit in the depths of the garden! Eek! I’m hoping that they will appear randomly one day!

Take a look at the end of the post for some hints and a link to a full on ‘feel guide’ by Brothers Brick. I’m sadly lacking in the time to write my own full one this time around!


Pro Surfer

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Everybody loves surfing! Right? Well, if you are a pro surfer you do. And you have the coolest gear in town to prove it. (I can’t help but think the shark looks more shocked than scary!)

Circus Strongman

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Roll up, roll up, the circus is in town! Could you imagine getting a full classic circus set to go with the strongman? Wouldn’t it be amazing! As it is, this moustache wielding, weightlifting fella will draw in the crowds all by himself!

Gourmet Chef

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Let’s break some eggs. Gourmet chef may know her way around the kitchen, but that doesn’t mean she won’t make a mess in the process. Be prepared to eat some tasty baking, and then clean the kitchen from top to bottom!

Corn Cob Guy

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Where corn is growing, there will be a corn cob guy to watch over it. He’ll protect your crops from the nasty bugs so come summertime you can BBQ all the corn you want!

Veterinarian

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She used to be a regular vet, but one day she volunteered at the monkey sanctuary. Now, she can’t get enough of the monkeys and wants to hang out with them all day! It’s just a little tricky to get them to sit still long enough for a check up!

Hot Dog Vendor

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Hot dogs, hot dogs, get your hot dogs here! This chap loves to sell hot dogs and drinks! And just see how tasty that hot dog looks! Mmm, two over here please! And some fries with that!

Butterfly Girl

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This pretty little butterfly girl loves to play with the flowers. Spring is her favourite time of year and you will always find her outside, even if it is raining.

Roman Gladiator

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The crowds will go wild for this roman gladiator. If only he can survive the arena that is. But his aim is always true, and he knows how to fight, so his chances are good!

Connoisseur

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This Parisian loves his baguettes and goes and gets a fresh one every morning. His puppy still needs a little training though – he keeps jumping up for hugs when the connoisseur is trying to get through the door!

Battle Dwarf

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If it’s fighting you need doing, then call on battle dwarf. He will climb the highest cave wall to come and help, bringing his axe and hammer to fight with.

Retro Space Hero

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When you have a yellow cape and a ray gun, you know you are the best retro space hero in town. Clambering across the battle field to save the damsel in distress, he will always be there to save the day.

Yuppie

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‘Hello, hello? Yes, the 80s are calling and we want the yuppies back.’ This 80s dude is at the height of coolness, with that chunky mobile and the white suit. I wonder if he has snake on that phone?

Rocket Boy

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Rocket boy loves rockets and space. So he built a rocket costume and a flag to plant on the moon. Now he just needs to work out how to get there!

Dance Instructor

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“Dance magic dance…” It’s time to get moving, grooving and work up a sweat. Join the dance instructor for a great workout to some timeless 80s classics in the ballet studio!

Elf Maiden

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When you are an elf, it’s not only the men who take up arms and fight. They have some kick-ass women warriors too. Check out the sword skills of this elf maiden and be sure to flee before she notices you watching!

Mystery character (AKA the Highwayman)

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I’m not sure why the big mystery surrounding the highwayman, but he is a pretty good figure. Just make sure you don’t get on the wrong side of him as he doesn’t take kindly to trouble. He likes causing it, but not dealing with it.


Tips for successful searching

  • Hold the corner of a bag and shake until any little pieces fall to one side. This makes it easier to feel them out away from the leaflet and stand.
  • Use the Brothers Brick guide to work out key things to feel for in the packet. Think about what something might feel like.
  • Don’t be embarrassed! Talk to the shop assistant if they are right there watching you. They are usually bored so any distraction will entertain them!
  • Make a pile of the packets you want separately to the ones you are looking for. Get a basket so others don’t pick up your carefully selected pile.
  • Find a copy of the leaflet to use as a checklist for what you need or buy one packet first to get a copy. Take it and a pen.
  • Start at one side of a box and work through it methodically rather than randomly. Keep track of what packets you have already looked through so you don’t feel the same packet multiple times.

Who are you looking for this time around? Which figures do you really want to take out to photograph?

Location, location

Last weekend I went to London with a bunch of other toy photographers, many of which I first met in Hamburg last year. You can see my post about it over on Stuck in Plastic.

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Over the weekend I took a lot of pictures, but not as many as I would have thought. We shot in a number of places along the way, some spots I had planned. Other places were more accidental discoveries. In no particular order, some of my favourite locations are represented below:

The fog machine at Tate Modern

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Tiny dancer

We stumbled upon an art exhibition at the Tate Modern by Fujiko Nakaya that turned water vapour into fog. Something perfect for toy photography, even if it made us all wish we had brought a towel along! This wasn’t something I knew was happening when we set out our walk, but it was so much fun!

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Shooting a TARDIS
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Pre-historic London

The pool at the V&A

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One place I knew existed was the pool within the courtyard at the V&A in South Kensington, our first stop on the Sunday morning. It was wonderfully quiet when we got there just after opening. It was a perfect Spring day as well so we got some nice time in the sun too!

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Spaceman in the lake

South Bank skate park

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Skater Boy

Another stop I knew would be fun to shoot in was the South Bank skate park. It didn’t have too many people in there which gave our toys a chance to try out their skills.

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Skatersaurous

Underground trains

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Danbo on the underground

One place I didn’t consider when planning the weekend was the underground. On Sunday morning we found ourselves in a relatively empty train which let us have a short photo session. Not the best photos in the world as it’s pretty hard to do this on a moving train, but certainly something I would like to try again!

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Grr. Argh.

What are your favourite locations to shoot in when you are out and about? Do you prefer to have an idea where you want to go, or just look for good places when you get somewhere?

The garden as a studio

A while ago, Shelly wrote a post about creating a studio for photography outdoors and I’ve been thinking about the concept. I don’t really have a studio such as she discussed; there’s not something I have set up to simulate the environment I  want to photograph. However, there are a couple of places within my garden that I regularly use to take toy photos so I thought a little ‘behind the scenes’ would be cool, to see where I have taken most of my recent photos!

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This is the rear part of our garden. It’s primarily used for growing things, although you can also access a local pokèstop at the end of it, so I tend to wander round it a lot in the summer. It has lots of great places for shooting toys, but in particular, I gravitate to the tree. In particular, the main branch of the apple tree.

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I tend to use this several times a week, especially for my recent objects series. It’s perfect. It’s got just enough flat space to stand a few figures or accessories on, it’s got interesting textures, and really importantly, it’s at eye height. This means I don’t have to crouch down and strain my legs too much (I have ongoing issues).

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There’s also the fact that depending on what time I make it to the garden and the time of year, the sun comes low just behind it, making for some pretty sun flares!

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The other place in the garden I consider a kind of ‘studio’ is fairly new to me; a broken, moss covered, paving slab. It creates a beautiful green grassy environment that really sparks a sense of nature in toy photos.

It starts out like this:

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and then becomes this:

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and finally, with the addition of some small toys, we can create a pretty green world:

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My biggest problem with this is the location on the ground! It’s a really muddy part of the garden so sitting isn’t really an option! I am tempted to try and move the slab somewhere else, perhaps a table. but I don’t know if that would kill all the growth around it! Hopefully it will dry out a little in the summer and be easier to work with!

I really love the garden, and it will be the main thing I miss when we eventually move to our own place. I’m not sure I can live without a garden again! I might have to just steal the stone or make a moss habitat myself if that happens!

Do you have any places near you where you always take photos? Have you got some good spots in your garden? Let me know in the comments!

(PS, don’t forget the London toy meet up is in 2 weeks!!! Register on Eventbrite!)

Objects of our imagination

I tend to gravitate to photographing LEGO minifigures. They play out scenes, have expressions, and give life to photos. However, over the past few days, I’ve been playing around with my toys, and choosing to photograph some of the items used to give them that life instead.

In particular, I started with the beautiful translucent pink of Fairy Batman’s wings and wand.

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I’ve also photographed Batman helmets and the pink umbrella. Pink was the starting theme for objects chosen. Objects that have been commonplace in my photos so far this year. But now removed from having a story attached. Allowing them to be the focus.

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I ran out of pink objects pretty quickly. But I was still enjoying playing around with non-minifigure photos. So, I started thinking about the items within the LEGO accessory universe that appear time and time again in LEGO toy photos.

I started, unsurprisingly with the camera. This is the most important tool of the LEGOgrapher.

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Then I moved onto maps. Again, another item that we use within our photos for all kinds of scenes. This is one of my personal favourites, as the sun was setting at just the right moment.

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And finally, the red bike, with it’s ‘pop’ of colour contrast against the green of the garden moss. The bike that takes our characters places. The bike that gives them motion.

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I feel like perhaps there should be deeper meaning in these photos. But at the same time, I think that meaning is quite a personal thing. We all use LEGO accessories in our own ways, to tell stories. And if that’s a hiker lost in the jungle with his map, or a Stormtrooper taking a photo in London, these objects help us achieve the story we want. They come with endless opportunities.

All it takes is a little imagination.


I’m not sure if this series of objects will be ongoing, or if maybe I will leave it for a while, but I think I would certainly like to play around with accessories some more and see where it goes. There’s something about the simplicity of these photos that really appeals to me. Something about it that leaves the story there for the viewer to find.

The joy of fairy Batman

Yikes! The last couple of weeks have been tough! Thankfully, I’ve had a range of Batman’s to play with the keep me sane! In particular though, Fairy Batman has really bought a little joy to the world!

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A tough week, with little sleep, means Fairy Batman must have his caffeine fix!

He’s all across Instagram, and toy photographers really seem to have taken to him, myself included! There’s obviously something about him!

Why?

For me, it’s something about the all encompassing pink of him. It’s Batman, sure, but a dainty, awesome, black and pink rocking Batman. It’s a mixture of something usually very masculine, in a more feminine form. It’s a clash of what you would expect from a Batman figure.

Photographing him is both tricky and easy. His mask has a tendency (for me) to wash out. Annoying. But his translucent wings pick up the light. Beautiful. He pops out of the photos he is in, especially when against the green and brown background of the garden. For me, that makes photographing him a fun endeavour. Something bright.

I particularly like this photo I took of him in the rain, with the droplets just resting on those wings. This is one of those intentionally unintended photos. I wanted a faded fairy, in the washed out landscape of a soggy English day, but maybe his wings are a little too in-focus. Or maybe, that’s for the best because of those droplets, because it draws the eye.

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Dancing in the rain!

Likewise with this shot of him I took at sunrise in London. The light just does something to those wings. I do love a good sunrise. (If you want to see some London sunrises (hopefully!) join us March 25/26.)

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Sunrise wishes are granted by Fairy Batman

It turns out that I love fairy Batman so much, I went and bought him a friend. Now they can dance together in the rain!

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Dance of the sugar plum Batmans

Have you fallen in love with one of the Batman’s? Let me know in the comments if you have!