How To Photograph A Lego | May Merriment Day 9

 

Daniel-Phelps-Lego-My-Photo

I love when brilliant creativity and photography skill collide. Dan Phelps represents that collision. You might know his website LegoADay. Toy Week wouldn’t be complete without him. Dan graciously shared his advice for capturing Legos. I’m getting my minifigures out and playing this week too.

Here is Dan’s Advice For Giving Lego Photography A Try:

“Become a LEGO. Just like child and pet photography, you’ve got to get down and dirty, and into their world. Remember, minifigs are only 1.5 inches talls, yet full of so much detail they are constantly amazing people of all ages. Put yourself in their shoes – what is their perspective? To capture that, is to do good LEGO photography. More times than not, I’m laying down on my stomach on the ground, in the parking lot, in the grass, in the dirt, to capture a shot.

Like all of photography, be prepared to take dozens of shots to get just one keeper.

Minifigs are portable. Bring them everywhere you go. If I’m going on a hike, or for a walk somewhere, and I know I’m bringing my camera, I toss a few minifigs in my camera bag (usually the Hiker, a Stormtrooper, and one or two other random ones that may fit the theme of wherever I am going). Just looking through my nearly two years of photos it’s easy to see many of them are captured far away from the confines of inside the house.┬áMy LEGO minifigs have been up mountains, to Colonial Williamsburg, the Atlantic Ocean/Myrtle Beach, the Chesapeake, and countless other national parks and hiking trails and outdoor areas. You never know when an opportunity will present itself.

Get outside. Don’t rely on a lightbox, or a similar setup. Putting them in the real world not only gives you many options, but makes you work harder to obtain that one great pic that relates a 1.5″ man, to a Buick.

Remember, we tell our children “it’s a big world out there.” Well, imagine what it looks like from 1.5″ off the ground. But don’t discount the opportunities inside your home. One of the funniest things that can be done is seeing what a minifigure would do when presented with something from our world.

Poses are everything. Anyone can stand a minifig and take a picture. But to really capture the idea that this little plastic figure is a person, you’ve got to make it look like a person. Head turns, arm positions, leg positions, leaning, etc – it’s all things we do naturally as humans. Make your minifigs act like humans.

Get a good macro lens. The majority of my shots are taken with a Tamron 24-75mm F/2.8 lens. It’s not a macro lens, but the closest focal point is pretty close. For the shots where I want to get really close, I have a 70-300mm Macro. If I didn’t have it, I couldn’t pull off half my shots as I envision them in my head because I simply would not be able to get close enough to create the scene.

Manage your depth of field. Like of photography, things in the background can ruin your photo. Be mindful of your full shot, not just what’s in directly in front of you. When you’re 1.5 inches tall, a lot of different things come into play that don’t when you’re standing up straight like normal. Plus, a little figure can easily get lost in a complicated background if it’s not thrown out of focus.”

Leave a little love for Dan in thanks for his generous advice. You’ll be seeing more of his creations all week. But now, get down on the ground and get shooting! Tomorrow we’ll talk about what to do if you don’t have a macro lens!


20 Comments

  1. Cool post! What a great way to bring a smile to my face this Monday. Thanks for the fun!

  2. Janine

    I love LegoADay. Dan’s photos always make me smile. I’m going to get my guys out theis week and experiment.

  3. I’ve been following LegoADay for a month or two, but couldn’t even remember how I found it. It must have been through you, Katrina. Dan, you’ve got me wanting to go out and obsessively buy tons of minifigs!

  4. Ah…just made my day! Never are we the happiest than when being childlike. Wonderful, wonderful post, my friend!

  5. I LOVE the way you really DO make them look real! Love that chair/table leg shot! Thanks so much for all the info!

  6. Carol E.

    Great post! I shipped off all our legos to my cousin’s son … but I know there are a few little guys still lurking around my house. Off to find them!

  7. I have always loved that blog! Thanks for the post. :)

  8. Fun! Great blog post.

  9. i’m a compulsive lego-a-day reader. we even preorder older kids’ video games in order to get the minifigs that come with a preorder! Did you mean to link “Dan’s advice” or is this his advice? Though I’m thinking it’s yours.

  10. Sherry

    I love Dan & his blog! Makes me solo happy! Thanks for the photo advice

  11. Great post Katrina. I’ve been playing with my son’s legos for my toy shots this week. And thank you for the LegoADay link. My son and I love it :)

  12. Kellie

    Seriously cool!

  13. Totally cool! I love this idea!

  14. Help!! I tried doing some shots like these…even of my son’s Legos in fact…put on my macro 50mm lens and for some reason the camera would not focus on the lego guys, but instead the lens was sort of “going back & forth” as if it were searching for focus but could not do it. I have a Canon Rebel…am I doing something wrong? Have you heard of this before?

  15. This can happen if you are shooting in low light or your minifigure doesn’t have a lot of contrast. Try changing to manual focus and playing with that. Focus with a macro lens is tricky.

  16. Your website has now given me even more ideas! Thank you for sharing. I never thought of just taking a couple of minifigs with me on my travels but what a great idea! Unfortunately I’m using a non-professional camera (Fujifilm S8100) which can only do macro up to a point, so it will be interesting to see how it tackles Lego outside, in the wilds!

  17. Kd Blackburn

    I just started a 365 on Jan 1st and am using a lego man. I am going to love looking through your pictures!

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