Throughout 2023 I took part in the Stuck In Plastic Community Challenge. Stuck In Plastic is “creative collective of toy photographers” that is mainly focused on Lego but some photographers concentrate on PlayMobil, Smurfs and other toys. Each week during 2023 a challenge was set by the incredible group leaders with the aim being to create a set of playing cards. To create some cohesion the playing cards were grouped into their own themes so for examples all Aces featured shapes whilst the threes represented seasons of the year. Remarkably I managed to stick with the challenge and complete all 52 images. These can be seen below.
Creating The Layouts
Putting all the images together and then creating them into playing cards was quite interesting as it was great to see a whole year’s work come together. The above layouts were done using Photoshop and a template that I put together myself. I did look around for an easier way to do this including using the upload options at sites that actually allow you to create a deck of cards and pay for them to print it. However the layouts offered weren’t quite what I wanted and to be honest these images will never be used to create a deck anyway. It’d be nice but I don’t play cards. However I have printed collages of the above to go on the wall.
A Review Of The Images
Looking over the 52 images I’m pretty pleased with the results. There are some images that I think are very good and show a positive development on how I photograph Lego and create images. The deer (three of clubs) representing autumn worked very well and I also like the safari image within the same suit (9 of clubs). Within Diamonds the standout images are the 10, Jack, Queen and King for various reasons. The 10 was created with the help of Photoshop AI whilst the Jack was my best effort for the theme of Smurfs. The Queen of Diamonds represents fear and I think is a good image whilst the King, representing air, is more about technique. That is a real bubble although the minifigure is behind it, but you’d never know. The Hearts are a strong set of images with the two and eight being my favourites. The spades also have some strong shots especially with the King and Queen. The King is a Terminator tribute (representing fire) and took a lot of playing on Photoshop. The Queen is sadness/loneliness and I think the use of the figure looking out of a window with raindrops on helps convey that emotion.
What Could Have Been Better?
Photographically I’m pretty happy with the shots. Of course there are always way to make them better but for this challenge they’re enough. So what could I have done better or differently? My initial idea with respect to the challenge was to incorporate the relevant playing card into the image. So you’ll see a playing card in some images (Jack of Spades, Queen of Hearts, Five of Clubs, Nine of Clubs). In most cases they blend in OK but in others they had to be shoehorned in. It quickly became clear I’d made a rod for my own back. Therefore around week nine the idea was dropped. Well I say dropped I actually forgot to include it in the two of hearts week and made the decision to not worry after that. Some participants in the challenge got themselves organised and assigned figures to each theme/challenge. Mine is adhoc because I just chose what to do each week. Maybe a little more thought at the start of the process would have helped created a cohesive set. On the flipside that may have also felt like a constraint so we’ll never know.
The 2024 Challenge
SiP have launched a new challenge for 2024 and it follows a similar approach to 2023. Weekly themes to create a final body of work at the end of the year. It’s not creating a playing card set though. Instead it comprises of a city/story which has been a struggle to comprehend. Roughly the idea is to come up with a locale where your images tell a story and are linked in some way. This could be a full on indepth story or simply shots from the same photographer. I’m still not sure on it but I have an idea and will wing it until either the pieces start to come together or not. I’ll try and blog a bit more about it if I remember. In the mean time I’m doing a bit more with non-challenge shots to see if I can become a little more prolific in sharing, blogging and posting.