Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for joining us as we continue our newest series: Interview with an AFOL. In the following weeks, every Tuesday and Friday, we will be having interviews with AFOLs of different kinds. There will be photographers, collectors, builders, animators, and even bloggers! We’ll try to learn a little more about them and see how they came to love the plastic brick (or people) we all love. Some of these AFOLs are well known throughout the community, while others, not so much. No matter who they are, they are all incredible people who have at least one thing in common: Love for LEGO.
Today we are talking with Simon, aka legotrooper_89 on Instagram!
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
My name is Simon, I’m 30 years old, I live in Kent in the UK. I love film, gaming and LEGO.
How did your journey with LEGO begin?
Growing up, I’ve always had LEGO. My parents bought me sets for birthdays and Christmases. I didn’t really get seriously into LEGO until about 10 years ago when I became more of an avid collector.
What about your journey with photography?
I was a bit late joining the photography game. Growing up, I didn’t have much interest in it. It all started with finding toy LEGO photographers on Instagram. I started off using an iPhone 6, with no knowledge of what I was really doing. But with the help of a few followers at the time (who have become good friends!), I’ve moved on to using a DSLR camera and have developed my technique and style to what you see in my photos today.
What do the people around you (friends/family) think about your obsession?
Considering what I do is toy photography, my friends and family are quite supportive. What started as a little hobby has developed into an obsession.
I suppose that your favourite theme is Star Wars, but do you have any other LEGO theme you like?
I’ll always be Star Wars through and through, but I also love a few other franchises – Marvel and DC for example. There are a few other sets and themes I would like to work with, and plan to try out in the future!
Who has been an inspiration to you?
Rob @rob787 has been a big inspiration and massive support since I first started my Instagram account. He introduced me to the style of posing that I use in my photos – I dismantle the figures and reposition them in more natural ways.
Can you tell us which set is your favourite?
My favourite set is probably the Slave One Ship (Ultimate Collector’s Series 75060). It was my first big set, and the whole build process from start to finish was brilliant! It also gave me my favourite LEGO minifigure – Boba Fett.
Speaking about your photography, what kind of gear do you use?
I use a Nikon D3400 camera, and a Nikon 18-55mm lens. I always use a tripod – K and F concept tripod. Editing is all done via iOS apps.
Would you say you’re more of an indoor or outdoor kinda person when it comes to photography?
100% indoor – I find it so much easier to control the lighting and backgrounds. I have tried outdoor photography a couple of times, but prefer indoor as it is a better fit for my style.
What kind of preparations do you make before taking a picture?
First I choose a theme e.g. Star Wars or Marvel, I then decide which minifigures I’m going to use, then plan the shot I want to aim for, and then pose the figure to reflect the scene I’m looking for. This can take some time, as a lot of minifigures like to fall apart before I’ve even set up the camera!
How much do you edit afterwards? Do you have a favourite software or app?
I do all my editing on iOS apps. Editing a photo can take anywhere between 30 minutes to 2 hours. The three apps I always use are Photoshop Express, Photoshop Mix and Photoshop Fix. PSX is general photo editing, Photoshop Mix allows me to add effects to my photos and Photoshop Fix means I can erase any unwanted elements to the photo. Occasionally, I also use Lightroom if I want to edit the lighting of the photo.
What is your biggest challenge when photographing?
Firstly keeping the figures in the exact pose that I’ve decided on can, at times, be a bit of a challenge. I use Blu Tack to hold the minifigures in position, on more than one occasion, pieces have fallen mid shoot! This can be incredibly frustrating, but ultimately worth it for the end result. Lighting can also be tricky! During some shots I struggle to create the desired lighting. I should definitely invest in some better equipment, such as a Lumecube.
What aspects of your photography skills you would like to improve on?
I would like to improve my editing by (eventually) transitioning from iOS apps to PC software, as the apps can only get you so far. I would also like to improve on and develop my outdoor photography skills. I live very close to a brilliant beach and would love to shoot some photos there!
Any advice or tips you’d like to share? A secret of yours, perhaps? Or maybe tutorials from the Internet you often use?
Sometimes it doesn’t take an elaborate set up or all the gear to create a stunning photo. Sometimes the most simple setups can be the most impressive. I do get quite a few messages on how I position my minifigures and edit my photos. It is possible that at somewhere down the line I might do live tutorials on Instagram if that’s something people are interested in. A good iOS app for adding effects to your photos is LensFX – I would highly recommend it!
And that’s it, folks! Thank you, Simon, for having this interview with us and letting us take a sneak peek into your world. As for everyone else, don’t forget to check out Simon’s Instagram page.
Have a bricktastic day!
All images belong to legotrooper_89