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Capturing Emotion in LEGO Toy Photography | Featuring Chris McVeigh

By Lauchlan Toal on September 7th 2015

Prior to getting into photography, LEGO was my biggest hobby. I actually bought my first DSLR in order to take better photos of my creations for online contests. Online communities of LEGO fans on sites like Flickr are always working towards showcasing their unique creations with better photography. Unlike most art forms, LEGO sculptures are often dismantled to build something new, and photos are the only trace left. As such, some builders spend even more time documenting their model than they spend building it.

Chris McVeigh is one of these people, blending LEGO and photography to create a truly masterful image. Technically, he is both an excellent builder and photographer. However, that base of technical skill is just the beginning. What really sets Chris apart from the crowd are the emotions his work evokes.

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Now this is a blast from the past – the bookshelf, that is.

LEGO, by its very nature, evokes feelings already; The nostalgia we feel when looking at this classic, ubiquitous block. The memories brought back as we fall back into the rose-tinted well of childhood. The multi-sensory experience of crying out in pain as you step on a brick in the dark…(Okay, maybe Chris isn’t going for that, but I digress).

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Zoinks! Who knew LEGO Scooby-Doo could look so good?

With the use of LEGO already having brought you into the folds of reminiscing, the sculpture itself is free to work its magic. A look through Chris’s Photostream is a look back in time. From Star Wars to Superheroes, your first computer to your favourite holiday, you can’t help but be caught up in fond memories.

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Here’s one for us photographers – remember your first camera?

Notice that I haven’t talked much about the photography aspect of his work. Like PhotoShop usage, good photography isn’t meant to be noticed. The photo is about the subject, not the techniques used to capture it, and Chris’s photos are beautifully framed so that your focus goes straight to the subject.

Indeed, it can be easy to forget that you are looking at a photo, or a LEGO creation sometimes. Many of his images are impressively immersive, as he doesn’t photograph them as if they’re LEGO. Instead, he treats the figures as models in a portrait session – posing them in ways that we’re all familiar with from typical photography.

[REWIND: CREATE LEGO PORTRAITS FROM ANY PHOTO WITH THIS BEGINNER’S TUTORIAL]

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Even LEGO Michael Jackson’s missing his nose!

He also applies his experience as a graphic designer to his creations, often using unusual colour palettes that are surprisingly harmonious and engaging. Combined with an eye for product photography, his photos deliver a seamless combination of LEGO, photography, and emotions.

Chris has been recognized globally for his skill, having been featured on Gizmodo, Esquire, and even the Star Wars website. You can view some of his work on his website (as well as instructions for some of his creations) or on his Flickr PhotoStream.

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Looks like someone tried downloading Windows 10.

Looking at his photos, photographers can think about the difference between taking a photo, and making a photo. LEGO helps to make this difference abundantly clear, as you physically have to create the set that you’re photographing. However, in any field, it helps to take the time to prepare an image. Whether it means trying a few angles, moving around some props, or bringing in a couple strobes, being mindful about what you’re trying to create and making your vision a reality will set you apart from the people simply “taking” photos. Remember, it’s all about the subject. Remove the distractions, and let your audience hone in on the feelings you create in your work.

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CREDITS: Photographs by Chris McVeigh are copyrighted and have been used with permission for SLR Lounge. Do not copy, modify or re-post this article or images without express permission from SLR Lounge and the artist.

Lauchlan Toal is a food photographer in Halifax, Nova Scotia. When not playing with his dinner, he can be found chasing bugs, shooting sports, or otherwise having fun with photography. You can follow his work online, or hunt him down on the blogs and forums that he frequents.

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  1. Daniel Lee

    His work is so great! It always amazes me how creative some people can be with their still life work, I would love to have even half as much creativity!

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