pin-up push back

I mean, really, the thing that I love most of all about pin-up photography is the creativity.

The boundless variety involved. You can have a brunette or a blonde or even a redhead!

And the poses! Don’t get me started.

Lowest common denominator sexy. Take model, put in retro clothes and styling, pose in a style that Vargas made famous with a facial expression never seen in nature….

Just add Pose 16-b in Outfit Bikini 4 (red) holding a Prop from the Closet.

Believe it or not, I love pin-up artists. Give me an Elvgren girl any day of the week. But that’s because they’re working in sheer fantasy, regardless of the photo references involved. And I like that fantasy because I can buy into it.

It’s the translation into the real world of three dimensions where I can’t help but wonder if it hurts to sit like that or walk in those shoes for too long that I get lost. And yet, because the modern translation is aping those classic looks, there’s the expectation that, hey, isn’t she…?

I always liked the idea of intellectual pinup. The idea of making it personal to the model or subject instead of forcing them into the mold. I haven’t managed it yet. Maybe this summer?


layers of lego


Titled “Thank You, Sir”

Y’all know my Lego kink project is kind of satirical, yeah?

In all the assorted preparations for getting my work ready for SEAF (prints arrived last week, I’ll frame them after I vend in Tacoma in two weeks) and looking over the schedule (the artist’s “VIP” reception should be a hoot) there’s one event that leapt out at me as being particularly juicy.

The weekend before festival properly begins, there will be a chance for the artists to meet with the show’s docents. In this way, we can talk about our inspirations, share stories and other tidbits that could be useful in making a sale. Oh, yeah, and connecting the viewer with the art too. Whatever.

So I’m very curious to see what they make of my photos before I talk to them about it. Because there’s a lot going on here. And while the work is serious, I’m curious.

On the first level: this is Lego. And that’s silly and fun and unlikely and probably a big part of why my photos were accepted. They simply look different in a field of nude models and semi-abstract sculpture.

On the next level: I’m genuinely looking to make kink and fetish and sexiness look fun and even silly. To the point I’ll pull in dad jokes to serve my purpose:


I submitted this as a lark and it wasn’t accepted. It’ll be showing up in the store, though.

A lot of what’s out there strikes me as grim and dark and, honestly, mean. It’s grim men in leather vests or strict women in severe corsets enacting impossible shibari in tricked out dungeons. And while there’s more to it than that, the image is prevalent enough that I think people find it off-putting.

And I know this because I faced it when I went out vending bondage rope at my last day job. Not all the time, of course, but for every buyer who knew that they wanted X length of Y color, there was someone who was intrigued by the idea bondage but not if it required converting their garage into a sex dungeon and buying fifteen pairs of leather pants. My job was as much about putting a human face on the product in jeans and a t-shirt instead of a reject from the Village People.

This is my attempt to make human art. Sweet. Loving, even if the scene itself is one that involves fifty feet of rope, a riding crop and a violet wand and looks to an outsider like an outtake from one of the Bourne films. Yes it can be lovingly brutal, yes it can be silly.

But deeper still? This is satire.


I went through one of the online festival catalogs and I swear that I saw this picture two or three times. Not exactly the same, of course, (and obviously no Lego was involved) but in the broad strokes there it was: woman, rope and engineering combined to make… this.

Is it still sexy the fifth time you’ve seen it? The tenth? If the only real difference between this image and the next is the knot work but otherwise she’s just bound like a side of beef?

Is it still “erotic” if we take the human model out and replace her with a RealDoll (the link is mostly safe for work, nothing super explicit but use your discretion)? Or a Lego minifig? Or…?


If the only difference between two images is that one features a brunette and the other a blonde…?

So yeah. My submissions are sincere. I’m not storming the barricades and throwing shit around like a bonobo at the zoo. But I am tweaking some noses here and there. I am trying to imbue plastic figures with more humanity than I see in most fetish photography. I’ve had friends compliment me for making the top image in this entry feel human. Gentle.

I’m looking forward to SEAF. I’m looking forward to that meeting. I’m looking forward to seeing if maybe, just maybe, I might change some minds.

At the very least, I’m hoping I can sell all these out.

Stay tuned…

resting fire face

Spinurn 09/07/16

I’m deeply amused whenever anyone complains about how they’re never smiling in their Spinurn pictures. “I always look so serious, y’know?”

Dude, you’re playing with FIRE! I get it.

Spinurn 08/23/17

Don’t get me wrong, as a photographer I love it when someone plays to the camera or looks like they’re having a blast. But as a fellow flow… person… thing… I also understand how hard it can be to relax enough to look at the audience or a photographer or, say, anything but the BALL OF FLAMING MATERIAL YOU’RE SPINNING PERILOUSLY CLOSE TO YOUR FACE!!!!!

Because, trust me, no matter how familiar you are with your prop, no matter the safety training you’ve done, it’s fire and I think our hind brains will never stop reacting to it as such, because to do otherwise would be potentially perilous.

Spinurn 11/08/17

So yeah, I’m happy for the pictures of people having fun and laughing. But if they’re not expressive…

Don’t we all kind of get why?

too many bricks

I love Lego.

I hate Lego.

I love Lego for the opportunities in story telling, the ways I can mix and match and build narrative. I love it for the times when people tell me I managed to show an emotion in the interaction of two minifigures. It’s marvelous and I think it’s safe to say that this is going to be in my wheelhouse for quite some time.

I hate Lego any time I try to build anything on my own. Because dammit there are just too many bricks!

I’m not a builder. I love a kit, I love the instructions and whenever I buy something new, I have a blast putting things together and seeing how I can use the finished product in a photo.

But I’m never really inspired to make the USS Enterprise out of twelve bricks or a scale model of the London Eye or whatever. I’m envious of the people who can do that and I’ll stare in wide wonder at BrickCon but I don’t feel that passion.

When I do feel inspired to design something on my own, that’s when I’m screwed. Not because of technical limitations or not having enough bricks on hand. Trust me, BrickLink is your friend when you’re searching out parts and minifigs. And their design software is a game changer. Instead of thinking that maybe there’s a brick that’ll work like so you can pull its digital copy out and play.

That band idea I wrote about last time? Well I went to play with it in and I came up with this:

The Band

Even as the pedant in me would like to point out that this is missing and that’s incorrect, I’m well pleased with this. It’ll work perfectly for The Outsiders.

So I upload it to BrickLink, get a shopping list and immediately hit a brick wall… built of 2×4 bricks in red and dark bluish grey.

Here’s the thing, folks. Lego bricks look simple and easily sorted. You’ve got bricks (self-explanatory), plates (flat pieces with studs), tiles (flat pieces without studs), slopes, arches and so on and so forth. But for every particular brick that exists as its own holotype, its own platonic ideal, there are countless others that exist with subtle variations that probably only matter to the keepers of the database.

Because those little grille pieces that make up the keys on the keyboard exist in three different forms, depending on whether or not there’s a “lip” on the bottom. One variation was used sparingly, the other is dominant. Pick the wrong one and the system will be looking for a needle in a haystack. Pick the right one and you’re done shopping in thirty seconds.

And this is what always messes me up. Always. This piece? Not available in dark bluish grey but it’s readily available in light bluish grey. This piece? Available with a lip or without a lip. Are you feeling lucky?

It’s a minor frustration, probably something I’d internalize if I actually built larger scenes and MOCs, but as a small time, small-scale dabbler I’ll just keep gritting my teeth and work through the missing bits by hand.

Stay tuned. I think this is going to be a really fun shot.

my brain on Lego

one night only....

Where do I get my ideas? Jesus, I wish I knew.

The obvious ones are kind of obvious… obviously. A knight and a dragon. The Doctor and a Dalek. Batman and Robin. While I’ll take credit for an original staging or unique take on the subject, the idea itself is pretty self explanatory.

When you get in to the realm of this shot, however… yeah I wish I had an easy answer. It’s an idea that started with a joke, evolved with a few more minifigs and now I’m actually working on building up a band. All because someone in the hierarchy of Lego devised that glam Batman that’s lurking in the right hand of this picture.

That first wave of Lego Batman minifigs included the glam figure and it was wacky. Silly. I used it in a couple of pictures and it probably would have languished in the bottom of that box.

The second wave of Lego Batman minifigs included that Black Canary figure, with a microphone stand and a dual printed head that had her screaming (or singing) on one side.

Well that’s a rock band… right?


Well, mostly. Kind of. Decent duo. But not a band.

Have you ever had the experience where an idea just lands in your head, unbidden? Like your subconscious had been chewing on something for a couple days and there it is?

Some of the other figures in this wave were in the Superfriends, but that was too obvious. But Black Canary was in The Outsiders. With Green Arrow. So he’s on drums, Apache Chief is on bass, Black Lightning is on keyboards.

And that “tour poster”? Well that’s the first attempt at doing something artsy with it. I really wanted something more like the cover for “With The Beatles”, but it’s hard to get that kind of detail with plastic cylinders, so it became what it is now and I kind of love it all the more for not being “perfect” but the best that I could do with a bunch of minifigures and two flashlights.

I think there’s more to come with this. I don’t know what, exactly, but it’s been a lot of fun to think about.

by the pound

What’s the last thing you bought by the pound? Vegetables or meat are probably the most likely. Bulk food. Deli meat.

How about larger measures? Five pounds. Ten pounds. Potatoes, likely. A roast. Apples.

According to the shipping manifest, this picture shows roughly ten pounds worth of greeting cards. Over three hundred cards with envelopes.


Believe it or not, that’s not what trips me up, though. Given that I’ve actually gotten a vending date or two coming up, I’m happy for the inventory.

No, what’s really messing with my head is the fact that almost all of these are from my Lego Kink “line” and, unless I’m misreading the email or something equally weird happens, more than half of these are earmarked for a local shop to carry.

And that blows my mind. And that gives me hope.

I’m not about to threaten Hallmark any time soon, but it’s really heartening.


Well, today I got the news from SEAF. Of the five photos I submitted, they accepted four.

My silly little minifigs are going to be hanging in a show of “erotica” and I couldn’t be more chuffed! And shocked, actually. I was expecting that they might want one. Maybe. Four? Holy hell…

And the one they rejected? Honestly, I threw that in as a lark without really expecting anything so I’m doubly thrilled.

It teminded me of an argument I got into on a toy photography forum a while back. It was about where toy photos “fit” in the grand scheme of photography and the author was of the opinion that, nope, we could slot our photos anywhere we believed they fit. We should think outside the limitations of “just” toy photography.

Now, I agree with that to a point, but the examples given weren’t thought through. According to them a picture of a surfing Lego minifig surely belongs in a sports photography group, as does a picture of a Terminator action figure belong in a celebrity photography group since it’s clearly a photo of Arnold Schwarzenegger. And if you had a bunch of minifigs posed around a building, that’s street photography.

Which is where I really got into it because those parallels are sketchy at best and insulting at worst. I mean, have you seen what photographers will do to get the best surfing photos? Jesus! And as nice as it is to have someone praise my dinosaur photos as being almost realistic…

good hit

I really like it, but let’s be real. The only way you’d see this image in National Geographic (or wherever) is if they did a special toy issue in the same way that Hasbro and LucasFilms will hold contests for the best toy photography featuring their action figures.

Sure, street photography is “just” candid shots of people, but there’s more to it. It’s about moments and humanity. Hell, I’ve been in groups that forbade any pictures taken indoors since clearly the mandate was photography on the streets. Strict, but fair.

It all ended in a damp squib of being told that if I didn’t believe my art belonged anywhere but Instagram, that was my problem…

Here’s the thing: I think my toy photography belongs in galleries. Absolutely, one hundred percent, some of my best work should be blown up to some ridiculous sized print and hung in a white walled cube for patrons to walk by in wide eyed wonder (at the prices). I want to see it in stores for sale. I want a book deal.

Between this and my studio work, I want to take over the world.

But some of that is knowing where the work doesn’t belong. I’m a straight white male photographer, my work does not belong in a space devoted to Japanese printmakers. Simple.

After that, though? It’s finding where I can slot my ideas in, maybe even without them knowing they wanted it. Like the places that are selling my Lego cards, both mundane and kink. Like the places I’ve shown my work.

Like SEAF.

The show’s in April. I’m vending in Tacoma in March. I’m sending line sheets to shops up and down the west coast this week, including because why the fuck not.

And I’ll show you exactly where my work belongs.