'LEGO Star Wars' Is a Photographic Wonderland

Vesa Lehtimäki's collection of photographs featuring LEGO toys in inventive situations is an inspiring and innovative collection.

LEGO Star Wars: Small Scenes from a Big Galaxy

Publisher: DK
Author: Vesa Lehtimäki
Publication date: 2015-11

Novel images and projects often make the Internet rounds ad nauseum as many various photography sites turn them into clickbait posts after seeing them elsewhere, no matter the artistic value of the project. The hyperbole in the headlines is enough to drive a person mad.

However, this headline is right on point. There have been a few photo projects that I've seen that are as inspiring as Vesa Lehtimäki's work with action figures -- and specifically in this collected volume of his work with LEGO Star Wars toys called Small Scenes from a Big Galaxy. While I wish the book had some photos of the non-LEGO Star Wars works from the photographer, I can't fault the publisher or Lucasfilms for limiting the property upon which this is focused.

In recent years people, including myself, have complained that store-bought LEGO sets stifle creativity, given they are all cinematic scenes or specific models that need to be built to specification to look like the Millennium Falcon, for example. Lehtimäki's work will dissuade anyone from thinking that again -- he creates exciting new scenarios for the mini-figures and photographs them with inventive props, styles and perspectives, like the fresh snow (or really baking powder) on ice planet Hoth. Even the "portraits" of the figures, which aren't super riveting, invite photographers to study them closely and see what lighting techniques were used to highlight such a small portion of a tiny figure.

Small Scenes from a Big Galaxy stimulates fun receptors as much as it triggers creativity impulses, though I'd believe this is a book for photographers or videographers rather than children or LEGO collectors as the former group could absorb more from the project. The end chapter goes "Behind the Scenes" with insight into Lehtimäki's processes, including some preliminary sketches, overall composition of the workspace and lighting techniques. He notes that despite getting the snow look right, he hasn't been satisfied with the sand, so if any photographers out there come up with a good substitute, he'd probably welcome the tips.

I would have liked to see Lehtimäki go outside the conceptual limitation the figures reside in -- the photos are relegated to concepts or activities that could arise on various Star Wars solar bodies, such as Hoth, Tatooine or Endor.

Lehtimäki, like many other rabid fans, is probably eager for a chance to "play" with the figures from The Force Awakens. LEGO fans will find a new selection of models based around the new film available soon, though this book is already available and worth perusing.


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