Minifigure Photography Tips: Part 1

So I mentioned last Friday that BrickTW had sent me some product for review a couple of weeks ago. I thought "Great! I'll put together some photos and write a rockin' review." What I found out is that its not as easy as some folks on the interwebs make it look.

You can see my progress so far. I built a little vignette to show off some of the goods, got out my trusty point-and-click camera, and took a few pictures. It became very clear that I had no idea what I was doing! Although I thought ahead enough to put a slip of paper behind the figure, the lighting was casting a rather severe shadow off to the left and the picture was rather flat and lifeless.

So I started to scour the 'net looking for any tips or tutorials specific to taking pictures of LEGO or small objects in general. The first one I found was off of the LEGO Design School on LEGO.com. The tutorial really had three tips: 1) place a sheet of paper behind the figure to create a backdrop, 2) experiment with light for the best effects, and 3) use your camera's 'macro' setting. Although these are three very important tips, as we will see, they were fairly general in explaining how to do this. Given that the target is likely the playground set, then it's not surprising.

I was then able to come across some reprints of a series from BrickJournal called Minifig Customization 101. These were actually published a few years back in BrickJournal magazine, and can be found on the Fine Clonier website under 'reference'. I've included a link here to the article on macro digital photography.

This article really dives deep into the topic in just a few short pages. In fact, it shows how you can improve your photos tremendously with a digital camera, some construction paper, a work lamp, and a milk jug. Yes, a milk jug. I would highly suggest this article as recommended reading.

Armed to the teeth with new knowledge, I set out to improve my pics. In the next segment, I'll talk about how I built my own mini photo studio for under $30.


  1. Great information. Could you make any recommendations as far as cameras. I would love to start taking photos with the advice you have provided but only have access to the camera on my Motorola Droid phone. Not sure if it would be even worth my time. Thanks for any advice.

  2. I'm not the best person to ask about cameras, but I can say that there is nothing fancy about mine. It's an old Nikon CoolPix 775.

    Unless you really want to sink some money into a camera, I would suggest a solid but basic digital camera with a digital macro function.