Andrew Whyte’s LEGOgraphy series has won critical acclaim from across the world. It’s blend of charming subjects, creative framing and forced perspective has produced some truly memorable images and brilliantly evokes a sense of “the little guy.”
Importantly, it’s also a series that was really only made possible by advances in mobile photography. Andrew carries his LEGO figure with him everywhere he goes and it stands to reason that this kind of serendipity-based approach is only possible if the camera used to capture it is equally omnipresent.
We caught up with Andrew to discuss the challenges and joys of capturing the day-to-day activities of a mini-fig photographer using his Xperia Z3 Compact.
So, tell us a bit about yourself Andrew -who are you and how long have you been a photographer for?
I’m Andrew and I live in Portsmouth, the UK’s only island city, on the south-coast of England.
I’ve had a passion for photography since I was very young and over the span of the last 30 years I don’t think I’ve ever been without a camera.
How did you stumble across this style of photography and what was the inspiration behind it?
The concept behind my series with a LEGO mini-figure was pretty simple, to get me shooting more! Stumbling across the camera accessory whilst browsing in a LEGO store gave me the idea to create a character that went round taking pictures, and since then the project has grown.
Are there any particularly specific photography techniques that are necessary for your style of photography?
It’s not so much a photography technique as a personality trait: a calm temperament is the first thing that strikes me. Imagine trying to balance a lightweight, two-inch figure in anything less than perfect conditions! That aside, the key to this style of photography is to focus on the perspective, get up close to the figure – sometimes as near as three or four inches – and make it look close to life-size compared to the more distant background.
What are some of the challenges when shooting such small figures?
I no longer count strange looks from passers-by as a challenge, but you definitely need to develop a certain confidence to set up a shot near others. Mostly the challenges relate to the weather, wind being the biggest frustration although a square of double-sided sticky tape can keep a tiny foot secured to the ground in desperate times.
How have you found using the Xperia Z3 Compact?
I’ve been hugely impressed with the image quality, especially in lower light conditions. Battery life has been fantastic too; the Xperia Z3 Compact has given me more confidence as it lasts through pretty much everything. Away from using it as a device in itself, I’ve also become very used to the fact my handheld is now waterproof, I was shooting a waterfall recently and I had no worries using the Z3 Compact right in the spray of the fall.
How does the camera technology compare with what you were using a year ago?
The Xperia Z3 Compact really shows Sony’s experience in consumer electronics. It’s not just that the camera is incredibly capable; the areas of convergence also work brilliantly across devices, so my phone and camera now talk faultlessly. I use the Xperia Z3 Compact as an everyday camera as the Superior auto function delivers consistently good results with minimal effort.
What’s next for camera phone technology? Will the cameras on mobile phones ever equal DSLRs?
I really think mobile imaging has a promising future as it continues to provide a route into photography that spans cultures and generations. Big, unwieldy cameras couldn’t hope to achieve that, and nor can they yet deliver the emotional gratification that is key to the success of so many images. Take a picture with a smartphone and within minutes it can be edited and shared with friends or family around the world.
Is there anything you’ve always wanted to shoot? What projects are you currently working on?
If I could combine the LEGO series with my passion for the night sky I’d be a happy man but the low light performance of the Xperia Z3 Compact suggests this may not be too far away…