Anyone who follows my photography page on Facebook knows by now that I participated in Bricks Cascade this past weekend, a big LEGO convention here in Portland. It was my first public exhibition, so I was nervous to submit some photos for display, but I’m happy to say that it was a tremendous success!
I still wasn’t planning on going until the Monday before the event. I was on Facebook that night when I saw an announcement that they were, for the first time ever, allowing people to submit photography for the public exhibition that takes place on Saturday and Sunday. Immediately I knew that this was something I had to try!
The following days were a bit of a whirlwind as I tried to get ready. I had to get all of my work done during the week so that I could take the weekend off; I needed to select the photos I wanted to display, order prints, and have them express delivered so that I’d have them in time to mount and display for setup on Friday morning; and I needed to submit those photos online beforehand to make sure that there would be table space for me.
Luckily for me, I had a fellow photographer, Jenelle Nowak, at my side! Jenelle volunteers at Bricks Cascade as an event coordinator, and was in charge of the photography theme this year. She was extremely helpful in helping me get everything submitted and set up in time, and I’m happy to say that I made a LEGO photography friend through the entire process.
The convention itself was a lot different than I expected. There were over 10,000 people that attended the public exhibition over the weekend, filling the Oregon Convention Center to the brim! I’ve never seen so many LEGO lovers in one place! I know there are a lot of us out there, but I spend so much time in my own little LEGO photography bubble (interacting with a few fellow photographers from time to time on social networks) that I forget exactly how popular those little plastic bricks and minifigures are.
I came out of the event with a few new friends, some great connections, more followers on Instagram and Flickr, and the top-prize for Best LEGO Photo at the convention! The award went to “Bigfoot Sighting,” which itself was gratifying because it’s my personal favorite of the photos I’ve taken over the years. I was even awarded a great, brick-built trophy by Jenelle, which is now sitting with the print on top of a shelf here at home.
The greatest thing about the convention, however, was not winning the contest or receiving some new fans. It was seeing people react to my photos in person. My wife and I attended the exhibition on Saturday; we gazed at the incredible builds others had on display, she kept me from spending too much money at the vendor booths, and she even helped me cleverly spy on those who visited the photography table!
The large crowds made the prospect of showing my prints pretty daunting, but a little bit of loitering by the photo table (and eavesdropping on the families and excited children who looked at my pictures – thanks to Jordan’s incredible hearing) set my mind at ease. I can’t even tell you how great it was to see kids laugh at “Domesticated,” my cat/Stormtrooper photo, or their parents smile widely at “Bigfoot Sighting.” Over the years it’s been fun to see my Facebook friends or Instagram followers “Like” and comment on my pictures, but seeing the prints in person, on display just feet away from the men, women, and children at the convention, made this whole photography thing feel a lot more real.
This may have been my first public display, but it definitely won’t be my last! In fact, I’m already wondering what I should submit next year…
To all of those who attended Bricks Cascade, all who voted for my photo, my ever-supportive wife (who’s become more and more okay with me covering every flat surface of our apartment with LEGO) and all of my friends and family who cheered me on from the comfort of their homes around the world: Thank you. You’ve made this one of the greatest creative experiences of my life.