LEGO Ralph McQuarrie Concept Boba Fett Minifigure Photography by Lee Boardman
If we had to sum up our reaction upon discovering Lee Boardman’s LEGO photography, “gobsmacked” would come to mind. While there is certainly no shortage of incredible images of LEGO minifigures on the interwebs these days, seeing them in jaw-dropping cinematic settings was a decidedly profound experience. It was immediately obvious that we were going to be fans for life.
Lee has an incredible knack for portraying LEGO in a real-life scale. The viewer is completely immersed in an alternate plastic reality, to the point where it becomes easy to forget just how small they can be. You finally know what it’s like to walk underneath a LEGO TIE Fighter or to stand face to face with a small plastic Boba Fett on Cloud City, and these Flametrooper minifigures in a forest look real enough to make Smokey the Bear do a double take. Other personal favorites include Kylo Ren’s movie-accurate shuttle, a pair of AT-DP’s, and Imperial Probe Droids in the mist. Lee’s command of scale was on full display in this stunning portrait of Rey with a crashed UCS Super Star Destroyer in the background, which completely knocked our socks off.
Lucky for us, Lee one day stumbled upon acquiring a LEGO Ralph McQuarrie Concept Boba Fett minifigure which means our favourite white-armored bounty hunter also landed on the receiving end of his distinctive artistry. In addition to granting us an interview, Lee was also gracious enough to craft several exclusive images just for us which we are extremely proud to debut on his behalf. Thank you Lee!
What was your earliest Star Wars memory?
As a young boy, I remember watching the first three films (episodes IV, V, and VI) with my father. I was born at a similar time to when the first Star Wars movie was made, so I caught the hype probably in the 1980’s. I was instantly taken by the mind-boggling special effects and the quirky characters, as so many other people were. As a young boy, it was easy for your imagination to run wild and be able to place yourself amongst the movie in your mind’s eye.
Who/What inspired you to get into LEGO photography? You clearly seem to know what you’re doing; do you have prior photography experience to reference from?
I have always been interested in graphic design and was familiar with Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator at a basic level. I had done logo design and basic posters for people in my free time. Whenever I was at the toy shop with the kids, I would eye off the LEGO Star Wars products and think it would be great to relive my childhood and purchase a set for old times’ sake. But I was embarrassed because I didn’t know anyone that bought LEGO as an adult. Eventually I gave in and took a set home. Having built that, and keen to buy more, I was researching on the net what set to buy next when I came across Avanaut and his amazing LEGO toy pics. Say no more. Fantastic. Seeing his pictures struck a chord with me and I realized I could entertain my newfound love for LEGO with my graphic design and photography interests. That’s when I came across the marvelous toy community on Instagram.
Instagram is indeed full of high quality toy photography, yet you’ve managed to make yours stand out. How would you describe your style?
My style is a mix of photography and Photoshop. I guess it’s a processed shot rather than just photography alone. I consciously try and create picturess that make LEGO a little bit more dramatic and real. Kind of getting the figures not to look as much like LEGO as they do a shot from a movie or something. Really getting down to their level. I also consciously do not include anything in my pictures that would fight against the context of the image or character. What I mean by that is that I try and make sure that everything is at the right heights, trees are the right size, sand doesn’t look too big for the character, etc. Really just making the scene for the subject, as opposed to just placing a figurine down and taking the shot. I don’t shy away from the fact that I use Photoshop so heavily. I completely love and respect artists doing a lot of stuff by hitting the streets and getting down and dirty, or setting up beautiful dioramas and creating scenes. I love all of it. I just have gravitated towards using Photoshop as my main tool. And I have to admit that Photoshop is an art form in itself, and there is still a whole lot of knowledge and skill that goes into even a good ‘Photoshop’ picture. Lately I have been delving more into the basic art of photography and trying to learn more about the art of photography itself, but that really is to just to broaden my horizons.
Who is your favourite Star Wars LEGO character to shoot?
Very good question. The favourite characters to shoot would be stormtroopers, closely followed by Boba Fett. Both characters having a helmet rather than a face makes it easier to translate drama through the camera lens, and they are just so iconic. I don’t think anyone could get sick of looking at a stormtrooper all day. Just something about them.
You are quite possibly the first person in the world to feature a LEGO UCS Super Star Destroyer in your toy photography. What was the best part
about shooting it?
At the time I did those pictures, I didn’t think about the fact that I hadn’t seen any shots of those models on Instagram. Just having a LEGO UCS set is an experience in itself. I want to stress that the Super Star Destroyer is not mine. It was my cousin’s. But there is just something about a UCS model that is instantly just so cool. It’s a rare and expensive model now, so that makes it all the more exciting.
And what was most challenging part?
The sheer size of the toy was a challenge from a photography point of view. The Super Star Destroyer is over four feet long so it goes against everything that LEGO is normally about, which is macro. I found it hard to come up with a scene based on the fact that it had to be shot from such a distance.
Last but not least, what would be the most important piece of advice you would give to someone who is new to toy photography?
The best advice I could give someone starting out is to “just start”. Where I had learned the most was to just start taking pictures. The more you take the more you learn. When I look back at some of the accounts I follow, I can see the growth and how far they have all come through experience. And that includes me.
The second thing would be to get in and comment, and be friends on social media platforms to pick your mentors’ brains about how they do their shots, etc. Don’t be shy about it, they are all there for the same interests and who doesn’t like to share knowledge? That’s what social media is based on, and sharing is what artists do through our images everyday.
About the Artist
Lee Boardman lives in Newcastle, Australia, and is a self-admitted latecomer to the AFOL game having only purchased his first LEGO set in December of 2015. His incredible LEGO photography portfolio can be found on his Instagram account @lee.boardman.