UPDATE: Be sure to read our 2016 edition of how to get blogged as well.
One of the most frequently asked questions we get here at The Brothers Brick is how to get your LEGO creation featured on our website. We’ve answered this tangentially with Linus’s LEGO is communication series and Tim’s blogging standards, but I thought it was time we helped all of you out there understand a bit better what makes a LEGO creation “blogworthy” to us.
Now, in three easy steps, here’s how to get featured on The Brothers Brick…
Step 1: Build something awesome
Awesome is a fairly subjective word, but it’s a good word to encompass all the different types of cool LEGO creations we like to highlight. Several factors can influence how awesome a LEGO creation is:
- Unique: Have we seen something like this before? Have you built something exactly like this before? If so, is it better than the last version? Does the creation use a new or interesting building technique? Example: Arvo’s Chestburster
- Epic: The biggest, baddest thing ever built from LEGO? Example: Jumpei Mitsui’s LEGO battleship Yamato
- Relevant: Is the LEGO creation timely? Is it tuned into what’s happening in pop culture? Example: Angus MacLane’s LEGO Wall-E
- Funny: Does it make us laugh? Is it completely unexpected for something made from a children’s toy? Examples: Through the wormhole with Rocko and Justin Pratt’s Fruitf*#&er
- Beautiful: Does the LEGO creation achieve a level of symmetry, harmony, or style that just might be Art? Example: I want my brain transplanted into one of rongYIREN’s robots
- Enlightening: Does the creation communicate something interesting? Does it have something to say about the human (or minifig) condition? Example: Michael Jasper refuses to give in to peer pressure
A few LEGO creations combine several of these factors to achieve a truly unique mashup, like these awesome examples:
- Pepa Quin’s LEGO iPod Racer, powered by Mac Mini: LEGO + Apple + Star Wars = Awesome!
- Bandwagon mayhem: Fabuland + ApocaLEGO + Cave Racer + Black Fantasy + Frogspace = Awesome!
- Steampunk TIE fighter: LEGO + Star Wars + Steampunk = Awesome!
Step 2: Take good pictures of your LEGO creation.
LEGO photography is hard. You can’t just use your mom’s low-resolution camera phone to take pictures of your MOC on your computer desk. Putting some effort into your LEGO photography will highlight your creations to their best advantage, and help get them noticed.
- The right things in focus: If you’re taking a picture of a minifig, the minifig should be in focus. If you’re taking a picture of a diorama, the foreground (or whole scene) should be in focus. For close-up shots, make sure you turn on your camera’s macro setting.
- Good lighting: A well-lit LEGO creation shows off all its great colors and intricate details.
Natural daylight is perfect, though diffused daylight is even better. A full-spectrum fluorescent bulb can stand in for daylight, but they can be expensive and hard to find. If you’re like me and you live somewhere that gets 55 days of sunshine in a year, a combination of “warm” incandescent and “cool” fluorescent lighting can work.
Very low or focused lighting can also complement a LEGO creation, giving it a cinematic feel, as Alex Eylar demonstrated in One stormy night.
- Neutral or appropriate background: Take a look at the LEGO creations we feature. One thing you probably won’t notice is their background. Neutral backgrounds don’t distract from the LEGO creation. Many builders use a large piece of card stock paper, while others achieve some interesting effects with bedsheets or blankets.
- Complementary or immersive camera angle: Take at least one vehicle photo from a three-quarters angle that showcases the top, front, and one side. For LEGO creations that depict a scene, like dioramas and vignettes, take photos from a “minifig’s-eye-view.” Bonus points for having minifigs looking into the camera.
If you don’t have a good camera or you live somewhere that doesn’t have good natural light, you can still make your LEGO photos presentable by post-processing the images through software like Adobe Photoshop, GIMP (free), and even the photo management suite that came with your computer. More specifically, you can improve the colors and exposure, enhance the contrast, and sharpen the focus a little bit.
Once you’re familiar with these programs, you can even use them to combine elements from multiple photographs to create a single cohesive whole — a process called compositing. Mark Kelso used this technique for many of the images in his Apocalpysis: A Journey Inward (right).
There are a number of excellent resources in the LEGO fan community about improving your presentation skills:
- LEGO is communication: Presentation here on The Brothers Brick
- Good photography tips and tricks on Classic-Space.com
- The Publishing forum on Classic-Castle.com
- Brenden Wilson’s forthcoming LEGOGRAPHIA series on Masoko Tanga
Step 3: Help us find your LEGO creation.
If you want others to see your LEGO creations (and get them highlighted here), there’s no point in hiding them away somewhere nobody will find them. Gone are the days of firing up a free Geocities home page, hand-coding a bunch of HTML pages, and waiting for people to find you when they search Alta Vista in their Netscape browsers. Seriously, personal websites are a thing of the past.
Instead, we recommend that you upload your LEGO creations to one of several specific photo-sharing sites active today:
- MOCpages: A dedicated (LEGO-only) photo sharing site maintained by LEGO Certified Professional Sean Kenney. Identify and befriend your favorite builders, get comments on your creations, and receive e-mail alerts when one of your favorite builders posts a new LEGO creation. The best LEGO photo sharing site on the Web today.
- Flickr: A general (non-LEGO) photo-sharing community site owned and operated by Yahoo! With groups, tagging, contact management, and syndication (RSS and Atom feeds for just about everything), Flickr enables LEGO fans to stay connected and have a fairly LEGO-specific experience on an otherwise non-LEGO site. A free account is limited to 200 photos, while a Pro account costs 25 USD a year.
- Brickshelf: The original LEGO image hosting site. The site lacks many features of the modern Web (such as feeds and support for apostrophes), and experienced a major outage in 2007 that caused a mass exodus to other image-hosting and photo-sharing sites. Lack of updates and intermittent minor outages since then make the future of this site unclear. Still, many builders choose to post their LEGO photos only on Brickshelf and many LEGO fans continue to check Brickshelf for new and updated creations.
Yes, we know that there are a whole bunch of other LEGO and non-LEGO photo sites on the Web. Given how much time we already spend finding the best LEGO creations to feature for our readers, we just don’t have the time to pay attention to sites like Photobucket, MOCshow, and YouBrick. If you run one of these sites, it’s truly nothing personal.
Once you’ve uploaded your photos, you can do a few more things to help us find them more easily:
- Tag the photo “LEGO” (Flickr): Tagging your photo adds keywords that help us find it. The most important tag for a LEGO creation is, naturally, “LEGO”. You can also add other relevant keywords, including foitsop for your main “announcement” photo.
- Add one or more Brothers Brick contributors as contacts (MOCpages & Flickr): Many of us rely on notifications and feeds from our contacts to know when they’ve uploaded something new. By adding us as a contact, we’ll take a look at your LEGO creations and might add you back.
- Add the photo to the LEGO pool (Flickr):
The LEGO group pool on Flickr is one of the primary places where I personally look for new LEGO creations from previously undiscovered builders.
- Use meaningful folder and file names (Brickshelf) or photo titles (Flickr): A series of DSC_0119.jpg photos in your Brickshelf folder or Flickr photostream doesn’t tell us anything about the creation, and it’s hard to tell which is your main “announcement” photo — the one we should write about.
- When all else fails, send us a link: If you’ve built something that you really think is good enough to be highlighted on The Brothers Brick, you’ve done everything we’ve suggested here, and we still seem to have missed it, you just might be right. You can use the Contact Us page to send us a link to your LEGO creation. We get a lot of suggestions, so we can’t always reply individually, but we’ll try.
Okay, so not quite as easy as 1-2-3. ;-) Still:
- Build something cool.
- Take a few decent pictures.
- Put them somewhere we’ll find them.
…and you’ll be in pretty good shape to get yourself featured on The Brothers Brick.
Questions? Ask away in the comments.