08.27.09

Classic Photography in Lego

British photographer Mike Stimpson playfully reimagines iconic images from Alfred Eisenstadt, W. Eugene Smith, Robert Capa, Eddie Adams, and other 20th-century masters.

Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima, V.J. Day in Times Square, and Lunch Atop a Skyscraper are some of the most iconic images of our time, but now they’re rendered as you’ve never seen them before: in Lego. Mike Stimpson, a 35-year-old British photographer, has spent his career recreating some of the world’s most famous photographs using his favorite childhood toy. His photographs have been published widely in the U.K., and he’s established a large following online.

CLICK IMAGE TO VIEW MIKE STIMPSON’S LEGO PHOTOGRAPHS AND THEIR CLASSIC INSPIRATIONS

It all began several years ago when Stimpson began researching classic images, and then experimented with recreating them in plastic. Now, Stimpson spends an average of two to three hours assembling each photograph in a tiny, dark room of his West Midlands home.

Some of the images he’s chosen to restage are horrifying, others are sad. But rendered in Lego, these iconic pictures—from Robert Capa’s Falling Soldier to Eddie Adams’ execution of a Viet Cong prisoner—become wickedly funny. “My intention with the photographs is mostly to entertain,” Stimpson says. Although Legos are now made with custom-made expressions, Stimpson said he made the decision to stage all of the photos with smiling figures. “Some people find my photos distasteful,” he says, “Some people love it.” Aside from expressions, Stimpson has retained as much of the original image as possible: from the rich black-and-whites of Magnum World War II photography to the eerie lighting in Man on the Moon.

As some of these original photos may now be lost on younger viewers, Stimpson hopes his Lego creations will attract attention back to the original work. “I enjoy the fact that I'm bringing classic photographs and photographers to a new audience through my Lego recreations,” he says. “Hopefully that might get a few more people interested in finding out more about some of the world's great photographers.”

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Isabel Wilkinson is a Daily Beast intern. She has written for New York magazine and Women’s Wear Daily.