It’s about 35 days till Star Wars: The Force Awakens and my excitement levels for all things Star Wars is at an all-time high. Which is why I was delighted when I discovered DK’s new Star Wars: Small Scenes From A Big Galaxy on my doorstep and am very honoured to be able to bring you this review.
Star Wars: Small Scenes From A Big Galaxy is a stunning hardcover collection of LEGO Star Wars photography by Finnish toy photographer Vesa Lehtimäki, better known online as Avanaut.
Vesa’s Star Wars photography has captured the imagination of LEGO, Star Wars and toy photography fans thanks to his incredible talent bringing these tiny minifigures to life using some extremely cool realistic environmental tricks and effects.
Thanks once again to DK Australia for sending me a review copy!
You can purchase Star Wars: Small Scenes From A Big Galaxy from Penguin Australia’s online store for $39.99 or find it at your local bookstore.
Small Scenes From A Big Galaxy’s gorgeous cover sets the tone for the entire book. This is one of those cases where you are absolutely encouraged to judge the book by the cover – and you will probably end up with a very fitting verdict – this is an incredible book, not just for Star Wars fans but for anyone that enjoys minifigure and toy photography.
Reviewing this book is a little challenging because no matter how I write, I just feel that I cannot quite convey the essence of the book and how much I liked it. It’s purely one of those cases where a picture paints a thousand words and this book is stuffed with so many of those pretty pictures.
Previous DK LEGO books have mostly been about minifigures, LEGO themes or Great LEGO sets – fairly informational and they lean closer towards the visual encyclopedia end of the spectrum. Small Scenes From A Big Galaxy is more avant-garde. It’s more coffee table book than collector’s companion or checklist – and it’s why I love the book so much.
“Soon, short scenarios became an integral part of my photographs. I felt as if I was writing, staging, directing and shooting little one-frame movie scenes in the Star Wars universe that were completely my own. I loved that.” – Vesa Lehtimäki
If you’re familiar with Avanaut’s body of work (seriously, go check out his Flickr or follow him on Instagram), you’ll know that he made his name by using “snow”, shadows and ingenious environments to capture the more pedestrian side of the inhabitants of the Star Wars universe.
The book is separated into several main sections familiar with fans of the Original Trilogy – Tatooine, Hoth and Endor – three distinct planets with their very own look and feel that Vesa has cunningly created using sand, water and plenty of flour.
Drawing on his Finnish heritage, Vesa’s best work is undoubtedly contained within the Hoth section where you’re given a candid and entertaining look into the life of Snowtroopers as they go about their business on the icy planet.
The photography is outstanding and it really makes a pretty strong argument for the use of LEGO as an art-form while retaining the playfulness and creativity that is so essential to the toy.
You really do get a sense of Vesa’s storytelling, playful sense of humour and keen eye for detail in his photographs.
The book is a refreshing and bold move by DK to put together a book that celebrates photography, instead of their usual character and visual encyclopedias. I hope this bold move pays off well as it makes for a lovely coffee table book.
Since I received the book, I’ve found myself keeping the book near to me and it occupies a spot on my coffee table. I find myself flipping through the book every now and then when I’m watching TV or on my phone. There’s just something extremely uplifting about appreciating the crisp high resolution photographs that are in the book.
Sure, you can always view Avanaut’s photos online, but there’s something romantic and visually stimulating about enjoying them in a physical form.
I dabble in toy photography every now and then (follow me on Instagram to see my occasional minifig photography) so it was also great that the book ends with a Behind The Scenes section which goes into great detail about how Vesa sets up and creates many of his iconic photographs. There’s also a short interview to get into Vesa’s mind, exploring his inspirations and techniques in his photography.
I really enjoyed the techniques employed and was quite surprised that you don’t really need a full-fledged photography studio to create some of these shots – just some good old fashioned ingenuity and creativity.
For example, I didn’t know that he shoots many of his snowy pictures inside an aquarium where his models and minifigs are actually submerged in water. I thought that was pretty darn clever.
There is simply so much to love about this book and I enjoyed it tremendously. It makes for a gorgeous coffee table book that will be perfect for LEGO, Star Wars and toy photography fans.
I had pretty high expectations going into this book, as I’ve been following Avanaut’s work for years now and I have to say that the book really impressed me and exceeded those expectations. It’s a special kind of book – one that I would love to see DK produce more of as I really love that they’ve compiled all his work into a cool hardcover book.
The LEGO fan community is huge and filled with all sorts of exceptional talent and artists – I would really like DK to spotlight and feature more of that part of the community.
Star Wars: Small Scenes From A Big Galaxy is in my opinion, one of the must-buy books from DK this year (along with Great LEGO Sets). With Christmas coming up and Star Wars fever set to peak with the release of The Force Awakens, this book would also make the perfect gift for any LEGO or Star Wars fan.
I find that buying LEGO-themed books is always a much safer option than taking a punt on gifting a LEGO set which the recipient may already own.
I really enjoyed this book and I hope I’ll be able to convince you to pick a copy up as well, so you can enjoy it as much as I can. Go flip through it at your local bookstore and marvel at the photography yourself – words can’t quite convey the beauty and tiny nuances of Vesa’s work as much as actually experiencing them with your own eyes.
Special thanks to DK Australia for providing me with a review copy of Star Wars: Small Scenes From A Big Galaxy