As one of the most famous landscape photographers of all time, Ansel Adams has inspired generations of photography lovers. This includes Nick Micheels, who transformed his love for Adams' work into an incredible idea for a LEGO set. Micheels spent one month designing the 1,104-piece set, which he then posted to the LEGO Ideas website. Called “The Landscape Photographer,” Micheels' idea was selected as a Staff Pick and is nearing the 10,000 votes it needs to be considered for production.
Like many of us, Micheels enjoyed playing with LEGOs during childhood, but felt he'd grown out of the hobby. However, during the pandemic, he rediscovered his passion and started designing LEGO sets, which he posts on LEGO Ideas under the name Lobster Thermidor.
“Building LEGO sets is sort of therapeutic to me, and designing them is almost meditative,” he tells My Modern Met. “I find designing LEGO models and photography to be similar in that regard—there is something immensely satisfying about melding pre-existing shapes into recognizable forms.”
Micheels himself is a photographer and has admired Adams' work since he was a child. So, it only seemed natural to translate his admiration into a LEGO tribute to the American photographer.
“When I was young, my parents gave me a book of Ansel Adams photographs of the National Parks, and I have always been inspired by the compositions and his ability to capture scale in his photographs. His compositions are so well balanced regardless of the size of the subject.”
The set comes complete with Adams' signature 8×10 large format camera, which can be set up on top of a wood grain station wagon—just as he did to get the best view for his photos. LEGO versions of yellow monkeyflower, white leaf manzanita, and a ponderosa pine tree fill out the scene and immerse us in the world that Adams loved. The choice of foliage is no accident either. Micheels selected plants native to the photographer's beloved Yosemite.
For Micheels, the most challenging part of creating The Landscape Photographer was the station wagon. “I had never tried building a car before this set so I was intimidated by the idea,” he confessed. After cycling through many iterations and getting valuable feedback from his wife, Micheels was able to settle on something he was happy with.
Recreating Adams' camera on such a small scale was also quite difficult and, in a similar fashion, Micheels went through several designs before arriving at the final version. “I really wanted to get as many details right as I could. I even made a second lens and put it in the photographer's kit so you can swap lenses if needed.”
With over 8,500 votes on LEGO Ideas, The Landscape Photographer is on track to hit 10,000 supporters. Once that happens, the official LEGO team will take a look at the design in order to determine if it's suitable for production. For Micheels, the chance to see his design come to life would be a dream come true.
“I would love to see how the design team at LEGO can take this idea and run with it, and I would be elated to see this set on the shelves and to have the chance to build it with my kids.”
If you want to see The Landscape Photographer become a purchasable set, head over to its LEGO Ideas page to support it with your vote.