Maëlick in the North

Toy Photography in Northern Finland, Sweden and Norway

Woody’s Ethylic Love Story

In western countries, drinking alcohol is not only largely accepted but also largely encouraged. I do not blame the act of drinking alcohol and understand how and why people do it. I myself often enjoy giving in to drinking a few beers. However, having witnessed people close to me falling into serious alcoholism, I can’t stress enough the dangers of its long term effects.

This blog post contains a photo series about alcohol, initially made for Stuck In Plastic “make it seem” challenge. The remaining of this blog post consist mainly of aggregated content of the photo description posted on Social Media in September 2016.

Woody’s Ethylic Love Story – 1/8

The Challenge

The goal of the “Make it seem” challenge was to take four different photos and make it convey a message different than the one first intended. For this challenge, I didn’t want to take four photos that would be more or less unrelated to each other. One of the goals I set to myself in 2016 was to try to make my work more coherent. So I decided to transform this challenge into a small project. My goal was to take a series of photos that would tell a single story.

Woody’s Ethylic Love Story – 2/8

The project

This “small” project became the first well-defined one on which I spent months before being feeling confident enough in posting results online. I procrastinated a lot, but this procrastination has been both useful and essential.

I didn’t spend much time in front of my camera, but I spent time thinking. Thinking about what I was going to do, how and why, on an almost daily basis. The more I was thinking though, the more I realized that most of my ideas could be interpreted very differently depending on the point of view.

Instead of taking a happy photo and make it seem sad, and, a sad photo and make it seem beautiful, couldn’t I take a single photo that is happy, beautiful and/or sad depending on the way one looks at it? I was even more disturbed with making a photo that is “normal” and making it seem shocking. What is something normal? I do not consider myself normal so how am I supposed to make a “normal photo”?

Woody’s Ethylic Love Story – 3/8

For this reason, I decided to start with: “Make a photograph of something that you want the world to know about and make it urgent”. It meant to me that for once I had to make a photo about a serious topic.

The idea

There are things I want the world to know about, and these are generally serious topics. I have to admit that with my photos I want to make people dream rather than think about reality. But couldn’t I make an exception and use toy photography to talk about a serious topic? One of those serious topics, which I think is important to talk about, is alcoholism and its long terms effects. Still, I wanted to talk about that serious topic using humor (or is it irony?).

Woody’s Ethylic Love Story – 4/8

Since April, I knew I wanted to use Woody as the main subject and the story I wanted to tell. However, in June I was still stuck with zero photos. As soon as I arrived in Norway by the end of the month, I knew that I had to complete this challenge there if I wanted to get results before the end of the year.

On my first evening, I went hiking in the woods nearby Bergen and forced myself to take photos. It’s been such a surprise how inspiring the Norwegian woods are. In less than an hour, I had more than a hundred photos for the challenge. This next photo could sum up what inspired me there: the epic green moss of the epic green forests.

Woody’s Ethylic Love Story – 5/8

The wait

Even though I took all the photos I needed for the challenge while I was in Norway and was very eager to share the result online too, I waited before posting anything. I had a lot of photos for the challenge and needed to narrow down the number. I also had no idea what was the right number.

So I spent some time looking at my photos before making any decision about which ones should be part of the series. I often take (at least) a few days before making choices about what will make its way online, but here it was longer than usual. While the goal of the challenge was to make four photos, I haven’t been able to go below eight.

Woody’s Ethylic Love Story – 6/8


The last thing that was missing was making decisions regarding post-processing. I enjoy taking photos or looking at them, but I don’t like spending a lot of time on my computer post-processing them.

Thus, I process most of my photos the same way in Lightroom. I mostly use custom presets and a few adjustments to fix the exposure or increase the contrast a little bit.

But here I wanted to take my time and make more efforts to give a coherent and specific feel to the series. In particular, I’ve been particularly careful about the color tone of the photos. I wanted to keep the quite punchy colors I give to all my photos, but on the other hand, I wanted to give them a kind of desaturated/aged look.

Woody’s Ethylic Love Story – 7/8

A look back at the project

Looking at my photos, I’ve wondered many times if I’ve really been successful with respect to the original challenge. I have no doubt that all my previous photos are supposed to be happy: they’re about a love story.

But was I successful in making them look sad? Similarly are these photos shocking or will they simply look like some funny photos with Woody? I guess it will depend on who will look at the series and how.

Because I was concerned about this since the beginning, I knew I had to end the series with something different. I assumed that a love story is something happy. However all love stories do not end well, some even don’t start well.

This one, in particular, a love story between a cowboy and a bottle of German alcohol, couldn’t end well.

Woody’s Ethylic Love Story – 8/8
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  1. Karine 2017-04-27

    I discover your work and those pictures are so nice! I love the colors and the green background!

    I think you archive you goal because when I look at the first pictures I laugh (the face of Woody!), then I see all the love Woody has to his bottle (like it’s his wife) and in the last picture I feel sad, because it remember me all my friends I saw at the end of the night, completely drunk on the flloor.

    (Hope my english is understandable!)

    • Reiterlied 2017-04-27 — Post Author

      Dême, j’aime beaucoup tes photos de squelettes!

      (Je suis aussi francophone à la base ;-))

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