Q&A with the Grand Prize Winner of RMSP’s 2023 High School Photo Contest

If you’ve been following Rocky Mountain School of Photography for a while, you may have seen the amazing image that recently won our 8th annual High School Photo Contest (see it below). It’s dang good! The photographer who made that image creates many unique scenes (mostly outdoors) using Lego minifigures as the subjects! And I recently had the chance to ask Megan Mitchel a few questions about her work and her experience winning the contest.

[All of the images in this article were created by Megan Mitchel.]

Can you describe your setup for the winning image? 

Megan: My setup for this shot was quite simple actually! I used wooden skewers and poked them into the carpet in our living room to elevate the Lego’s off the floor. I then set my camera on the ground and used a remote shutter to take the photo. I held a light with one hand and the vacuum in the other and took the photos. It was a lot of multitasking! I wanted to make sure the photo was bright so I experimented with moving the light at different angles.

How did Legos become your photo niche?

Megan: When I was starting out with photography, I had seen someone else take a photo with Lego mini figures. I thought it was a great idea, and since we had a lot of Lego’s already I gave it a try. I started to realize It was something I enjoyed as It was a more creative side of photography and very unique. I also found a great community of Lego photographers on Instagram which encouraged me to continue with the Lego photos and improve my photography. 

How do you generate photo ideas?

Megan: Usually, I have an idea in my head and will try my best to execute it. Sometimes it can be hard to come up with fresh Ideas and be creative. I take inspiration from other photographers as well and try to apply that to my photos. There are endless possibilities of ideas I could try! 

I think my favorite part of photography Is seeing the end result and making each photo better than the last. I also like to make my photos unique and to tell a strong story. This helps me to do my best work and try to make my photography the best it can be!

Did you have a hard time choosing which images to enter into our High School Photo Contest?

Megan: I had known about the contest because I had entered last year, but this year I didn’t feel like I had any photos that were worth entering. I never would have thought that my Lego photography would win! I entered pretty last minute, and chose some of my favorite photos that I thought would have a chance.

How did you feel when you learned that you were the grand prize winner?

Megan: My first thought was that it couldn’t possibly be true! I truly could not believe that my photo would have one first place let alone the grand prize! It was such an honor and it made me feel so much more confident in my work. I still often think about how unbelievable it is that I won this contest. Never think that you have no chance of winning because you never know!

What did you learn through the experience of winning the contest?

Megan: The one thing I learned is to never think that you have no chance of winning! I truly never thought that they would pick my photo, so when I won it was an amazing experience. I feel like I am able to move past being a beginner and can think ahead to what the future holds for my photography. Winning the contest was also a great boost of confidence and made me eager to continue with my photography journey. I can’t wait to see what the future holds!

What are your future plans for photography?

Megan: While I love Lego photography, I would also like to pursue other genres of photography in the future. I’m not quite sure yet where this will lead me, but I know that I want to do something in this field!

Do you only shoot Legos or do you also secretly shoot a ton of other stuff? What else do you enjoy shooting and why?

Megan: I shoot pretty much everything! Usually whenever I go somewhere where I know I can get good photos I bring my camera with me. I love nature photography and wildlife, which is why most of my Lego photography Is outdoors. I love being outside so capturing nature’s beauty through photography is something I enjoy.

What’s your favorite image you’ve made? 

Megan: I would say the photo with the Forest Elf mini-figure floating through the woods holding a flower is my favorite. It was actually one of my older shots but I really love how it turned out. 

How do you get into the zone when you’re shooting? What inspires you? Describe your creative process/pull us into your brain while you’re working.

Megan: Coming up with ideas is a large part of my photography. Sometimes I don’t have a set idea so I might look at my Lego’s and see what I can come up with based off of what I’ve already shot or haven’t shot. When I have an Idea that I like I will then figure out what I need to do the shot. Most of the time I do my photos outside in the woods, so I’ll grab the necessary gear and head outside. If I need to do the shot Inside, such as the vacuum photo, I need to get a little more technical with things like lighting and setting. When I have my shot set up I’ll then take the photo, usually I play around with perspectives, focal lengths, things like that. Sometimes a photo doesn’t turn out how I like so I’ll try something else. If I get a photo that I really like then I move to editing. Like I said earlier I love being outside, so being in nature with my camera helps me get in my zone. I am Inspired by seeing other photographers work as well as Imagining how I can make each photo better than the other. I like the more creative and cinematic side of photography so I like to think through each photo I take and what the result will look like. I’ve probably taken around or over 200 different Lego photos! 

Which image had the most elaborate setup? (do you have a setup/BTS photo for this one, too?)Megan: I have a few photos that have pretty elaborate setups, but I would say the most elaborate was the one with the scuba diver in the water. I used a fish tank and real water to take it. There was a lot of multitasking since I needed to hold the camera in one hand, make sure the Lego man wasn’t floating away and shake the fish tank so the water would have movement! It took me a little while and got a little frustrating but I finally got a great photo!

How does your gear affect your imagery? (Are you a gear nerd?!)

Megan: I’m not really a gear nerd, although I can definitely appreciate high quality equipment! Before I won all this amazing new gear I was using a relatively entry-level camera. It worked great, and I have always been a strong believer that you don’t need expensive gear to take good photos!

What would you say to other high schoolers entering our future contests?

Megan: Don’t ever feel like your photo isn’t good enough or that you have no chance of winning! I definitely thought that too and I never would have believed that I would win the grand prize! It’s a great opportunity for high schoolers and encourage any photographer still in high school to enter!

Is there anything else you’d love for people to know about your work?

Megan: My photography process is very simple! The things I use to set up my shots are stuff I have around my house like wooden skewers, a chair and who knows what else! We don’t need everything to be expensive or “professional” to take good photos.

To enter our next annual High School Photo Contest, click here.

To view more of Megan Mitchel’s work, click here.

Rocky Mountain School of Photography offers two immersive, experiential photography programs, Professional Intensive for aspiring pros, and Summer Intensive for avid hobbyists. We also have a growing catalog of Online Courses and an active YouTube channel with nearly 100K subscribers.


  • Sarah Chaput de Saintonge

    Sarah Chaput de Saintonge helps shape the direction of Rocky Mountain School of Photography with her husband, Forest. She has a BA in photojournalism and enjoys experimenting with many kinds of photography, but her primary interest is portraiture. She attended RMSP's Career Training program in 2011, ran a business in consumer portraiture for a while, then started working as an instructor for RMSP. She has successfully completed multiple (as in seven) "365 projects" (take a photo a day for a year), and once made it to 155 consecutive days of making self portraits. She loves people, image editing, composition, film, her family, and food.