Epic Self-Promotion: Photographer Has 400 Action Figures of Himself Made

Self-promotion is a tricky thing. We all know that marketing is probably more than half the battle when it comes to getting great clients (after all, no matter how good you are, they can’t hire you if they don’t know you exist) these days.

And now, as the photography market is becoming more and more saturated, the name of the game is “make an impression.” There are tens if not hundreds of photographers available pitching your client… how are you going to stand out?

We’ve seen fancy model car hard drives and flash drive, we’ve seen 35mm slide film business cards, but photographer Jens Lennartsson just took the cake (and did it with gusto): he created 400 ‘GI Jens’ action figures of himself to send out as promotional materials.




Yep, photographer action figures that, we have a feeling, will make a very distinct impression on his clients. If they have 100 portfolios to look through to decide who gets to shoot the next big project, do you really think they’ll skip over the one that comes attached to an action figure? We think not.

Here’s a snippet from a blog post by Lennartsson in which he answers the question “why and action figure?”:

Well, first of all: why the hell not!? Many photographers spend a lot of cash to design the perfect portfolio, print it and send to the people they want to work for. Just to have it disappear among hundreds of similar mailings.

If you’ve ever been in touch with an art director, art buyer or owner of an ad agency, you’ll know that they have a zillion things to do and as many people to meet. Unless you make an epic impression, you’ll be forgotten. I needed more than a paper folder to stand out. Besides showing my work, the marketing piece we were going to produce had to be something that:

  1. People would like to keep on their desk
  2. The owner would like to show to others
  3. In a second would present what Jens Lennartsson Photography is all about: raw and natural lifestyle and travel photography, without too much gear and Photoshop.




You can read all about the process of creating the action figure over on Lennartsson’s blog here. He basically outlines the steps necessary to do this all yourself.

For what it’s worth, though we’re sure at least a few people will see this as kitschy or tacky, the idea gets results. After all, we ARE talking about him aren’t we? And we have a feeling we won’t be the last photo blog to pick this story up.

(via ISO 1200)

Image credits: Photographs by Jens Lennartsson

  • Jens Lennartsson

    I also agree with Dave. Im REALLY tired of my waking up every day, having to deal with that blatant douch-baggery (funny expression!). Wish I could do anything about it. But it is hard to change what is already awesome!

  • David

    Honestly Jens, i don’t think my opinion of your work matters in the context of this conversation. If you are really interested in what i think though, google me first (David Sorcher), look at my work to determine if you even think my opinion matters to you and then email me (you’ll find my contact info in your search).

  • Kick-Ass Jess

    LOVE IT!!!!

  • R

    I think you’ve completely missed the mark with me Jens. But on the bright side I’ll let you in on the real world. We don’t want you as you are right now. That’s why you aren’t getting those jobs you seem to more desperately want. Your work is not at the level people who get paid well get paid to do. Those people who make the decisions at the studios like myself will get a kick out of you. But you aren’t knocking us off our feet. And for that we are out. I will save you the shipping cost to LA. Take 2 steps to the right and drop it in the trash. Thanks for your offer.



    Your point is? Talent is always going to get you the job… but all talent being equal, the guy who is memorable will get the brass ring.

  • Pete Ferling

    You might consider adding a pop up studio as part of an action play set. Maybe throw in a barbie doll for the model?

  • Azety

    wasnt talking about the portfolio but the fact.

  • Edwin

    Monster. Think as broadly or narrowly as you want. Just please god, don’t ever contrive to put me in a room near this character.

  • Edwin

    I like when guys named Jens use the term ‘hating’ and spell. Keep it realz y-o!

  • Valkyrie

    And NONE of those toys will get him any business whatsoever. Thrown money away on crap!

  • Jens Lennartsson

    haha, will do for 2014 ;)

  • Jens Lennartsson

    Me too. I love it.

  • machine

    But… will it blend?

  • amonkeyinmypocket

    I was simply repeating what he put on his action figure box.

    Next to no one uses only available light in a commercial setting.

  • Jenna Michele Shumate

    I thought the experience is supposed to be about the client, not the photographer? Seems like a result of the unfortunate ‘rockstar photog’ mindset…

  • jinx

    Cool idea, yes. But as usual, it takes a great deal to be truly new or original. About 10 years ago I saw a write up about a designer who did pretty much the exact same thing. His action figure even came came with a mouse!
    Nothing wrong with some self-promotion, especially in a market like this. And I think, judging by the number of comments, he’s doing just fine.

  • Fullstop

    Good. I was looking for negative nancy. I miss her.

  • Jens Lennartsson

    Aaaaaaaaaaand you dont have a clue what you are talking about……

  • Jens Lennartsson

    Yes? I am a rockstar. Dunno what you mean? I succeeded?

  • Valkyrie

    Oh but I do know. That kind of stunt costs money and gains you nothing.

  • Snarkasaurus

    Your frequency in commenting on this article is fairly telling regarding how much work this stunt has gotten you. Glad you have so much free time!

  • Snarkasaurus

    People mistakenly assume “viral” success equates to real world success. Often though, it’s just a flash in the pan. Give this stunt a few weeks to fade from the net’s memory and see if the tens of thousands of dollars spend on this goofy promo were actually worth it. I’m sure it’ll net a bit of business from a few who’re easily entertained, but the long-term ROI will probably be pretty poor.

    The messaging is where this really gets it wrong. This stunt will have him remembered as “that guy who made all those action figures” not “that guy who’s an awesome photographer.”

  • Jens Lennartsson

    Weird.. Doesnt look like that right now….

  • Snarkasaurus

    Give it a month.

  • hereatpsu

    So shun him.. why are you hanging out here and commenting about him then?

  • Brad Trent

    …I was joking…please turn your sarcasm meter up a notch!

  • Hollywooddog

    My hat is off to Jens for seeing this through to completion, and like it or not, I think it will be remembered. As photographers, aren’t we all trying to break through the noise and stand out from a sea of other photographers? This brings up an important point though: Is the creative hiring me or my work and to what degree is this hiring decision based on which? I’ve had creatives tell me point blank they don’t hire photographers they don’t know, so is getting the physical meeting first and foremost? I remember visiting a friend in NY who is a photo editor years ago, and him showing me a conference table with 100 or so books stacked on it. They were all black with the odd color here or there and the few “crazy” ones (leopard skin or purple fur). Which ones do you think DIDN’T get looked at?
    Back to the original question of who is hired by a creative, the person or the work. You clearly have to have a healthy sense of self to create an action figure of yourself, but is that going to be seen as egotistical? One thing is certain, the creative who opens the package is going to realize that a TON of money was spent on this promo, and will probably feel a little flattered that Jens thought enough of them to warrant this expensive promo. Well done Jens, and good luck to you!

  • michaelash

    the promo he’s sending out will for sure bring attention to his work
    however after reviewing his site I found nothing magical or unique to his vision
    bottom line is the WORK and if it’s not different no promotion will get you the work you are looking for

  • Snarkasaurus

    Sure, except all talent isn’t equal, and being memorable and mediocre isn’t going to get the brass ring.

  • Anonymoused

    Will do!

  • Steve A.

    ahhh I’m laughing at all the butthurt “pros” in the comments making fun of the guy for this reason or that reason when they are jealous of his creative ability and marketing. Nice work Jens.

  • jack

    Does it come with a tiny little penis?

  • Meg Moss

    Genius!!! I’m surprised one of the recipients hasn’t offered you a job in their marketing department. I want a a Jens doll on my desk. Meg@imagebrief

  • Jens Lennartsson

    No, the figure is very life like. So the penis is pretty large. Your mom would most certainly appreciate it.

  • jack

    Aaahhhh sorry I hurt u little feelings … Mayb ur mother can kiss IT and make it feel better

  • jeff

    Jens you just show the proof that you are a douchebag. We knew it since beginning but now its obvious.

  • Kitsu

    Sorry responding to this really late, but I like your marketing it’s very cute and unique. As for your online portfolio I liked it a lot as well. You’re a wonderful photographer.

  • Jon

    I would purposely no hire him because he seems like a douche. Good gumption, just in the wrong places.

  • zed

    This guy’s has an attitude and an unimpressive portfolio. Purports himself to be a teacher and a master, and even more ironically, “Zen…, but he has nothing to back it up.

  • Andrea Stenson

    Super fun! :)