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

  • Ian

    Epic is right! Best self promo ever!

  • RadDLX

    yet another bizarre example of the extreme self-absorption of the Facebook generation. we are all superheroes in our own worlds.

  • sum_it

    the biggest question is: how expensive was this process?

  • Kitsu

    It has nothing to do with Facebook or self-absorption. You have to do something rather unique to get your portfolios out there these days.
    While I think it looks a little silly, and I giggle when I see the action figure, I bet he’ll be remembered.

  • Senen L

    The fact that it got published here is VERY good. He’s getting everyone’s attention .

  • Brad Trent

    Oh please! First off, where’s your sense of humor, and secondly, photographers have always promoted themselves in ego-centric ways! In case you missed it, it’s called SELF-promotion. Getting your name recognized is job one and in my opinion, this guy hit a creative home run.

  • Guest

    Some people are photographer to sell themselves … ” ME ME ME ME “. What about the photograhy ?

  • Kitsu

    Exactly! Brilliant self promotion.

  • Kitsu

    There are different types of photography.
    Some are commercial. It isn’t “ME ME ME” it is HOW we promote ourselves, how we promote our art and how we are able to make a living off of what we love.

    Without promotional material and a portfolio you aren’t going to get very far as a commercial artist.

    Read the article.

  • RadDLX

    well, that’s your opinion. I respectfully disagree. I also ask you to think more broadly as you seem to be hung up on the details of your own misinterpretation.

  • behindthecamera

    Brilliant. What more can you say?

  • Azety

    ok i dont want to speak about this anymore. Waste of time.
    Just saying. Too much ” me / im photographer ” on internet. Not enough quality.

  • RadDLX

    well, this is my opinion. continue to judge it as you please.

  • Kitsu

    Right, and I guarantee you haven’t even looked at the guy’s portfolio.

    If you didn’t want to speak about it you shouldn’t have posted it to begin with.

  • RadDLX

    a very narrow definition of success, indeed

  • Guest

    There’s always a negative nancy somewhere

  • Senen L

    There’s always a negative nancy everywhere

  • SaveTheWorldGetTheGirl

    What’s more likely to happen is that an OA will receive it and possibly just toss the whole thing, because it looks like marketing swag.

  • BAC1967

    But does it come with the action tripod accessory?

  • Kitsu

    Maybe, maybe not. Some might toss it, others might find it rather ingenious.
    I’d like to see a follow up of this post in any case. :)

  • Brad Trent

    Hold on, Sparky…you implied the guy is “self-absorbed” and knock what is an incredibly inventive promotion campaign, but I dare say you have zero idea what it takes to get noticed by an advertising agency. I can pretty much guarantee his superhuman effort is not going unnoticed by the creative professionals who were on the receiving end of this project and whatever the whole thing cost…and believe me, this wasn’t cheap…is easily going to be forgotten with the billings he’s gonna see in the coming months!

    It’s very easy to spit out a negative comment like yours. Maybe you can show us some of your own promotional materials and we’ll see how well you do in the court of public opinion….

  • mthouston

    I think it is brilliant…wish I thought of it first…

  • Kitsu

    You’re telling me to look more broadly and yet you’re the one who is narrowing the scope. It’s good he is going into something beyond a traditional black book and business card!

  • Sean McCann

    They are pretty easy to find, and not very impressive.

  • mthouston

    How so?

  • btezra

    when you don’t have talent you need to rely on shtick

  • Bryan Decker

    Like it or not, it does accomplish his goal of standing out. Certainly some will pass it over as corny or cheap, but others will definitely call coworkers into their office and say, “look at what this guy sent me!”. I think he is also fortunate to look like an action figure already. Most would not be as impressed with a figurine of a dumpy old guy with glasses and a Hawaiian shirt.

  • Ronald

    Looks like the color matching was a bit off. The figure’s jacket looks too green compared to the real one.

  • you internet badace

    what is your web-aggression overcompensating for? that outdated super-clarity look in your portfolio?

  • Brad Trent

    I’m thinking the 400 people on his distribution list were very well considered. Most creatives are used to getting self promotion materials and examples like this rarely get tossed.

  • Brad Trent

    Love you too, Sweetie…keep up the good work!

  • Anthony

    Wow, although a little bulkier then a business card, it’ll definitely have that memorable “wow” factor to it. I want one, or better yet, I want one done of myself. Great idea!

  • John Adkins

    Now that is some serious narcissism! lol

  • Anonymoused

    CUTE, wow, love it! I’d buy one if I could!

  • mthouston

    And some people want to make photography their career and have to come with creative ideas to promote their work…
    Do you have any idea how much some “stuff” art directors and art buyers get every day? If want work, you have to promote yourself, you have to do something that get the attention of the buyers.

  • Dominique

    Well he definitely achieved this promotion goals, he’s all over Facebook! Hey, he’s adorable, I wouldn’t mind one of those dolls! Good job man!

  • Lawrence Sheperd

    Talent has almost nothing to do with getting a foot in the door.

  • Brad Trent

    Sometimes a little narcissism is a good thing…..

  • R

    Valiant effort and warm-hearted intention aside who would REALLY keep this? Build and design quality are subpar and it’s a statue of a man you’ve never met. Not your best bud, coworker, acquaintance or even that cousin you never knew that got famous – it’s just some guy who might know his way around a 1D. Where’s my karate camera chopping action – not included you say? Why not? For me a person bold enough to make this statement on this level deserves the highest scrutiny. And to be honest I’m already halfway to the trash seeing your logo, underwhelming package design and video I can’t take seriously.

    Question for you now is “Do you do birthdays?”


  • Jake

    What? No Ku-Fu grip or spring-powered rocket launcher? My Ninja Turtles and Power Rangers action figures would annihilate this guy!

  • Shae Flan

    Great idea. But if you’re going to take the time to do something this over the top then you should probably take the time to proofread the print on the box before it goes out to mass production. “Slighty Afraid of the Dark” on the back of the box. There is an “L” missing there. Some clients may see this as a person who doesn’t pay close enough attention to the little details. I still commend him for the originality.

  • Stormin

    most of the poses make him look like he’s ‘chimping’

  • timisthedevil

    Kung-Fu Battery Grip sold separately, and for more than you’d expect.

  • Burnin Biomass

    I think its a nifty, clever marketing idea. Many will even keep these and pull them out to show others “look what this guy sent me!”.

    To those worried about the marketing being “self absorbed”… well yes. In self promotion, there is a good chunk of “its all about me”. It has to be.

  • DumbPeopleAreDumb

    Imagine what he’s like to work with. I always thought photogs were supposed to be behind the camera and let their images speak for them. As an ad agency, I’d skip this guy without even thinking twice. We’ve all had nightmare clients, this is what douchebaggery looks like. When your work alone doesn’t cut, bring in the gimmicks.

  • Praverb

    Great marketing idea

  • David

    This is a brilliant idea! Wish i thought of it and had the money to implement it. Promotion IS important and this is clever and different. It will most certainly get SOMEBODY to take notice of his work. HOWEVER…it’s still his WORK that will get him beyond the front door and into the jobs. No matter how good your gimmick is, your portfolio needs to be stellar and stand out even more than your promotion. Is Jens’ work stellar? I’ve had a close look at his portfolios, but i will reserve comment because what i think of his work hardly matters. It what the creatives think that will get him hired. Great idea for getting those people to look at you though.

  • SaveTheWorldGetTheGirl

    I agree that most creatives are used to getting self-promotion materials, however I think that’s precisely why this will get tossed. I don’t have room on my desk for a statuette of some guy I’ve never met.

  • Brad Trent

    Wow…what open-minded thinking must be going on over at that ‘ad agency’ you call home?!! Without even looking at his portfolio, you already know his work sucks and he’s a douchebag, to boot! But then ‘Mr. DumbPeopleAreDumb’…you’re posting anonymously, so I have no way of knowing if there even is an ‘ad agency’, or if you’re just another guy who likes to piss on other people’s creativity cuz you didn’t think of it first…

  • harumph

    Very. I have a friend in the independent toy business who does this sort of limited run stuff for a living, and a run of 400 plus paint plus packaging can easily run north of $30,000.