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

    Sorry, man :) I think it might have been easier but a lot more expensive. did not check that option very much though,,, Thanks! :)

  • Stefano Druetta

    I didn’t have the money to make it anyway : )
    I wish you all the best with this project, REEAAALLY!

  • Jens Lennartsson

    Your welcome, dear sir!

  • Jens Lennartsson

    The answer to that problem is: old bread, water and an occasional dead rat now and then. Saves you a lot! ;)

  • Sean McCann

    I am? Is this the twilight zone or something?

  • Stefano Druetta

    you know this isn’t funny, do ya?
    did I say egomaniac in my first comment? there you go. I’m checking some of your answers below, and I couldn’t be more dead on in the first place.
    wish you all the best, for real!

  • Matt Lennard

    Is there a Fleshlight version?

  • Jens Lennartsson

    Dont know what you wrote, I’m not reading full comments unless i wrote them myself!

    Thanks, man! :)

  • amonkeyinmypocket

    Yeah, “flash,” apparently.

  • Jens Lennartsson

    Nah, i didnt miss it. I learned to work with the ambient light instead.

  • Aezreth

    Cool and funny promotional idea, but looking at the portfolio after reading “raw and natural lifestyle and travel photography, without too much gear and Photoshop” made me laugh out loud.

  • amonkeyinmypocket

    A.k.a. “ignorant of basic principles of photography.”

    As I said: good luck.

  • foggodyssey

    For anyone wanting to do this as well… be careful when using when looking for a Chinese manufacture to produce these. Case-N-Point: see photo below. Not sure who screwed up on this one but if they are using this as an example you can pretty much guarantee this manufacture doesn’t have a clue (or care) in what they are doing. Lots of manufactures on there just wanting your money with no due diligence to quality assurance.

  • Nate Parker

    now that’s funny-

  • Jens Lennartsson

    Thank you! Good to have your support! I will tell Capa and the guys you said hello….

  • Delbert Rose

    Dude, seriously mr “Guest”. It’s called MARKETING. You know that thing that companies have to do to get business? Yeah, the clothes you bought, the car you drive, the phone you use, etc…. How do you think you knew about them? Oh yeah…MARKETING.

    Funny thing is you’re getting more attention than Jens.

    Jens, I like this. I may use something like this myself in my welcome packages. At least until every other photographer decides to do it too.

  • raysot

    Jealousy is so ugly…

  • Ed Krisiak

    A fun project but still a waste time and money.

  • dudung10

    i want 1

  • Jens Lennartsson

    Its up for 2014.

  • Jens Lennartsson


  • Lori Martini

    Apparently imitation is the perfect form of flattery. I made bobblehead dolls of myself back in 2005 and 2009 to send to casting directors. I was told it was the best headshot ever.

  • melissa

    This was very unique! What would be even more awesome is if you could make an action figure for clients but I guess that wouldn’t be in the photography field! Wish you the best of luck!

  • amonkeyinmypocket

    I’m not aware of Capa’s commercial work.

    But hey, at least you know some history. That’s got to count for something, eh?

  • Snarkasaurus

    Search through some agency’s bins in Sweden, I’m sure you’re bound to find some…

  • alreadyupsidedown

    Who’s the d-bag who went to the effort to down-vote every single one of Jens Lennartsson’s comments?

    I can only imagine how satisfying that must feel….

  • bumstom

    Nice observation, thank you; but no, there’s no reason other than the perceived one. It’s a shortened version of a thing I made up just to comment here, which I was compelled to do because this 400 dolls thing is clearly far out of reach for most young (or old) artists trying to get their name out there. You’re handsome and lucky and have access to lots of dolls and beautiful packaging.

  • Guest

    Great idea! Wish we’d thought of it! =>

  • Kevin Loh

    Awesome idea Jens! Wish we’d thought of it! /me goes back to kick over the stockpile of promotional pens.

  • Jens Lennartsson

    Dear mr Ass.
    I can assure you that its noone but me that have made it possible to do this project. It is not my parents or any fund paying for it. What is paying for it is hard work and persistence. The handsomeness was pure luck though, thank you for noticing.

  • Lucas Kschischang

    Except for your narcissistic ass; you’re much more advanced than the rest of human kind, right?

  • Jens Lennartsson

    Thats what my history teacher said…

  • Lucas Kschischang

    Unless you’re talking about a proper lighting setup, next to no-one uses “flash” in a commercial setting.

  • Jens Lennartsson

    It’s a good thing. If he’s here voting down comment, we’ll keep him of the streets! Im gonna upvote this comment so that he has to click it TWICE! Hahaahahahhaa!


  • Jens Lennartsson

    Hey man, there is lots of other ideas just waiting to be done! :)

  • Genkakuzai

    Wouldn’t we all!

  • Nomad Travel

    You need quite a lot of self-confidence and ego to do something like that! But it’s getting viral, so it worked out probably
    Davide from Nomad TraveLLerS

  • Alexander Petricca

    People here might criticise him but this has gone viral in a matter of days, including National Press here in the UK. He’s now been seen and noticed by countless picture editors for countless publications and thats before you even consider commercial clients that will pick up on this. Mock him all you want- I say good job buddy.

  • Snarkasaurus

    The guy who nailed his balls to the ground went viral too. Doesn’t automatically make it a good idea.

    Eventually people are going to get past the schlocky viral aspect and actually look at Jens’ portfolio.

  • Pete Ferling

    LOL. That’s Awesome! While Jen is ‘first to market’ with this concept, doesn’t mean others can’t try different things. This is marketing 101 and I’ve see all kinds of stuff from the big firms to resumes’, all trying to win our attention. Our Art Director had a collection of these things adorning his office. So it’s more than just having “stuff”, it gotta be creative, and show that your more than a button pusher. I think Jen did just that (including the package and presentation). None of us would have considered this arrogant but funny instead (you have to understand the marketing personality to know), his action figure would have made the Monday meeting for sure.

    For smaller runs to target a select few clients or on demand, you can use 3D printing, or purchase one yourself, (head over to 3dersDOTorg). I’ve done this for prototypes in my engineering days. Another is 3D laser etching, (Image attached). We’ve always liked receiving the little white boxes, as the thick padded envelopes and CDs wound up on a pile for maybe later (trash).

  • tomdavidsonjr

    I don’t want to live on this planet anymore…

  • Jens Lennartsson

    Actually, it was in a matter of hours. I was pretty shocked for a while there :)

  • Adam Smith

    I would expect that they made a 3D print, then a resin-cast master which they refined and smoothed, then a production silicone mold of that (probably a couple of them) from which they did the 400 pulls. The $15k figure seems reasonable for that. For a toy-industry-standard articulated PVC action figure, that much money wouldn’t even get you the metal die set for one body part, and you’d never do that process for a 400 piece run. Toy companies amortize their dies costs over runs of hundreds of thousands of parts.

  • Leighton DaCosta

    How’s the shade under that bridge? I think he explained more out of courtesy than necessity. Is it original? Yeah, I think so as far as action figures go. I have seen bobble heads too. As well as coffee mugs, candies, and all other kinds of promotional items to get a potential client to look at your work. There was a time that having a well composed portfolio was all the difference, just like websites. Now “EVERYONE” has that, so it is that little extra effort that a client sees that you want their business. I applaud him on being different and thinking out the box.

  • CptNerd

    Right, if you want business for yourself as a photographer, why would you promote other photographers?

  • CptNerd

    Isn’t the fact that you’re not an art director saying something?

  • CptNerd

    Besides, it’s not your money, so you don’t get to decide if it’s a “waste” or not.

  • CptNerd

    “Basic principles of photography?” Please can you show us your portfolio demonstrating your expert use of these “basic principles of photography” that you’ve mastered?

  • agreed

    I agree with Dave. Jens loves himself way too much, and that comes across not only as narcissism, but also as blatant douche-baggery.

  • agreed

    Agreed. Totally mediocre photographs. I’ve read several of his own condescending, pompous comments here. He clearly thinks he’s the greatest thing ever. None of our comments would shake that belief. But maybe he could work on shooting more interesting photos for the rest of us.