These Incredible Moon Mission Photos Are Actually Lego Scenes

On the left, a rocket is launching with bright flames and smoke. On the right, a space station orbits above a crater-filled lunar surface under a black sky. FigsFanPhotos text appears twice on the image.

For many children, Lego provides a fun way to be creative and learn new skills. For some, Lego becomes a lifelong passion that continues to transport them to imaginative new places. Photographer Benedek Lampert is one of these people, as evidenced by his latest project that uses clever Lego building and brilliant photography skills to recreate space photos.

By improving upon forced perspective techniques used in some of his previous work –accented with some clever lighting and prop-making — Lampert was able to use the 3,601-piece NASA Artemis Rocket Lego set to create an incredibly realistic rocket launch.

“Every Lego photoshoot starts with the building of the set itself. I love to build with Lego so it’s not a problem for me, but there were some hard parts, [like] when I built the tower, which was challenging because of the repetitive/similar looking tower blocks. At least this gave me the time to think about the shooting process,” Lampert tells PetaPixel. “I always imagine in my head the photo first. I only can think about the technical solutions, if I know exactly what I want to see.”

A model rocket launches into the sky, emitting bright flames and smoke from its base. The rocket, with a prominent red and white color scheme, stands on a launch pad structure extending high above it. The background features a dark sky, emphasizing the rocket's illumination.

According to Lampert, the space sets are among his favorites to work with as he’s a bit of an amateur “space junkie” and Moon-landing fanatic. As such, he’s even made several educational videos about the topic from a photographer’s perspective and has engaged in “healthy” debates with several conspiracy theorists.

“I am really passionate about this, it’s fascinating how people in the Apollo program could do this almost impossible challenge. And now we do it again, but at a next level! In their (the scientists, astronauts, engineers) honor I put every knowledge and energy into this photography project. I wanted to make something “WOW” which is worthy of this mission.”

Lampert normally builds these sets on a live stream on his various social media channels so his followers can see the process from start to finish. He says it’s a great way for him to engage in conversation with fellow Lego and photography enthusiasts, which can make the process all the more fun, especially when the sets can take many hours to complete.

For this particular set, Lampert did a lot of homework to understand what the Artemis program was all about. He wanted to answer questions such as, “Why would we go back to the Moon in the first place? How do we get there? What are the long term goals and plans once we’ve gotten there?” All of which he says was very exciting.

“The Artemis program is actually the first step to landing on Mars. Long story short, the Artemis program’s main goal is to create a permanent Moon base where we can start our journey to Mars.”

An artificial satellite with solar panels orbits above a cratered, rocky surface of the moon, with a faint blue line visible in the background. The image is marked with a watermark "FIGSFAN PHOTOS" on the left side. .

After studying several photos and videos of actual launches and explanations of how the Orion works, Lampert began planning his images for this set using actual scientific details.

“For example: on the Orion photo I was wondering if I should put some engine fire behind the module (because that would look cool). So I watched some video simulations and I saw that during the Moon orbit they won’t use thrust. That only happens during the Earth to Moon path. Once they reach the Moon, the gravity does its job and keeps the Orion capsule in motion,” Lampert explains.

Lampert says the biggest challenge with this set was the actual lift-off image. He knew he would end up using cotton balls for the smoke plumes and a nearby airfield would be the perfect and easy to access location to set up the project.

There were issues, though, including a slight miscalculation on the number of cotton balls he’d need, as he nearly ran out, followed by a massive swarm of mosquitos, which made keeping a steady hand during the build and moving the rocket an enormous challenge. Further, the rocket fell before the final photo, so Lampert had to return home to rebuild it before finishing the photoshoot, which meant enduring the mosquitos again. The lengths photographers will go to.

A large rocket on a launch pad is ready for takeoff against a partly cloudy sky. The sunlight illuminates the rocket, creating a dramatic and powerful scene. The rocket is surrounded by scaffolding and other launch structures.

Getting the fire and smoke to look realistic was equally challenging. It required several buildouts and test shots using multiple flashlights blended with natural light to get it right in camera.

A camera is positioned in front of a detailed model of a cratered lunar surface. The camera's live view screen shows a close-up of the mock lunar terrain, with a wooden stick supporting small flags or markers, suggesting a setup for a photography or scientific model demonstration.

To build the Moon set for the Orion photograph, Lampert used a simple A4 piece of paper and compressed the gypsum powder on the table to get smooth surfaces mixed with the powder texture where he used his finger to “hand-draw” craters for the Moon’s surface.

Lampert says that working with Lego has been an absolute dream come true. He created all of these images using a Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 f/2.8, Laowa 15mm f/4 macro, and an old Nikon SB-24 flash. “Toy photography is a passion that comes from the heart,” Lampert says. His love for the craft is immediately clear when looking at his work.

Lampert offers the following advice for those interested in creating their own Lego or toy photographs: “Study the lights, and how to light up a scene realistically. Toy photography is not a beginner genre, so the key is patience and learning. You have to know your camera well, and also the post processing that how you can create a moody color grade. I usually observe my real life environment, and how the lights or other objects behave. We can learn about that a lot if we analyze our real world. Only after this, we will be able to bring it to miniature scale.”

To see more of Benedek Lampert’s work, visit him on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, or YouTube.

Image credits: Photographs by Benedek Lampert