Bryan Regan Builds Nostalgia with Abrams’ LEGO Book

Jun 18, 2019
Photographer Spotlight

LEGOs don’t just connect to each other. They connect generations. The classic toy has provided foundational memories for children the world over. And LEGOs have been doing so for decades. Bryan Regan, a Raleigh, NC-based photographer, grew up playing with the blocks himself. So imagine the thrill Bryan received when he got the call to photograph bad boys like this one:

A replica of City Hall in NYC

I was approached by Abrams Books, a company that is dedicated to publishing stunning visual books on a wide variety of subjects including art, photography, performing arts, fashion, interior design, and nature and science. 

They were working with a LEGO builder Jonathan Lopes and were interested in doing a fine art LEGO book of his creations of NYC. Jonathan tours the country with BrickUniverse, a traveling LEGO convention, where he shows his work.

Bryan heard from Abrams after the company found his Instagram page. Abrams contracted Bryan to shoot some of Lopes' work when BrickUniverse traveled to Raleigh.  The photographs would then be used in the book, New York City Brick by Brick: The Art of LEGO Construction. Fortunately for Bryan, the BrickUniverse exhibit was right down the road from his studio.   

The front cover of NYC Brick by Brick

The Manhattan Bridge, as featured in NYC Brick by Brick

Bryan had never photographed LEGOs before but brought years of experience in still-life photography to the table. When it comes to still-life, Bryan is always “trying to find the right angles to photograph the pieces and deal with the reflections.”

The iconic Woolworth's building, created by Jonathan Lopes, shot by Bryan ReganA behind-the-scenes look at the Manhattan Bridge exhibit

Lopes might have turned his hobby into a living, but it still takes a lot of work. Lopes has always made it a priority to study the buildings he replicates in order to bring them to life in LEGO form.

Jonathan Lopes puts the finishing touches on the Woolworth Building
Lego builder Jonathan Lopes puts the finishing touches on one of his creations.

His replica of the Williamsburg Savings Bank in Brooklyn took him about 14 hours and 12,000 LEGO bricks to construct. Other structures can take years to create. On occasion, Lopes has to do some serious digging to find the right bricks. As Bryan puts it:

There is an entire art to building a substructure to these giant pieces. Some super glue involved. There are so many discontinued colors and shapes and an entire underground market for LEGOs.

LEGO became iconic for its ability to emulate what architecture does: blend art and science to produce awe-inspiring creations. Though Bryan says the goal was to make a fine art book, he notes that there’s plenty to learn about when it comes to how the original buildings were erected. 

Before I started the project, I’d looked at some Lego books and I have to say I’m very impressed with the way Abrams designed and published the book. It really is more of an art book but still contains the diagrams for building the structures.

One of the buildings featured in NYC Brick by Brick

The back cover of NYC Brick by Brick

If you live in NYC, you should have one on your coffee table.


LEGO Artist: Jonathan Lopes

Publisher: Abrams Books 

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