Hey there guys,
As my first blog after the introductory one I thought this topic to be just apt. Now when I say 7 Tips on Starting with Toy Photography, I mean that these are 7 tips that I wish I knew when starting off myself nearly a year and a half back. While that time period might sound really short, when it comes to toy photography and having to have content for nearly 5 days a week, it seems like quite a long time.
And it probably is. I have recently crossed my mark of 10,000 photos clicked. Now out of these 10,000 I have uploaded only around 180 or so. So these 7 tips are what I’ve gathered after having taken these 10,000 photographs.
Of course I am no expert and there are many artists out there who’ve been doing this for far longer than I have, but as one amateur to another, this is what I’d like to share.
So here goes.
- Know your gear; it is best to know the strengths and limitations of your camera and also of your subjects (action figures). It is of paramount importance for the photographer to know till what extent can he/she push the camera’s ISO before the image turns grainy, should they choose to shoot in low light settings. Next comes understanding your figure. Always practice posing around the figure, be a child and play with the figure, (because what better way to play with toys at 25 than to say it’s for artistic purposes) to know to what extent can you push the figure and what stance gives it the best balance and which angles of the head denote different emotions.
- Understand the character; Try knowing a decent amount of back story of the character you’re photographing. It always helps if you know a little about where the character comes from, the kind of emotions portrayed or the fears, strengths and weakness’ of the character. If you wish you can even turn the whole concept around on its head and put the character in situations that they would never be found in to make the character stand out. After all you are the artist and the creator, the fate and story of your figures lies in your hands.
- Fill the frame; Always get in close to your subject and fill the frame, the only breathing room to be left for the subject is when you as an artist feel it is important to do so. Try getting a basic understanding of photography concepts such as Depth of Field (DoF), Rule of Thirds and Aperture as these three elements go a long way in creating an engaging and pleasing photographs when it comes to toy photography. It’s practically mandatory to have a good Macro lens when it comes to toy photography as those lenses really bring out the details of your figures. Two stellar models are the Canon L Series 100mm Macro Lens and the Tamron 90mm VC Macro Lens.
- Take more photographs, it is imperative you understand that more photographs means a lot of time would go in segregating them later but it really pays off. In photography 1 second could be the difference between the perfect shot and a good shot. And everyone wants the perfect shot. So take more photographs per set up. If you have a camera that has a good FPS (frames per second) count, take full advantage of that and squeeze out every last frame you can from each burst. The Canon 7D and Sony A99 Mark II are two cameras that come to mind with some spectacular FPS numbers, 10 and 12 frames per second respectively. I usually go about taking 70 to 80 shots per set up and then cut it down to 10, then to 5 and then to 3. Depending on which two of those 3 look the best on Instagram and Facebook, I go ahead and process and upload those.
- Use Hashtags, trust me I truly wish someone had told me that putting hashtags doesn’t make your post any less amazing than it is. In fact a lot of people scoff at the use of hashtags. But the truth of the matter is that hashtags help other like minded people find your work, thereby increasing its exposure to your target audience. Make sure to use them correctly. Do a little bit of research by simply typing out keywords you’d want to tag your post with and then check the different variants of that word and use what you feel suits your image the best.
- Post frequently, in today’s day and age of digital media, quality and frequency of content is everything. If you have quality but no frequency, people would love your work when they’d see it but wouldn’t really recall your page name or be able to refer to it. That’s where frequency comes in, initially i used to post once in 3 days and that was really slowing down the growth of my page. No sooner did I increase the frequency of posts, the traction began to increase and I found it easier to reach my target audience. One post every 2 days at the very least is a good number. I am currently trying to do a post a day and have been successful for a while. Let’s see how it turns out.
- Research your time to post, as important is content, equally important is the time when you post that content. Initially I used to post whenever I felt like and at time a post would really hit it off and at times it would just languish. After a good amount of research I learn that the reason for this erratic traction was the random times I posted at. Make sure to use the analytics option of Instagram to gauge when your audience is most active and plan your posts accordingly. It would only help to gain traction. There will always be one day in the week when you’d be getting a lot more traction that otherwise. Ensure that you have a post ready for atleast that day.
I do hope that you have enjoyed reading this post as much as I have enjoyed writing it, while I discover something new every time I shoot, it’s that passion and love for toys and all things fantastical, wondrous and geeky that keeps me going. I wish you the very best with your endeavors in toy photography and do feel free to DM me on Instagram @sbphotographs1 or drop me an email on email@example.com.
Toy Photography will become a part of you if you let it and there is nothing wrong with that. After all, who wouldn’t want a legit reason to play with toys and make it seem cool while doing so.