We go out on an Endor themed shoot with photographer @tk5421 as he takes us behind the scenes to glimpse an insight into his creative process and his passion for the Black Series figure line as is so clearly shown in the final series of shots.
On shoot with @tk5421
When I saw that the weekly theme coming up was Black Series, I jumped right on it. I’m pretty new to this hobby of toy photography, but I’ve got quite the Black Series collection going. Though many collectors argue that the Black Series 6 inch line isn’t so great, I believe it just takes a certain perspective. The Black Series 6 inch figures are not only fun to collect, they are great for toy photography. Hasbro has done an amazing job with most of these figures and they keep getting better and better! I’ve been fortunate enough to have this great opportunity to take all these wonderful toys and give them personality. Every time I hear the words “Black Series,” it makes me think about my love for Star Wars and how I can translate that passion into something visually pleasing.
I like to take most of my shots outside. Luckily, I live in an area in the Pacific Northwest that has some fairly diverse environments that allow for a wide range of themes and ideas for shots. The theme I was aiming for on this most recent shoot was sort of an Endor thing. The places within reasonable driving distance of my home are mostly wooded areas. This provides a wonderful setting for anything that is supposed to give off that Return of the Jedi feel.
My first few shots were of the Black Series 6 inch Scout Trooper with his speeder. It is a vehicle set made by Hasbro in the 2014 series of figures. I also used the recently released Walmart exclusive Black Series 3.75 inch AT-ST walker.
After that I moved to a different location in the surrounding woods. I spend a good chunk of time before each individual shoot looking for good spots to set up. Once I found another good location, I set up a squad of Stormtroopers with the AT-ST looming in the background. The troopers included a 2015 Black Series Sandtrooper Sergeant, without his gear on, from the Entertainment Earth exclusive 4-pack (middle left); a 2014 Black Series Sandtrooper also without his gear (far right); and the 2014 Black Series Han and Luke in Stormtrooper disguise (far left & middle right). After those shots, I found a spot only a few feet away with a small puddle. It was perfect for a gritty Endor patrol vibe. I used the same four troopers in that shot.
This shoot was one of my most adventurous yet. After the first few shots, I slipped, fell, and cut my hand on a rock. However, I was determined to continue the shoot. I wrapped my hand and finger with a tissue and a wristband (which can be seen in the pic of me taking a shot). I continued on shooting and got some of my personal favorite shots thus far. It was a challenge posing these figures one handed. The longest part of a shoot, for me, is posing the figures and getting them to stay.
I’ve learned the first step in creating a “good shot” is to spend time posing each figure very carefully. It’s surprising how such subtle differences, such as the slight tilt of a Stormtrooper’s head, can bring in a whole new meaning to a shot. When I go out to shoot, it’s not about the “perfect shot,” it’s about what has the most feeling to it. Though, I don’t create complete stories with my photos, I try to create different feelings and tones throughout my shots. Some are dark and evil, some contain deeper meaning, and some are simply just my take on scenes from the Star Wars films or TV. This series of shots was an attempt to create a feeling of mysteriously patrolling through the unknown trees of the dimly-lit forest. I tried to give them a soft sense of a gritty and militaristic feel. In a few of these shots this can be seen with the AT-ST ominously towering over the Stormtroopers in the background. I tried to give the other shot a gritty feel of marching through the muddy woods.
My editing process is usually quite simple and pretty basic. All of my shots are taken with my iPhone 5’s camera. I always go through every single shot taken to find the few “good ones.” I edit the lighting and sometimes color with an app called Polarr. I use mostly practical effects. I only photoshop in lightsaber blades and occasionally sparks and blaster fire. I don’t use a real good camera or practical effects like fireworks in my shots because I’m on a tight budget. I’m a student and I spend my money on the figures and with that there’s little room for buying anything else. I guess if there is anyone out there that is afraid to get out and try this because they feel they lack the “proper equipment,” I’d like to tell them that you can do amazing things even with basic phone cameras and photo editing apps. I’ve gotten a lot of inspiration from the bigger toy photography pages as well as smaller ones similar to my own. This community is truly wonderful and I’m glad I get to be a part of it with all of you.
To me “Black Series” is a sort of escape and reminder of one of my greatest passions. I really loved working on these shots and this article. I hope you all enjoy these shots as much as I enjoyed taking them! If you enjoy this content my instagram account has plenty more @tk5421.
Another great insight into the creative process of one of our communities photographers so a huge thank you to @tk5421 for taking the time to compile the content and take us behind the scenes on his latest shoot. Be sure to head over to his Instagram page listed above for more Black Series content.