Part two of a special three-part community piece exploring the reasoning behind Toy Photography curated by Adam Burke (@burkeheadtoys) with guest features.
Welcome back readers to the second installment of ‘Why Toy Photography?’ I covered the attraction of the hunt and amassing that collection in part one which you can read here, so here, we’ll focus on the joy found in Creativity. Photography, in general, is a great and expressive hobby, but shooting toys can present its own joys and challenges.
For me, the good times are found in the effort spent materializing something that only exists as an idea in my head. It’s conquering the challenges of “How do I make this Jedi levitate this rock” or that feeling of sweet success when you’ve been trying to pose/balance a figure for 15 minutes and it finally stays! It’s the time you spend focusing your mind on experimenting with the composition of a shot, and tuning out the out the world outside of the one you’re creating, if only for a little while. And there’s the sense of satisfaction you get being able to express to others something that you thought of. Plus, in today’s social media society, we’re all guilty of the enjoyment we get when we see that notification that someone liked/commented/shared your photo.
And of course, these are toys! So there are no rules right (for me anyway)? When there’s no rules, you’re only limited by your own imagination. I enjoy the creativity I’m afforded when taking pictures of toys and I’m constantly thinking of photo mashups/crossovers and toys interacting in the real world. These are a few of my favorite things: Deadpool taking on a Sharknado; The Star Wars Universe’s most notorious bounty hunters finally finding that elusive Waldo; or Lock, Shock and Barrel trick-r-treating at my door.
The creativity aspect is what drew me here and has kept me going in this hobby. I’ve only been in this a little over a year, and I have yet to experience a lull. And the fact that there are so many in this community who have been doing this for years, and still crank out amazing photos, gives me hope that I will be here for a long time.
Let’s hear from some others:
Patrick, one of the team members here at ExcluCollective, is one of the community members who has turned his camera from landscapes to scenescapes. Being a photographer before just focusing on toys, he really wanted to do some shooting one day, but the weather disagreed. So he decided to grab a macro lens and a minifigure.
And with a click, Wonderbunk was born. Now over 1,200 shots later, Patrick has found himself almost exclusively shooting figures instead of landscapes. There’s only so many ways to shoot a flower, but endless pose-abilities for taking a photo of a figure. Which is why his favorite photo is a creative mashup of that popular plumber running off with some turtle pizza!
Matthew has perhaps the most unique reason for starting toy photography. His is a tale of revenge! Being a huge Aquaman fan, he didn’t take to kindly to a friend throwing insults at his favorite hero back in 2005. So he naturally took to social media to enact his plan of vengeance on the Iron Man fanboy. He currently has almost 300 photos of Iron Man falling at the hands of Aquaman.
When Matthew is not fighting the DC/Marvel war, he enjoys taking his toys outside to create shots of figures in the wild. Nature allows us to create such a dynamic range of moods. It can be the joy and triumph of a sunny day or an ominous feel, like when you’re lost and in search of your best friend:
Anthoney began with a cellphone, no experience and a love for Halo. After rewatching the Halo 3 ad “Believe” and having seen the real life figures, he wanted to give it a try. He also read an article about a marine who used Star Wars clone trooper figures to recreate battle scenes, and it inspired him to try the same with his Halo figures.
In the 2 years since posting his first photo, Anthoney has had the opportunity to meet others in the community which he never would have met outside this hobby. And he has practiced hard at his craft and it is reflected in his gallery, which is filled with great images of various figures. And he put all his skills to work for his favorite photo: fighting off frostbite shooting in the snow, using external illumination and getting creative with photoshop. He’s proud that it’s often mistaken for a graphic design photo instead of a toy photo.
Mr. Vader is drawn to toy photography for the creative freedom it allows with characters he collects and loves. There’s the enjoyment of recreating a favorite scene, whether it’s from a movie, video game, comic, or book. He can get lost in the endless little universes he creates; where a ninja turtle sits on the iron throne, samurai storm troopers battle on Hoth, or even Pennywise the dancing clown offering a balloon on the streets of the Magic Kingdom. In toy photography, there’s also the aspect of telling a story with a single shot, like Mr. Vader’s first post. You can just imagine Jack Sparrow saying: “But WHY’S the Black Pearl in a bottle!?”
Toy photography is so much more than a hobby for some. It’s an escape. As he looks through the lens, before snapping that pic, Mr. Vader is staring into a place so much bigger than the world around him. And when he takes that photo, he’s capturing the essence of a universe he has created. If, like us, you’re bold enough to share it, you hope that the world at large sees that piece of you in the story you tell.
I hope you enjoyed a glimpse into this creative world of ours, feel free to join us. And be sure to check back for the conclusion of this three part series as we cover Community. Thanks for reading!
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Last modified: May 11, 2019