Why? It’s a simple question I’ve always answered in the wrong way.
“-Why do you do this, David?
– Mmm… I do this because I had a smartphone and I started taking quick pics of my figures in order to have good references for drawing my comic-books. After a few weeks I realized that I had dozens of pics and they worked pretty well with a little caption. I started publishing them on my personal Facebook account and bla,bla,bla…”
ALARM SOUND *AHOOOO!!! AHOOOOO!!! AHOOOOO!!!
Wrong answer! That is not why I do it, that is how I started doing this, and that was 6 or 7 years ago. At should think that at this part of the adventure I should have an answer for this question, but I’ve never asked myself till this moment. A few weeks ago Shelly (@xxsjc) asked me to write some words for this series “WHY?” I was pleased to collaborate with SIP again and without thinking I said “Yes! you’ll have my post in a week”. I have to admit I’m an idiot, I’m writing these lines and still don’t know ‘Why?’ I shoot pictures of plastic figures. It’s been more than a month since Shelly’s first email and trust me, I think about this article every day and I still don’t know what to write.
Let’s try to put all the things that have passed through my mind all this days.
First, I like articulated toys. I don’t like statues or figurines. I don’t give a shit about collecting and I don’t care about what is cool and what is not. I like articulation in plastic. I love running my fingers over a soft and well designed joint. I have had a romance with posing humanoid figures in their best position since I was a child. As a kid I always thought that the best job ever would be working at a toy store and setting the sceneries for their showcases of G.I.Joes or Star Wars, He-Man or whatever. At my almost 40 years I still always have an action figure somewhere near me and a few times a day I’m posing it. It’s a part of me, I can’t stop doing it.
Second, ever since I was a child, I’ve always closed an eye when looking at my posed figure in an effort to set it in its best position. I have always tried to look at my figures from their best angle. Even going so far as to put it against a light-bulb to get a silhouette or a backlight.
If you put this two things together, It seems that the only piece missing was camera.
While I studied photography, I only shot pics of my figures once; I still don’t know why. Maybe because I’m a lazy guy and didn’t have the patience to develop my own pictures in the school’s lab. I just graduated in 1997 and I promptly forgot about photography until I purchased an iPhone in 2009. Soon after I bought a camera and started @suppaduppa666 and blah, blah, blah…
My first toy photo. Shot in BW film and developed manually in colour paper, back in 1997. Camera was a Pentax Pt30i with a 50 mm F1.7 with macro extension rings
The question is still not fully answered because I know why I’m here, but I don’t know why I do this almost every day. Why I need to go out, take my figs and shoot them? Or why I stay at home on a Friday night until 2.00 AM to get my pic?
There’s a lot of little ingredients that go into my creative soup. One of them is that I have rediscovered the joy of photography through toy photography. I’m not a pure photographer, but I like it. I like using my camera as a part of the creative process, not thinking about the camera as if it’s the whole process. Photoshop is another thing that I’m addicted to. I love passing hours and hours editing my pics…even after using it at my work the whole day!
Social media plays a part too; I love interaction and it gives me new challenges everyday. One day you may not know what to do or you think you’re bored with toy photography (it happens sometimes) and then you see a kid from Indonesia who’s made a magnificent picture of his Star Wars toy and that gives you wings. The toy community has inspired me yet again and I’m off trying to make another picture. The community is always pushing me to want to try new things.
There is another little fact I haven’t mentioned; toy photography is fast. When you have two daughters and your own little business you don’t have much time for yourself, but you can always find 20 minutes for a quick shoot and photoshop edit. And if you have a day where you have one hour, its like a crazy party. One whole hour for a picture!!!
I want to mention one last thing: doing something for a long time is MAGICAL. When you do something for a long time and you’re consistent with your work, good things come. I didn’t know this because I haven’t been consistent with anything until now. I sure this must happen with other things in life, when you do something everyday. In an unpredictable way this hobby has given me wonderful and unexpected surprises. I’ve known very interesting and lovely people, I’ve been able to photograph for (little) toy companies, I’ve had the opportunity to expose my pictures in my own country and also Asia . Recently I was involved in a movie about a guy who runs “Iron Man Runs” and loves Iron Man (the character). You don’t expect anything in return from this hobby apart from your own satisfaction. But when good things come your way, you can’t deny that they make you happy and encourage you to do more and do them better than the last time.
I’m finishing these lines and I still don’t know if I fully understood why I do this. I could say that toy photography circles everything in life that I enjoy and I can’t see the horizon; there’s a new challenge everyday for trying to improve my skills as a picture manufacture. And yes, maybe next week I will think I’m tired of shooting photos of my toys, but in a few days, suddenly, a new excuse will arise and I will take my little camera put again with a few pieces of articulated plastic and start the process again.
Just like that first day.