My name is Jennifer Nichole Wells. I’m 26 and reside in Jacksonville, Florida. By day, I’m an administrative assistant. Nights and weekends I photograph (and obsess over) toys.
Why create? Well that’s easy, sort of… because I have to. I have a drive within me, a hunger, which will not be tamed, except through making things. I believe artistic expression is such an important part of the human experience.
But why toys? That’s a whole other story…
I aim to represent emotions, memories and dreams in my photographs. Abstract ideas, but ones we can all relate to. In this, I think in miniature. While my thoughts on this change over time, currently, I believe this is for two reasons.
One, I like having control over every aspect of the scene in front of my camera lens. In small scale I can source or create every object for my photographic set. Then, use my camera to further blur and distort.
Secondly, I like playing with juxtaposition. Toys are something quite familiar to each of us. In childhood, they bring us joy and reflection and they help us learn and process through imaginative play. As we age, we hold onto our dearest pieces, and some of us continue to collect new pieces. In this, toys become nostalgic, albeit, still quite joyful souvenirs and collectables. So, when photographing these pieces, these joyful, nostalgic, iconographic objects, in emotive reflective scenes, I hope to create imagery that encourages viewers to stop and think and feel right alongside the depicted figure. Somehow, it’s so easy to relate to and personify a toy.
Junior year of high school I illustrated the novel ‘As Lay Dying’ by William Faulkner for an English project. A plastic fish swimming out of a coffin, a burning paper barn, play dough brothers. This is the earliest I can remember using diorama-like scenes for photographs. Then, in my college dark room courses, I used a Lord of the Rings Aragorn action figure in a series about depression, and quarter machine monkeys in examples of depth of field. My turning point, I believe, of which I’ve never looked back, was my response to a digital assignment in a collegiate color photography course. I could only fathom the color symbolism filled WWII narrative I imagined, using small scale scenery. And it was with that, that I ordered my first train miniature pieces.
In this, my photographing of toys exclusively was a process that occurred over a few year span. It seems each time a narrative project was assigned in late high school and early college, I could only consider the project in the terms of photographs of miniature dioramas. I’m sure in some ways this stems from my fascination with miniatures. I personally kept all my smallest toys from childhood. I also grew up doing plenty of craft projects with my mother and sister. Combine these with a love I found, during high school, for how scenes can be transformed with light and a camera, and you have my passion.