Lego isn’t the only plastic toy with a gender problem.
The economic uncertainty of the Great Depression created the need in the model hobbyist arena for less expensive, space saving train layouts. Through this HO scale/H0/1:87 – ‘half O’ scale was born. This scale, in which the people are roughly 2 cm tall, boomed in the 1950s and became the most popular scale for realistic model layouts in the 1960s. It remains the most popular scale today.
This popularity means more houses, scenery, people, etc. etc. But the time period in which its manufacturing exploded, is where most the items available on the market here in 2017 still reside. Continue reading The Gender of Plastic
“Like a pair of binoculars with no right or wrong end, the camera makes exotic things near, intimate; and familiar things small, abstract, strange, much farther away.”
-On Photography by Susan Sontag
Toy photography spans genres. This, I’ve already said. Petite products, abridged architecture, pint-sized portraits, small surrealism…but what about those of us who create on the go?
Avid travelers, occasional tourists, whoever you are, if you’re a toy photographer, when you leave town you probably bring a toy figure or two (or ten).
Historic Artistic Travel
From the very early days of photography, travel photography has been a part of the medium. From the time photography came to be, those who had the capability to travel were, and they were creating momentos of their travels – from Francis Bedford’s pyramids, George Wilson’s Temple of Jupiter, Francis Frith’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre, to the works of Maxime Du Camp, Solomon Nunes Carvalho, James Ricalton all created in the 1840s & 50s. And the history of artistic travel doesn’t stop there painters make images of their world travels as well.
Continue reading Teensy Travel
Kristina’s most recent post made me think about myself and how I respond to strangers asking me about my work. And I respond quite similarly to how she does, although maybe for slightly different reasons.
I too prefer to photograph alone. Sometimes with my boyfriend in tow, but he’s often paying attention to other things. That, and he’s not a photographer or giving unwanted input, so the act of photographing still, in a sense, is solitary.
While I’m mostly a studio toy photographer, I sometimes venture into the great outdoors. When I do so too close to home, my neighbors get curious. “What have you got there?” “What are you doing?” And when I answer, admittedly probably down playing my passion, I get confused nods and oh okays. I very rarely will show a photo straight from my camera – the photo’s only mine until I review it, edit it and deem it time to post it. Continue reading Don’t talk to strangers
“A photograph passes for incontrovertible proof that a given thing happened. The picture may distort; but there is always a presumption that something exists, or did exist, which is like what’s in the picture.”
– On Photography by Susan Sontag
Toy Photography Movement
When photography first came about it was a way to further describe an actual thing. It was meant to be truthful. Overtime of course, photography evolved in many ways, even becoming its own art form as creators found ways to lie through the camera lens.
Toy photography as a part of that movement, is and was a groundbreaking departure from the truth. While we may not be photographing the already existent world around us, we’re storytellers finding our own truths within the posed photograph. And I argue that sometimes we can delve deeper into a truthful topic by creating a whole new world that reflects our thoughts. Continue reading Small Surrealism
“There is no innovation and creativity without failure. Period.”
Our fears of rejection within the realm of photography vary by person – whether with putting an image on a social media platform and not getting any likes, or maybe getting negative comments, to submitting something to a publication or gallery and getting denied. As with any type of rejection or negativity it’s so important to not take these things too personally.
The internet for one is mean. Some people are just looking to get out their own insecurities and maybe you’re the unlucky one they’ve settled on today. Others may very well think they’re giving constructive criticism and therefore helping you – even when it’s uncalled for. Maybe they’re right, maybe they’re wrong, but in the end it’s all subjective. Continue reading Dealing with Fears of Rejection
A Short Introduction
Toy photography, while in itself a form of fabricated or tableau photography, has a way of spanning across all genres of the medium. This is one of the many many things I love about toy photos. Through toys we can tell stories, document places, record our travels, explore tiny details, the list goes on. To highlight the magic of toy photos and all the things they can come to represent I thought I’d create some posts of different photo genres and where toys fit within them.
In a sense I’ve talked about architecture and product photography here before, and I’m here today to make a case for portraits.
Portrait: a pictorial representation of a person usually showing the face
– Merriam-Webster Dictionary
Artistic representations of people began with cave paintings and have been a part of all cultures since. Quite simply they are representations of people. Toy figures themselves are representations of the same, and thus so are our photographs of them.
Learn more about the history of artistic portraits here.
“It’s one thing to make a picture of what a person looks like, it’s another thing to make a portrait of who they are.”
– Paul Caponigro
A human face can tell us a lot about the person, through their expression, wrinkles, sunspots, makeup, etc. A toy face is a bit different. Typically expressionless or bound to one emotion, we have to find ways to tell the figure’s story for them through posing, lighting and other props. While toys come in many varieties, using human like figures in your photos can truly help your audience relate – through these plastic, inanimate objects the viewers can see themselves.
We give toy figures a voice by making portraits of them.
~ Jennifer Nichole Wells
Do you ever take portrait-like images of your toy figures? Tell us about it and leave a link to a photo in a comment below.
Also, if you enjoy this post idea let me know what photo genres you’d most like to see next.
Continue reading Pint-Sized Portraits
Silly question, everytime is a great time to be a toy photographer! But read on, you’ll see what I mean.
The Cut recently released an article titled ‘The Big World of Teeny-Tiny Things’ of which they claim is an ‘everything guide to the miniature market.’ This article also appeared in New York Magazine. That’s a big deal. New York Magazine is reporting on miniatures. I want to say that’s such a strange concept, but I know very little of what New York magazine traditionally publishes. So, instead I’ll say, any publicity for minis I count as a win. Continue reading Could this be the best time to be a toy photographer?
“The world opens up…as a grand and glorious adventure in feeling and in understanding. Nothing human is unimportant to him. Everything he sees is germane to his purpose. Every word that he hears uttered is of potential use to him. Every mood, every passing fancy, every trivial thought can have its meaning and its place in the store of experience he is accumulating.“
-from Studs Lonigan by James T. Farrell as quoted by Brooks Jenson of LensWork (LW1040 Inspiration Comes from Everywhere)
Scratching the Surface
In a way I feel like each of my photos is an exploration of the same concept, emotion, story. And yet, while stylistically they may be similar, each photo varies in subject matter.
In each image I aim to create a quite stillness, a calm in the storm, surrounded by mystery. Why? Well, it certainly has a lot to do with my personal thoughts and experiences. But, the question remains as to whether I will finish scratching that itch; if I will inevitably decide that I’ve fully explored this story photographically. Or, if I will forever continue to grow and explore how to better represent precisely what I mean to. Continue reading Creating Art that’s Intimately Yours
Okay, so we’ve had posts about the magic of 3 and the power of 2, so now I feel I must advocate for 1 (or maybe just ramble about number symbolism).
Sure I’ve used various numbers of toys and figures in my photos, but I have a soft spot for one. That being said, I do tend to create solemn photos and 1 then comes to represent either lonliness, or a solitary journey. This doesn’t mean, in the whole scheme of things that the figure is in life alone, but for this moment, when we see inside their head, they’re on a philosophical path that they must travel alone. Continue reading One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do
**Just a disclaimer, this is not a critique on Kristina’s recent post. I completely understand her point, and relate. If you read between the lines, this post even reiterates a few of her points. This is instead a response to comments I’ve read and heard in the toy photography realm at large.**
Product v. Commercial Photography
‘Product photography’ seems to be a four-letter word in the toy photography community. A fear of a corner you’ll be placed in, an insult… But I don’t think it’s something to even remotely stress over.
Yes, toys are in part products, but the photos we create of them tell stories – they’re not items shot to specific standards against a stark white background.
If you were commissioned by a company to make a toy photo to their specifications, in most cases it would be commercial or adversarial work, but still not quite product photography.
The main difference is a creative photo platform v. a standardized one. Continue reading Product Photography