A New Perspective

“The world sure seems different from down here, doesn’t it, Scott?”

-Hank Pym, Ant-Man (2015)

I tend to spend a great bit of time and energy hunting new sources of inspiration for my photography. I do this by looking at other people’s photos, getting feedback from and interacting with my peers, or participating in challenges.

The easiest way to find inspiration is to simply add a new LEGO set, minifigure, or accessory to my collection. This usually leads to at least one new photo, or I get lucky and it opens up a whole new series for me to dive into.

That’s exactly what happened when I got my hands on Ant-Man.

I liked the Ant-Man film that came out in 2015, but not enough to buy its licensed tie-in LEGO set upon release. It wasn’t until our friends @Krash_Override and @DoctorNvrmore launched the #jANTMANuary contest on Instagram earlier this year that I finally felt compelled to add the bite-sized Avenger to my collection, and boy am I glad that I did!

Since January, Ant-Man has quickly become one of my favorite LEGO minifigures, and has actually opened my mind to a whole new perspective for my photography.

lego-ant-man
Not only is he fun to photograph, but Ant-Man is super helpful in finding change between my couch cushions!

Part of the fun of taking toy photos is that you get to play around with scale. I spend a lot of time looking at the world more closely and imagining how normal, everyday objects might look next to my 4-centimeter subjects.

Ant-Man makes me think outside the box, because his scale is inherently different than his fellow Avengers. Ant-Man is supposed to look small, which means that I’m not necessarily trying to skew the objects around him or play around with forced perspective. Because of who he is as a character, that part’s already done for me!

I’m simply placing him in the real world and seeing what kind of adventures the little guy can go on.

This has been incredibly freeing, and has allowed me to shoot on the fly if need be. Rather than build sets and backgrounds to complete my photographs or scale things down to fit my needs, I can lean on a shrinking superhero instead and utilize the real world around me as-is. Now I’m looking at the world, and at my photography, from a new angle.

lego-ant-man

Has a particular photographic subject allowed you to approach your photography in a new way? Let us know in the comments! 

James

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Recovering From Your “Best” Photo

Earlier this week, Brett discussed what it’s like to chase after your “White Whale” shot, that one perfect photo that’s been floating around in your head for a while and sometimes feels completely unattainable. It’s something I resonated with deeply, as it’s a struggle I face all the time in my own photography. Then it got me thinking…

What happens when you finally take that shot? How do you recover from your “best” photo?

Photography is, of course, subjective, so how you define your “best” shot may vary. For me, my “best” photo is the one I take and think, “Wow! This came out exactly how I wanted it to, and might just be the best picture I’ve ever taken!” Continue reading Recovering From Your “Best” Photo

The Great Indoors

It’s now officially summer (at least for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere), and like Brett and Shelly before me, I’ve been inspired by the change of the season. However, the sunshine has taken me somewhere I wasn’t expecting it to…

Back into my studio.

That’s right. While the rain clouds that cover most of the Pacific Northwest have subsided and the world is in full bloom, I’ve actually opted to stay indoors to take my first summer photos, thanks to a new find on Amazon: fake grass! Continue reading The Great Indoors

Is Toy Photography Going Mainstream?

Call me crazy, but I think our little corner of the internet – the fun corner where all the cool kids hang out with their cameras and their toys – is starting to draw some attention from, dare I say it… the “mainstream.”

Over the last few months, I’ve noticed a lot of toy photography come from sources I wasn’t quite expecting. At the risk of tooting our own horn, I suspect that this awesome community, and most importantly the work of the people in it, have something to do with it!

Continue reading Is Toy Photography Going Mainstream?

Got Dust? Here’s the Secret Weapon…

“You find me at work; excuse the dust on my blouse. I sculpt my marble myself.”

-Camille Claudel

Oh, dust. How I loathe thee.

As I’m sure is the case not only for many toy photographers, but macro photographers as well, dust can be a formidable opponent, and can even ruin otherwise perfect photos. One missed spec on a minifigure’s shoulder runs the risk of distracting the viewer and drawing unwanted attention.

Of course, the level of dust frustration will vary depending on the photographer and on the viewer. For me, it’s often a deal breaker, causing me to either spend an exorbitant amount of time spot-cleaning the dust in Photoshop or Lightroom, or simply scrapping the initial photos and trying the whole setup again. Continue reading Got Dust? Here’s the Secret Weapon…

To Delete, or Not to Delete?

Jennifer’s recent blog post about image recovery shed some new light on a dilemma I’ve been facing since the day I became a photographer. In a bit of a technical snafu, Jennifer nearly lost a bunch of photos she’d taken – which is a pretty big fear of mine. As a result, I find it incredibly difficult to delete photo files – even long after the final shot has been posted! Continue reading To Delete, or Not to Delete?

Come to the Dark Side, we have cookies!

If you’ve ever read the Toy Photographers blog, you know that we’re big fans of Google+.

We leave a little invite to our community at the end of each blog post, and Shelly herself has written several posts about the thriving platform, the big opportunities available there, and how our community was even featured in Mashable earlier this year.

I won’t rehash too much of what Shelly has already said here, but because of the disappointing and frustrating goings on over at Instagram at the moment, I thought I’d take this opportunity to offer my two cents on why Google+ has quickly become my go-to platform for toy photography. Continue reading Come to the Dark Side, we have cookies!

The Art of the Brick

Art nurtures the brain. Whether made from clay, paint, wood, or a modern-day toy.

-Nathan Sawaya

Last week my wife and I got the chance to check out the incredible work of world-famous LEGO sculpture artist Nathan Sawaya. His popular exhibit, The Art of the Brick, is currently on display at OMSI in Portland. I’ve been following Nathan’s work for a while now, and was not going to miss the opportunity to see it in person!

Needless to say, we were absolutely blown away by the exhibit. It’s one thing to see Nathan’s amazing sculptures and recreations on the internet, but seeing them in person, and getting the chance to lean in closely to examine and appreciate the detail and artistry that goes into each one, was a whole other experience. Continue reading The Art of the Brick

My Biggest Fear, Technically

Of all the photo challenges I’ve seen grace the Toy Photographers blog, none have given me as much trouble as the one for March: Fear. Here’s the challenge prompt given by AliceinCleveland over at our Google+ community:

For this month’s challenge, I’m asking if you will photograph your fears about your own toy photography with me. That’s it. Think about your fears about your art, and photograph them…

Continue reading My Biggest Fear, Technically

Cinematic Inspirations

If there’s one thing that means as much to me (if not more to me) than LEGO, it’s movies.

It’s no surprise then that they’re one of my biggest influences as an artist and photographer. One look at my feed is all it takes to realize how much I love Star Wars, Back to the Future, or superhero movies, and as I mentioned in my previous “Why?” post, I have a lot of fun playing around with and creating my own stories within those pre-established universes.

Sometimes, though, I turn to film for en entirely different reason: As a subject for imitation. Continue reading Cinematic Inspirations