My 365-project depends on the light and suddenly it is gone

I’ve done a 365-project before and something seems to happen in mid-October. It’s that  part of the year when the days get shorter and the rain gets more intense. Because I am a photographer who prefer to work with daylight, this time of the year always is unexpected. Until mid-October hits me the light has been my friend.

During work days

During work days, I photograph the kitchen with flash as a light source. During the project mid-October meant mer than the fact that I had to find the flash. I also realized that my ideas and my lack of attributes make the images feel predictable. And a bit boring to do. Many days this project feels like one other thing I have to do.

My doubts are high and I wonder what this 365-project will give me…

My 365-projects

My first 365-project gave me invaluable knowledge about technics.  Doing an image a day made me find my language or at least the beginning of what would become my language as a photographer.

My second taught me to develop my style, my expression and to work with the flash, a controlled light as a tool.

Some insights

This is my third, what have I learned more than October means that the light disappears and with that also the desire and the will to creat. I do not yet see what I have learned, but I have some insights:

The first one is that ”a lego-figure” is a tough toy to vary a story around. I would say that as a toy for a story it requires attributes. Many legophotographers like to use attributes like faces to enhance their story. I use a bit of attribute but my toy box is limited, by choise. I prefer to let the viewer read emotions / mood in the image via the light and the choice of location, time, angle and composition.

In my first 365-project the lego-figure was an attribute, and looking back at that I think the next toy-project will be with another sort of toy – no more – lego for me… When I do a new toy-porject I’ll probably choose use lego-figures be just attributes. I am currently doubting that I am a pure lego photographer.

I also doubt what the value of a 365-project. To take a picture a day is not really a challenge, it’s mostly a matter of planning.

A 365-project makes me attached to my motive

But there is one thing that I have realized. My feeling for the toy that is my motive has changed with all the dirt and the scratches that the project has given it. I didn’t feel anything for my choice of toy when I started, now I look for it and talk about the toy as one of mine. I value it – as my motive. I have grown in to liking the toy, the scratches and the dirt on the toy because they make it mine, and only mine.

Kristina

Teensy Travel

“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.

Perhaps the most iconic toy photography example would be Brian McCarty’s War Toys, a project he began in 2011. In this, he travels to war zones and creates images while there using locally sourced toys to illustrate stories shared with him by local children. I’m simplifying his work overly so, so please learn more here.

Why We Do It

All in all, humans like saving their memories, they like souvenirs, not to mention, we’d have very limited world views if there were no images of other places and cultures.

As toy photographers, the items we photograph are often an extension of ourselves and how we feel about the world. Because of this they become perfect representations of our feelings toward the places we visit.

We can savor our memories, while creating new narratives around them. Explore a new place an inch from ground level.  Tell tales and weave experiences that no other person who has visited that place can.

We give toys memory and a sense of adventure by allowing them to travel the world. 

~Tourmaline .

Do you ever take travel photos of your toys? 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.


Want to get involved and keep up with the blog? Sign up for our weekly email round up and join us on G+!

Ace & The Dame

It was an ordinary Thursday, but she was no ordinary dame…
“Strange… These clues just aren’t adding up…”
She was a mystery… and I was starting to fall for her.
“So… it’s comes to this.”
“Guess this means our Friday night’s canceled, eh, doll?”
She was no ordinary dame… *sigh*

~r.e. wolf


If you’d like to share your own six image narrative on the blog, contact us here.

Numbers Slumber

I love numbers

Did you know 2 and 5 are the only prime numbers that end with a 2 or a 5?

And did you know, 40 when written “forty” is the only number with letters in alphabetical order, while “one” is the only one with letters in reverse order when written in English? And “four” is the only number in the English language that is spelt with the same number of letters as the number itself?

I love maths

111,111,111 × 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321. In fact, multiplying ones will always give you a palindromic result. 11 x 11 = 121

Maths and palindromes? So many dynamos! *read that backwards

I even love math rock bands like Nomeansno and Shellac, and mathcore bands like The Dillinger Escape Plan and The Locust.

Yep, I’m a delight be have a beer with! I’ll bore you with numbers facts whilst The Locust blast their complex, aggressive weirdness from the stereo.

A week of number fun

This past week has been an intriguing one regrading numbers.

On Monday LEGO shared an image of mine on their social media channels, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

The featured posts collected 34k Instagram likes, 1.6k Facebook likes and 512 Twitter likes in the first 24 hours.

And what did all these numbers mean for my numbers?

In the 24 hours following I amassed a total of 78 more Instagram followers. Sure, this number doesn’t take into account the average daily follower losses I’ve experienced since the algorithm screwed things up and I renounced my Instagram allegiance.

This is a picture
Of things going a little out of hand.
This is a sculpture
Of a couple of things we gotta get straight
Shellac – This Is A Picture

I’m not disparaging my appreciation that LEGO chose to share one of my photos. Not at all! I’m incredibly grateful that LEGO wanted to share my junk. I’m not questioning the gesture; it’s the platform on which it occurred I’m questioning.

As someone who loves numbers I was curious to explore these numbers a little more.

I remember when LEGO followed me on Instagram in 2014. I woke that morning and thought something was broken; overnight my follower count had exploded. Yet, now LEGO share a photo of mine and the impact on my account is barely noticeable.

Coincidentally, on the same day last week Google+ promoted my account in their G+ Create community. This feature resulted in 30 new followers.

Let’s look at some numbers. Yay!

An Instagram account with 2.3million followers shares my photo and I end up with a percentage gain of 0.26%.

(30030 – 29952) / 29952 x 100 = 0.26

Google+ feature me in a community of 730 members and the result is a 14.6% gain in followers.

(227 – 198) / 198 x 100 = 14.6

And what percentage of those community’s members or followers chose to pursue the features? Well, 4.11% of the G+ community, compared with 0.003% from Instagram.

(30 / 730) x 100 = 4.11%

(78 / 2300000) x 100 = 0.003%

Yeah, I get that the number changes on these days may have been shaped from outside these two events. And yes, I get that there may have been fluctuations in these numbers that weren’t direct result of the features. I understand that the mathematical outcomes aren’t purely the result of the features I’ve mentioned. And yeah, I get that lower base numbers require lower number additions or subtractions to impact on the results proportionately.

Out with the old.
This is the new.
The minor details have been overlooked.
Plastic people making plastic trees grow out of concrete,
This landscape lacks intellectual quality.
Emergency.
The Locust – Stucco Obelisiks Labelled as Trees

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it

However, I still say that these numbers illustrate how broken Instagram is now. I’d argue that the gap between the numbers from these two platforms wouldn’t have been so great a few years ago. In fact, the Instagram numbers would’ve overshadowed those from G+. But they don’t now!

Numbers: Broken Clown
Broken Clown

When a new following, that’s only discovered by a user checking through a following list or checking through the activity of those they follow, results in a bigger gain than a feature in a feed, something doesn’t compute. Perhaps it’s because that post is now buried below advertising, stories and the algorithm, requiring greater digging to unearth than mining through the activities of a feed you follow?

When a community of 730 is alerted to someone, and it results in 30 new followers, whereas an account with 2.3 million followers results in 78, those maths don’t add up. No matter what type of trickery I try to apply!

I’ve never made a fuss about follower numbers. I truly appreciate those that do follow, but it’s not why I do what I do, or why I started.

This post is neither a gloat nor a grumble; it’s just some curious maths!

– Brett

If you’ve made through all my blathering and ended up here, you should sign up to our weekly email round up where you’ll get a recap of all the babbling from the week.

And while you’re doing things, you should definitely join our G+ Community where we hold monthly contests with prizes and lots of other cool stuff too.

One year, 365 photos: an update

Just over 250 days ago, I wrote on this blog about my 365 toy photography project. At the time, I was on photo #39. As of writing, I just published photo #295!

Over the last 8 months, I’ve taken a lot of photos, many of which are consigned to the recycle bin. I’ve been to Sweden and played with Duplo, I overused breakfast items from the Ninjago minifigure series and I broke out ‘Pop’ figures and Playmobil for a change of pace.

I spoke about accidental themes in my photos last time, and about finding my style. I’ve been doing a little bit of both of those, with a prevalence of a certain winged skelly figure, and a lot of light play over the summer months. A summer style certainly developed, with lots of light, bright photos that really made me smile.

Minifigure photographer at play
A little light play

Too much of a good thing?

However, it’s all become a bit much.

Work has been really tough this year, and the (admittedly self-inflicted) requirement for a daily photo means that they have often been taken and thrown up onto Flickr and Instagram with little thought. I’ve been nowhere near as active on G+ as I wanted, and I’m missing the engagement that I felt during the early part of the year.

The whole experience of a year of toy photography has left me feeling slightly empty and I’ve had some serious ups and downs. I’ve photos I love, and photos I hate, but now I’m struggling to make myself take the photos at all. The joy is beginning to fade. It feels a little too much like work.

Stormtrooper cleaning floors
Working hard or hardly working?

So what now?

I will make it through the year of toy photos (because I’m stubborn like that), but then I need to take a step back from daily photos (I’ll probably be aiming for weekly).

I want to start to think about the photos I take, to work on composition, lighting and meaning. I want to tell stories with my photos. I want to get more involved with the community and ultimately, I want to reconnect with my photography again.

By taking the aim off of daily photography, and allowing myself more time to contemplate what I am doing, I hope to improve and produce more photos that I am happy with, rather than a whole lot of photos I don’t particularly like.

Spooky girl with a magic wand
Make a little magic

Only 70 photos to go.


Have you felt lost when in the midst of a long project? Did you overcome it? How do you keep the fun in your projects? Answers on a postcard please (or you know, in the comments!)

– Lizzi
@stepping_on_bricks

P.S. I’m actually not quite as despondent as I sound! Seasonal toys are starting to bring me a little inspiration and I’m looking forward to breaking the Christmas LEGO out!

Review: LEGO City Jungle Theme

Each year, the LEGO City theme gets some kind of adventurous line to break up the traditional, run-of-the-mill settings. In the past we’ve seen LEGO City citizens go to outer space, explore the arctic, and even face a volcano! This summer, seven sets took a group of adventurers into the LEGO Jungle.

The wide range of small and large sets included things like alligators, helicopters, a plane crash, waterfalls, secret tombs, Venus fly traps and fantastic new panther, tiger and leopard pieces.

While I admitted a few weeks ago that I tend to skip the LEGO City line as a whole, I couldn’t help but be excited about this Jungle sub-theme. I was first drawn to the aforementioned big cat pieces; you can never have too many LEGO animals to photograph! Once I began looking at the sets at large, my curiosity only continued to grow. I knew that I had to take them for a photographic spin and review them here.

I picked up two sets: 60157 Jungle Starter Set and 60159 Jungle Halftrack Mission. Rather than review them both individually, I’ll look at the two together, to see what I think of the Jungle theme as a whole.

Welcome to the (LEGO) Jungle

lego city jungle halftrack

The first and biggest challenge I faced while shooting was one I didn’t expect: the vehicles. As it turns out, I don’t shoot vehicles very often! When I do, I tend to stick to cockpit closeups or using them as scene-setters in the background. I felt a bit awkward staging the “halftrack” truck (above) and the ATV that come in set 60159.

The build on these vehicles is both sturdy and photogenic, I especially like the treads on the halftrack’s back four wheels. I’m also brainstorming ways to highlight the four floodlights on its roof.

Don’t let my apprehension scare you. I suspect that someone with more experience shooting around vehicles will find a lot to enjoy with these kits.

While I missed out on the various airplanes and helicopters in other sets, I did get my hands on two of the aquatic vessels: the red kayak and small boat. My particular kayak is from the 60153 Fun at the Beach people pack, but there’s one just like it included in 60160 Jungle Mobile Lab.

lego city jungle kayak

I may not shoot vehicles very often, but I shoot boats floating on water even less! I knew going in that I’d have difficulty here, but luckily I had Shelly’s tips to guide me. I’m very happy with the two shots I ended up getting. The kayak is extremely photogenic. It took me a bit longer to snap a shot of the small boat that I liked. I found success once I created waves to represent motorized movement.

Get your motor runnin’!

60157 Jungle Starter Kit also comes with an alligator (or maybe it’s a crocodile?) that was a bit easier to shoot around. I only owned one of the classic, all-green gators from older LEGO sets, so this menacing version is a sweet upgrade!

lego city jungle alligator
Crikey!

The Minifigures

I was pleasantly surprised to see the variety of minifigures represented in the Jungle theme. I originally assumed that the same two or three characters would be repeated throughout the seven sets. From what I can tell, there are seven kinds of explorers (three male, four female), each with with beautifully detailed jungle outfits and adorable little machetes. There are also three scientists/photographers (two male, one female), two male mechanics, and a female pilot.

I absolutely love the design on each of the minifigures. In terms of faces and hair, there’s nothing that different or unique about them. I did get a kick out of the scientist’s panicked face though, which you’ll see later in this article. The real stars of the show here are the torsos. The LEGO Group nailed he designs, and the detail is astounding.

Each of the machete-wielding explorers looks pretty similar, with small variations on the torso and different hair or face pieces. The scientists have lab coats to immediately differentiate them from the rest of the crew. The mechanics have stained white tank tops with overalls, and the pilots have cool flight suits. I don’t have any of the pilot or mechanic figures yet, but hope to pick them up and photograph them soon.

The minifigs alone are worth purchasing these Jungle kits for, and have convinced me that I need to pay closer attention to the LEGO City line. You simply won’t find these designs anywhere else, and I had a lot of fun shooting them.

The more I shot, the more the ideas came to me. For my test photos I travelled to a beautiful nature park nearby my apartment, and had been shooting non-stop for two hours by the time I looked at my watch. I’m anxious to go back and capture all the ideas I wasn’t able to, and re-take the duds.

While shooting on the water or in the grass was nice, I will admit that I had the best time placing my little explorers in… dangerous and precarious situations. Namely, the male scientist with his big blue glasses and shocked face. He’s clearly out of his element, which was too good to pass up!

lego cit jungle scientist spiders
Spiders?! Why did it have to be spiders…
lego city jungle scientist snakes
“Oh no! I knew I shouldn’t have strayed so far from the group!”

The Tomb

There are several tombs and treasure hideouts sprinkled across the Jungle theme. 60159 Jungle Halftrack Mission had one, though I found a bit of trouble photographing it well. You’ve already seen a glimpse of it in one of the photos above, here’s another in which I tried to capture its hidden and mysterious nature:

Despite having some trouble with it, I really like the tomb piece. It has a great Indiana Jones feel to it, and is rigged to drop a scary red spider on anyone who attempts to steal the jewel within.

The Panther

As I said before, the black panther is what initially drew me to the Jungle theme, and the beautiful big cat did not disappoint once it was in front of my lens.

I unfortunately don’t yet have my hands on the leopard or tiger, but spent a great bit of time with the panther. Its piercing green eyes are unbelievably enticing, and I was surprised to find that it can stand on its hind legs. Place it just right, and this jungle cat can be quite intimidating.

lego city jungle scientist panther
Again, sorry Mr. Scientist!

The head piece swivels up and down, giving the panther either a curious and attentive stare, or a far sneakier pre-pouncing stance.

lego city jungle panther
The Jungle theme is versatile enough for indoor, studio photography as well! 

The Verdict

I can’t recommend the LEGO City Jungle theme to photographers highly enough. The wide range of available kits offers a nice variety of minifigures, creatures, and scenarios to photograph. With just two of the smaller kits, I was able to shoot for hours.

Awkwardness in shooting vehicles aside, my test shots were a big success. I hope to add some of the other Jungle kits to my collection, especially for the chance to photograph the other tombs, Venus fly traps, and two big cats.

If you’re bored by the other LEGO City offerings, looking for something more affordable than modular buildings, or seeking an original line instead of the plethora of licensed kits, I encourage you to take a trip to the LEGO Jungle. Countless adventures await, and I for one can’t wait to venture back out into the wild and capture more of them myself.

What about you, have you had a chance to shoot the LEGO Jungle theme yet? What sets did you pick up, and what did you think of them? Share your stories in the comments below! 

-James

If you enjoy posts like this, we invite you to join our G+ community.

For more reviews and articles, don’t forget to subscribe to the blog to get notified when we have a new post ready for you.

Happy #Googleween!

To celebrate the impending Halloween holiday, the fine folks at Google+ announced a fun opportunity yesterday that I encourage everyone in our community to take part in: #Googleween!

Here’s what they said about the special hashtag:

Do you have Halloween plans this year? People around the world celebrate this spirited day in their own ways, and we are excited to see what you are going to do.

For those of you making costumes or decorating your houses, share your tips and progress on Google+. If you prefer to spend this day watching horror movies with friends, tell us about your favorites!

Whether your Halloween plans include haunted houses, trick-or-treating, or your children’s school costume parade, share your day on Google+!

Spread the spookiness all through Google+ using the #Googleween hashtag on your posts!

Brewing up some fun Halloween photo ideas!

Normally I wouldn’t devote a blog post to a hashtag event, but as pointed out by our very own Tony Tulloch, creative posts are often re-shared and highlighted on Google+. So, this could be a great opportunity to not only share your Halloween-themed shots, but get the chance to receive a bit of extra exposure while you’re at it.

But wait, there’s more!

Speaking of Google+, I’d be remiss if I didn’t remind you about this month’s photo challenge on our Google+ community! There are three days left to take photos of $1 toys. The winning entry will not only be featured on our community banner, but receive a cool prize as well.

For the price of one Halloween candy bar, you can snap a great holiday-themed pic and kill two birds with one stone!

Happy shooting, and happy Halloween!

-James

If you enjoy posts like this (and fun contests!), we invite you to join our G+ community.

Don’t forget to subscribe to the blog to get notified when we have a new post ready for you.

Toy Photography Yoga

Toy photography yoga is a little know branch of the more common discipline of yoga. Toy photography yoga, like the other varieties of yoga, Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism, helps to promote physical and emotional well being.

 yoga

noun | yo·ga |\ ˈyō-gə \

1

capitalized :a Hindu theistic philosophy teaching the suppression of all activity of body, mind, and will in order that the self may realize its distinction from them and attain liberation

2

:a system of physical postures, breathing techniques, and sometimes meditation derived from Yoga but often practiced independently especially in Western cultures to promote physical and emotional well-being

We’ve talked about putting the fun back into toy photography, but did you know there’s also a health component to the practice of toy photography yoga? By practicing toy photography yoga on a regular basis you will exercise your body, practice breath control and achieve a sense of well being not found in traditional forms of yoga or photography.

To help you get your own toy photography yoga practice started, I’ve assembled a selection of basic positions. Please don’t feel intimidated by the following images; these are toy photography professionals and well versed in the art of toy photography yoga. With a little practice I’m sure you too will be able to achieve these feats of contortion.

First rule of toy photography yoga: it’s more fun when practiced with friends!

Cindy Doktor with Chris Policheri at the Seattle Toy Photographers meet-up, 2016.
Seated Forward Bend

The Seated Forward Bend is a great position for the toy photographer who uses a mobile device for capturing images. With the legs in an outward position the photographer maintains a stable position while keeping the hands free. With the torso in an near upright position you’re able to maintain steady and controlled breathing. Th Seated Forward Bend is a great starting position for the beginning outdoor toy photographer. Even in a crowded situations, like this beach scene, you will be able to set up your photo without drawing attention to yourself. Thus avoiding unwanted conversations with strangers.

Leila Chieko practicing her craft in Hawaii.
Way to go Leila! You really captured a nice image using the Seated Forward Bend!
 Cobra Pose

The Cobra Pose is a popular yoga pose amongst toy photographers. This requires the toy photographer to lay flat on the ground. This is a great position when you’re practicing on asphalt or concrete, but less comfortable in damp or uneven terrain. Notice the arms tight against the body for support and legs flared out for added stability. This is great position when you’re worried about precise focus and camera shake. With the upward bend of the back you’re able to stretch your abdomen and maintain maximum breath control. Maintaining a steady breathing pattern helps to reach a relaxed, zen like state; perfect when you want your photo to find you. While the Cobra Pose is a relatively comfortable position to maintain, its not an ideal position in crowed areas. The beginning outdoor toy photographer may feel self conscious in such a conspicuous position.

Cindy Doktor at work near her home in Portland.
Reverse Corpse Pose

The Reverse Corpse Pose is perfect for the advanced toy photographer. As you can see this is a relatively easy pose to achieve once you decide you’re going to sacrifice all dignity and your clothes for the perfect photo. Simply lie on the ground, with your camera and face as near as possible, and start taking photos. The biggest drawback to this position is its lack of mobility. Make sure you’ve made all the necessary tweaks to your set up, because once you achieve the perfect pose, getting up can be difficult and awkward.

Papajov demonstrates the ideal reverse corpse position while being completely ignored by Dinoczars and Bricksailboat. The only thing missing from this photo is the crime scene tape!
Another excellent capture by Papjov! There is simply no substitute for getting down low for the dedicated outdoor toy photographer.
Extended Sphinx

Much like the Reverse Corpse the Extended Sphinx is best practiced flat on the ground. The main difference between these two poses is the extended arms. By extending the camera full out in front of your body you can maximize the view on your camera’s screen. This is also a great position for the mobile phone photographer. By placing the camera directly on the ground, you can maintain maximum stability without using a tri-pod.

Dennis Taylor shows off his perfect Extended Sphinx pose while on a toy photo safari in Las Vegas, 2015.
And look at the fabulous photo he was able to capture!
Extended Sphinx – winter version – demonstrated by Maëlick Claes.

The full prone poses are great for getting the perfect photo. There is no substitute to getting low to the ground and capturing the world from your toys point of view. You can maintain stability by using your body as a tripod, exercise little used muscles and maintain a zen like calm with by breathing slowly and steadily. If you are going to practice any of these full contact positions, I would suggest you wear the appropriate clothing.

Who wears a suit coat to a toy photography meet-up? Captured in Hamburg, Germany 2016 by Maëlick Claes.
Chair Pose

The Chair Pose is a classic position for the toy photographer. This position is easy to get into, relatively comfortable and most importantly, easy to get out of quickly. The Chair Pose, while a popular choice, requires you to place your toys on an elevated platform. Again, notice the legs are set apart to maintain stability. This is a great pose to exercise your gluteal muscles and practice that controlled breathing that is crucial to excellent toy photography results!

Julien Ballister demonstrates a perfect Chair Pose.
Holding that delicate pose helped Julien maximize the pretty bokeh in the background.
Partial Lunge PosE

The Partial Lunge Pose is a great pose to use when you need to get in and out quickly. With one knee on the ground and elbows stabilized on the raised knee, you maximize stability. These lightning fast situations need the extra stability to maintain focus. There is nothing more frustrating than having a quick photo and later looking at the results and finding you missed your focus!

Julien demonstrates perfect Partial Lunge while capturing this photo while his friend was double parked. Way to utilize toy photography yoga Julien!
The final awesome capture!
Partial Lunge with a side Twist

The Partial Lunge with a Side Twist is a toy photography yoga position that can be useful in most outdoor situations. With only one knee on the ground you minimize your exposure to dirt, mud and water while maintaining a stable pose. By adding in a side twist you can contorted your body into the perfect position to capture either a horizontal or vertical image. The Partial Lunge with a Side Twist is considered an advanced pose. Please do not try this position until you’re comfortable with the basics of toy photography yoga.

Leila Chieko demonstrates the useful nature of the Partial Lunge with a Side Twist at the edge of this river.
What a great image she was able to capture! Check out that sparkly bokeh! This image was well worth that extra effort.
Cat Pose

The Cat Pose is another classic toy photography yoga pose. Unlike the Partial Lunge, the Cat Pose requires you to have both knees and elbows firmly planted on the ground. While this might seem like an easy and stable position, most toy photography practitioners can only stand a limited amount of time kneeling on hard and rough surfaces. If you enjoy the Cat Pose, you may want to invest in a set of knee pads or a gardening pad to save your knees and clothes. The Cat Pose is suitable for both DSLR and mobile photographers.

Cindy Doktor demonstrates the Cat Pose, which is ideal for both mobile or DSLR cameras with a tilt screen. Do not attempt this position on a lava field without knee protection like Cindy here. Ouch!!
Child’s Pose

The Child’s Pose is a versatile position that can be practiced with one elbow or shoulder on the ground. Like the previously mentioned Cat Pose, you will want to have knee protection handy for this toy photography yoga pose. The Child’s Pose is relatively easy to get into and out of quickly. One advantage of this pose is that you free up one hand to hold a bounce card, tweak your figures or create practical effects.

The Child’s Pose is my favorite toy photography yoga position. I was caught in the act by Luigi Priori while visiting Denmark this fall.
Getting down low is the secret to beautiful reflections on water.
Child’s Pose – twist Variation

The Child’s Pose is a classic toy photography yoga pose. It can be used in its most basic form, or you can add a simple twist for those hard to capture images. By adding the twist you can get your entire arm on the ground for greater stability. The more stable you can make your body, the more reliable your focus will be. I consider the Childs Pose with a Twist Variation to be an advanced move. Not only is this position hard on your body, it can be difficult to maintain slow, steady breathing.

Cindy Doktor demonstrates a classic Child’s Pose with one arm down. Perfect for situations when you don’t want to go home muddy!
Child’s Pose Rear View

Child’s Pose is great all around pose. Of course it does have its draw backs, the rear view is less than flattering. But what is a little public humiliation when you have a photograph to capture!

Maëlick Claes demonstrates the biggest drawback of the child’s pose. Look at that view though!!

Child’s Pose is the most versatile toy photography yoga pose. It will work great when your toys are on the ground or on an elevated surface.

Side Angle Pose

The Side Angle Pose is an advanced position suitable for the toy photographer comfortable in any situation . Nothing says “I could care less what you think of me” than lying down in a public space, arms outstretched, taking a photo of toys. Not only is this a power  position, you will achieve a much needed stretch after the contortions  of the child’s pose.

David Towery’s position says it all in this behind the scenes capture at the Seattle Toy Photo Safari, 2016.

Remember toy photography yoga is more fun with friends! You don’t have to practice similar poses; different situations will call for different solutions.

Here you can see Wiiman practicing the Forward Leaning Easy Pose and I’m in the classic Fetal Position.
Extended Puppy Pose

Like the Side Angle Pose, the Extended Puppy Pose is not for the faint of heart. This advanced position is not particularly difficult but you will risk ridicule from both friends and strangers alike. While you might look ridiculous, the tripod nature of the position allows for great stability when attempting to capture a difficult photo.

I believe Maëlick Claes is the only know practitioner of this unique pose. Here he demonstrates his masterful technique at the San Francisco toy safari, 2017.
The All In Pose

Like the Extended Puppy Pose, the All In Pose is a unusual position suitable for unique situations. You never know when you will need to climb into a cave, under a stump or down a hole. Going the extra mile can lead to extraordinary imagery or it will give your friends a good chuckle. Either way, a win in my book!

Ana Solis demonstrates the All In Pose. This is the pose you use when all else fails! I love the dedication shown in this pose!
CONCLUSION

Toy photography yoga is great way to stay in shape, increase flexibility and help you capture the best toy photography you can. You will meld mind and spirit in your quest for the next great image. I hope you enjoyed this introduction to this fun and growing movement.

What’s your favorite position?

Shelly

A special thank you to Dennis, Maëlick, Julien, Josh, Luigi and Leila for providing this wonderful images showcasing the variety of positions toy photography yoga experts can get themselves into. 

I don’t think Ant Man knows what to think of all this toy photography yoga. I hope you will join us for #JantManuary; its never too early to start thinking about your photos featuring AntMan doing ordinary activities. (Photo credit Dennis Taylor)

If you’re attracted to silly articles about toy related photography, then you should sign up for our weekly email round up where you’ll get a recap of the weeks goofiness. 

Don’t talk to strangers

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.

The Approach

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.

Socially – Not Having It

It’s not that my neighbors or miscellaneous strangers mean anything, they just don’t quite get why I’m doing what I’m doing. I’m fairly sure if I spent more time talking with them, while there’s no guarantee they’d find it worthwhile, they’d at least come to some sort of a mild understanding. That though is asking a lot of me as I’m severely introverted and a bit socially anxious. Aren’t I painting a great picture of toy photographers? But in reality, I’m great at small talk, I’m just not great at talking about me, unless I’ve known you for a while (or I’m posting on the internet). So strangers asking me personal questions gets me tense.

All that, and while I’m actually very proud of my images and how I’m progressing in my craft I haven’t always had the most supportive circle. Some people close to me brush off what I do as a self-therapy. And yes, art and the act of creating can be very therapeutic. For me however it’s worlds more than that, so it’s difficult to have this act I pour myself into be diminished.

Because of this, with those I don’t know, I just assume they won’t try to understand or see the merit in what I do – especially when I don’t have a final photograph to show them. While I’ll go on and on about my passion to those who seem genuinely interested, if an immediate positive interest isn’t shown from a person I come across while I’m photographing, I just don’t try.

In Conclusion

Good, bad, somewhere in between? While sure I should spread my joy in toy photography far and wide, sometimes it probably keeps me more sane not to. And with any situation, I think its okay to pick and choose what we share about ourselves.

And as long as any uncomfortable feelings that creep in when it comes to talking about what you do don’t keep you from actually doing what you do, than so be it.  Mitchel Wu is probably right in the comment he shared on Kristina’s post “the more you do it the easier it gets.”

So in that, the title of this post is a lie. Be like Shelly, do talk to strangers. For Kristina‘s and my sake, talk to all of them and tell them all about toy photography so that we don’t have to.

~Tourmaline .

How do you respond when someone approaches you while you’re photographing?


Want to get involved and keep up with the blog? Sign up for our weekly email round up and join us on G+!