On Times of Creative Discouragement

“Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.”

-Salvador Dali

The reason I am so adamant about measuring success only by your own standards, is that it can be so so easy to give up in this intense creative world. Sure, everyone’s standards of success differ – some may consider success simply having fun, others affluently selling their work, and really everything in between. But no matter your measure, if you let fear and the opinions of others seep into your photographic work, you’ll no longer be creating genuine and fulfilling work.

Continue reading On Times of Creative Discouragement

Leaving A Photo Be

“A great photograph [is] a full expression of what one feels about what is being photographed in the deepest sense and is, thereby, a true expression of what one feels about what life in its entirety.”

– Ansel Adams

As with any creative practice, photography is so personal that we constantly feel the need to defend it to others and to explain our work. But there is a power that comes in leaving a photo be and allowing the viewer to interpret as they will. Continue reading Leaving A Photo Be

A Foggy Path

It all started with the word ‘humid.’

In Florida it’s always humid. Go outside with your camera and the lens immediately fogs up. If you want a non-fog filled image quickly you have to wipe the condensation from your lens and hope for the best. Otherwise you wait up to 30 minutes or more until your camera acclimates to the sticky weather.

A couple years ago, I decided I wanted to replicate a fogged camera lens effect indoors. My mom suggested placing something in front of the lens. So really I owe the whole development of this process to her. I had some textured transparency film left over from a college printmaking class and there it was. Continue reading A Foggy Path

A Reflection

I shot my first toy photos 9 years ago.

I was 17, in Ms. Jen’s 11th grade English class, and chose to illustrate scenes of William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying from a list of project options.

I really knew nothing about photography, but was slowly discovering that I liked it.

I outlined a few key scenes from the book and set out to photograph them. To my knowledge, I had never knowingly seen a toy photograph, nor did I think of what I was doing in any sort of category. All I knew was that it seemed the best way to represent a burning barn, brothers, horse drawn carriage, fish mother and vultures was through toys and maquettes.

The resulting photos weren’t what I’d now call good, but at the time I was quite happy with what I’d managed to create with minimal supplies and a point and shoot camera.

So now, 9 years later, some 6 or so years since I’ve actually considered myself a toy photographer, I’ve recreated those images with better technical knowledge and artistic vision. Continue reading A Reflection

My One Photo that Changed it All

This is the story of the toy photo that set me on my path. From this photo, I never looked back. This, is my one photo that changed it all.

My first post on Toy Photographers was my Why statement. Why I do what I do – photograph, of all things, toys. And in that I touched on my college WWII project.

The longer it’s been since I made that project, the more I realize how defining it has been to my future photos. Continue reading My One Photo that Changed it All

Where Do Toy Photos Belong?

“Never have I found the limits of the photographic potential. Every horizon, upon being reached, reveals another beckoning in the distance. Always, I am on the threshold.”

-W. Eugene Smith


As we struggle with Instagram’s constantly changing algorithm many toy photographers are trying to figure out where in this social media world they belong. Of course I’m going to vote for Google + and the Toy Photographer’s Community, but really our images can fit anywhere that any other photo can. Continue reading Where Do Toy Photos Belong?

Learning Lego

The Beginning

Quite a few months ago a friend asked if I’d ever shoot Lego. I said ‘probably not’ and went on to explain that something so recognizable in an image makes it all about that item, whether for or against, you can’t have just a message all on its own.

Rethinking

I was being a bit narrow minded. Continue reading Learning Lego

Image Recovery & Shooting Outside your Comfort Zone

I’m pretty strictly a studio photographer. I like having full control of the entire set and lighting. But there were a few pictures on my ‘to do ‘ list that just seemed to be begging to be shot outdoors.

My sister came into town to visit and needed some beach shots for her blog. That was the final ingredient I needed for an inevitable outdoor shoot. So, armed with her shoes, and my toys, off to the beach we went.

Honestly, it wasn’t the best beach day. A bit too windy and chilly. But we stayed for just over an hour. I photographed seagulls and I photographed toys and I figured all the photos would be crap, because I was out of my comfort zone. Continue reading Image Recovery & Shooting Outside your Comfort Zone

Saving Ideas

Google image search ‘idea journaling’ and you get beautiful pages full of neat handwriting, perfect sketches, scrapbook paper and washi tape.

I keep an idea journal. Mine is not beautiful.

My journal (or should I say journals, because I constantly start new ones before old ones are full) is messy – scrawled script, scribbled pictures – complete nonsense to the onlooker. However, this process is a way for me to save things that I may not remember later, to brainstorm vague ideas for images and make those ideas fuller, to feel like I’m creating even when I don’t have a camera in my hand. Continue reading Saving Ideas

My 5 Favorite Figures by Jennifer Nichole Wells

This is a much more difficult prompt than it should be. My toy muses change as time goes on. However, I think I’ve narrowed my favorite figures down to those that have stayed most permanently in the back of my mind.

Preiser Girl

This figure is just over 1 cm tall and I actually seemed to have misplaced her. But once she shows up I know she’ll inevitably find her way in front of my camera lens again. I like using this figure as a symbol of innocence and exploration. Continue reading My 5 Favorite Figures by Jennifer Nichole Wells