Art of the Blur

Even before Shelly asked me to provide my own two pennies worth (I am British after all, cents just wouldn’t do) I had read many of the previous ‘why’ articles and considered what answer I would give. And now to have been so kindly asked, I wanted to provide something new rather than covering similar ground to the past entries of others. You see I’ve always had a problematic need to seek my own uniqueness. 

From my point of view, I’d assume as photographers we all reasonably know or can at least to relate to the reasons why each of us does what we do. We’ve come together from all over the world after all, through the Internet because we’re likeminded people. And for me this means it seems a little too obvious for me to tell you all how I’ve lived with Lego all throughout my life, or profess my undying love for Star Wars and how I’m influenced by movies and the great Hollywood machine. I’d hope (rebellions are built on that by the way) that my photography would showcase these things without a need for any explanation.

Therefore I needed to find a new angle, and I’ll be honest, after days of writing and rewriting opening paragraphs with absolutely nothing to say that didn’t feel like it had already been said, I was lost. So I went back to Shelly’s original message perplexed and looking for any loose thread that I could follow out of the mess I’d put myself in. And there it was, the solution, staring me in the face, “Tom, I’m really enjoying your blur images.”. Inspiration! And as usual it had been there right from the beginning, but as is common for me I just missed it the first several dozen times around. D’oh.

So the question becomes not why do you take photographs of toys, but why do you take incoherent blurry photographs of toys?

Having had an on and off relationship with Lego photography since my university days in the early 2000s (I really should have stuck at this a lot sooner), I’d never really thought of using other toys, then came Star Wars: The Force Awakens (I love that film so much) and a Christmas gift of some Star Wars Micro Machines. These have since turned into Hasbro Black Series die-casts and now into Bandai models as well as a variety of action figures and other die-casts, and now I have a host of spaceships, superheroes and international rescue vehicles to play with.

Nothing to report Black Leader

My early photographs with these toys combined the macro photography skills I had been honing with Lego and shall we say, a smidge of Photoshop work to combine with various backgrounds. I found used images online or trawled through old holiday snaps (skiing trips became invaluable for this) to create digital worlds for my ships to fly through, and tried to create shots akin to the likes of Johnny Wu, Matt Rohde or Vesa Lehtimäki (I set the bar high and went after the greats).

Quite quickly and rather unsurprisingly I realised that I was coming up somewhat short when compared to the work of others and concluded that a lack of realism was the key problem. It felt too obvious that these were toys bobbing about on wires in front of mini backdrops. As mentioned I have tried larger more detailed models (this process is on going as the models get bigger and bigger). And although it helped it didn’t solve my problems.

The Force Awakens has rekindled an old obsession with Star Wars for me, some things come and go during our live but they never leave us. Which prompted to me that due to current technology spaceships in films could now swoop, twist and take us on rollercoaster rides when compared to those from the older movies. Now, here comes the first eureka moment; if these things were real then they would be moving, and at very high speeds. I watched it over and over (which was a terrible, terrible shame) trying to understand why I was lacking this sense of motion in my photographic efforts that were so much easier to showcase on film. In an effort to understand this I turned to sports photographers, particularly motorsport, hoping to find a way to capture a sense of movement and purpose in a still image. But that is just what I found, still images. Many photos were clean and crisp and caught perfect moments with super high shutter speeds, but they still felt static and lifeless, almost a documentation of what was physically there rather than what was happening and an exact opposite of what I was searching for.

Then I discovered the work of Darren Heath (for those of you that don’t know he’s a Formula 1 photographer) and it tied in perfectly with what I wanted to do. Here was someone who embraced the sense of motion by allowing blur to occur and in turn embracing the abstract. It all felt very experimental and crazy to me that he’s allowed just play with his camera in the most “glamorous” and “prestigious” of settings. I mean, when you see his work they don’t necessarily look like racing cars, but you know these things are going very fast, just like you’ve paused live TV.

Kimi Raikkonen by Darren Heath Australia 2014 –

And there it was, the second eureka moment. I wasn’t going to create dioramas with spaceships in. I was going to pause movies, to embrace the abstract and try to give a true feeling of movement (I feel the need… The need, for speed. AHA). So that’s exactly what I did; I went back and paused the Millennium Falcon and Tie Fighters and X-Wings in flight and took still upon still, each more abstract than the last. I now had my endgame, to try and toe the line between the abstraction of speed and the visual identities of my subject matter. Now it was just a case of figuring out how to achieve it…

But, that wasn’t the question, was it? This after all is a series about the whys, and not the hows.

Tom Milton

Training wheels protocol… deactivated
This is Red 5, I’m going in

Why? by The APhOL

I have to confess that writing this article about “why?” I like to photograph toys was challenging.

I’ve never thought about why I photograph toys, before. I was only following the butterflies in my stomach. But having to write the reason in “black on white”, I would answer that I’m a toy photographer, especially LEGO, because it’s incredibly fun. Continue reading Why? by The APhOL

Why? The 3 Things I love Most About Lego Photography

Hello Toy Photographers! My name is Kenton Anderson.

Me in lego form.

Since this is my first post on Toy Photographers let me introduce myself. I am a Full-Time Creative Director/Part-Time Photographer living in Salt Lake City, UT. I have been a photographer for about 10 years now and up until recently have mostly done weddings and family photography. Only recently have I discovered Lego Photography and have quickly become obsessed. Continue reading Why? The 3 Things I love Most About Lego Photography

Why by DoctorNvmore


Why ask Why? Ok, ok, focus…

Why do I do toy photography…….. I do it as a release of creative juices, a release of anguish, and a release for my own personal pleasure. Hmmm… maybe I should reword that…. nah.

My life is not everything I wanted it to be. My early life was wrought with some disturbing events that still haunt me and my current life is a grind to say the least. I’m not meaning to complain, many people have it far, far, far worse. I’ve often felt that all my opportunities have passed me by; traded in for security and a steady income to support my family. There are worse things in life, I know. I work lots of hours and make decent money, which tends to happen if you work lots of hours at one place… So it is what it is and while my focus is mostly on providing for my family, I need something for me. Continue reading Why by DoctorNvmore

Why LEGO Photography?

The first LEGO I remember playing with was a dusty shoebox full of hand-me-down bricks that were colored either white or red. There was nothing as fancy as a hinge or even a plate in the mix. It was just classic 2 x 2 and 2 x 4 bricks, along with a few scattered 2 x 10 pieces that seemed massive by comparison. These LEGO bricks really were just bricks in the most humble sense of the word. I stirred the white and red pieces with my hand, creating the churning storm-like sound of plastic against plastic for the first time. Continue reading Why LEGO Photography?

10 Reasons Why Toys are Fascinating

I’ve been studying various sources to get snippets about why toys are so fascinating to toy photographers and the general public alike. So far I’ve absorbed On Longing by Susan Stewart, The Poetics of Space by Gaston Bechelard, the documentary Marwencol, and various videos, articles and artist statements by and about miniaturists and toy photographers. Continue reading 10 Reasons Why Toys are Fascinating

I’m a toy collector and photographer and I’m OK with that

(or why George Lucas has a lot to answer for…)

My good friend Brett asked if I’d like to write a few words for the blog about why I collect and take photographs of toys. Who am I to refuse a bearded Australian?

It’s one of those questions I’m always fascinated to hear the answer from others I’ve met online, and hopefully my random ramblings might resonate with other middle aged people with ‘understanding’ partners. Continue reading I’m a toy collector and photographer and I’m OK with that

With friends like these…

Ever since I learned about Shelly’s new blog (she was kind enough to let me know about it before it became active) I’ve been wanting to write something. She used to post to Instagram whenever there was a new post on Stuck in Plastic and I always thought: “I should go ahead and read those posts, they are pretty good”. However, I seldom had the chance/time/non-laziness level to do so.

This is not the case with her new blog! I try to read the articles as soon as they’re published. I try to comment something meaningful and participate… whatever I can. Brett’s posts are always inspiring and they always make me smile. I sense the same “Dennis the Menace” spirit in him that I see in my dad. Shelly’s posts make me question things I don’t always think about. I know I can always learn something from her. Continue reading With friends like these…

Why? by Tyroga

Why do you photograph Lego?”, “What’s with all the toy photos?”, “Your little men are funny… what got you into photographing them?” – Questions I’m asked all the time.

I started photographing my Lego back in 2012 when I came across Lego’s Series 4 Minifigures at my local Coles supermarket. Continue reading Why? by Tyroga

Why? by Jennifer Nichole Wells

Hi everyone,

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… Continue reading Why? by Jennifer Nichole Wells