I read an article on The Photographers blog about avoiding chasing trends in photography and the lesson they were trying to teach is, in my view, summed up by a quote by Gregory Heisler, “shoot the photos you can’t help but shoot.” Reading this article made me think that toy-photography is just a trend; a trend in photography that is made possibly by a combination of digital cameras and the Internet.
Was there toy-photography before the internet? Is there a genre called toy-photography?
As I see it, toy-photography is no genre in it self it’s part of a genre in art called still life, because what we do is create pictures with little bits of plastic. We create still life’s the same way as painters and photographers always have, but instead of flowers, fruits, bowls and so on, we use children’s toys. You may object that your toys are alive and that you see them as living people. I get that and truly understand your feelings because I also love my toys and I see them as my friends… but for most people they are merely inanimate plastic pieces. Toys are made for children to play with. So from my point of view the genre “toy-photography” doesn’t exist, what we are actually practicing is still life photography, with toys as our main object (motive). While we may think what we are doing is fresh and novel, it actually has been around for a while. I have seen beautiful still life’s made with toys created in the sixties by other photographers like Christer Strömsholm, so making still life´s with toys isn’t something that came with the internet. What we have that photographers before us haven’t had, is a easy way to meet like minded individuals through the internet and social media. Back to the question that started all of this: Is there a trend among photography to make still life’s with toys?
I don’t know, but in some ways I think so, especially when I read Mike’s statement about this being a “starter” genre, “give a child a
camera and there’s a high likelihood that they’ll take some bad photos of toys “. Through toys, children and adults, become photographers. With the Internet and social media, we see others doing the same thing, taking pictures of toys. That in it self may be enough to talk about “toy-photography” as a trend, easy to join and follow.
But if my assumption that what we do (when we as photographers takes pictures of toys) is part of a “trend” is correct, that doesn’t mean that your pictures of toys are only a part of this trend. You can, just as I do, follow Heisler’s advice and only shoot the photos you can’t help but shoot.
What do you think? Is photography of toys as motives just a trend in photography? And if so what happens when it ends?