This past weekend I meet up with some local toy photographers for an afternoon of companionship, conversation and photography. As I was looking around at my friends hard at work, I was struck by the variety of toys they had brought along as subjects. There were dinosaurs, Star Wars action figures, Bratz dolls, LEGO mini figures, custom figures, anime figures, and plenty more I couldn’t identify. Which brings me to my question – how do you choose the toys you photograph?

I’ve always wondered why some photographers are attracted to certain toys and not others. Some photographers swear by anything from the Star Wars universe, some photographers only use one or a very limited selection creating a unified look, while others use any and every toy that crosses their path for a colorful and eclectic look.

My own toy photography journey began with the LEGO mini figure and they continue to be the cornerstone of my photographic exploration. Occasionally I find myself attracted to a particular toy, like Danbo or T-Rex, and add it to my collection. I have fun photographing these other figures and find them a welcome break from the LEGO world.

No matter how far I stray from the LEGO mini figure, I always come back to them because I haven’t found anything that surpasses them for sheer story telling flexibility. Plus their diminutive size is a real plus; you can pack an awful lot of mini figures into one travel case.

Of course the trade off with these particular toys is that you can’t achieve the level of realism that you can with many of the multi articulated action figures that are currently for sale. Seven points of articulation are no match for 16 (or more!) when it comes to flexibility and pose-ability. You will never confuse a LEGO mini figure photograph with a hyper realistic scene – no matter how cleverly you light it or how much debris fills the air. In defense of my beloved mini figure, what it can’t achieve in realism it more than makes up for in fun.

So the question I want to know from you is this: what attracts you to the toys that you enjoy photographing the most? Is there a nostalgia element that inspires you? Is there a practical reason that makes one toy more appealing than another? Do you enjoy playing in a previously established story line or world? Does the design of a toy inspire you creatively? Do you like to photograph whats new and hip in the toy world? Are you inspired by a custom toys unique character? Or are you challenged by creating unique images from a toy that is readily available to all?

There are so many good reasons to photograph toys, but what is it about your favorite toys, that inspire you? I’m genuinely curious what motivates you. I’m hoping your answers will help me to understand why I might gravitate to the toys that I favorite. Who knows maybe your answers will lead to another interesting blog post?

Their have been many wonderful guest authors on the blog lately, that it reminds me that we can learn more from sharing our different experiences than only listening to me conjecture. With that in mind, I hope you will leave your thoughts and ideas on this subject in the comments.

Thank you and I look forward to reading your answers.

~ Shelly