I met my neighbor out on the street. She’s an art teacher and we started talking about a class that she was preparing. It is a class about what makes a photo work. She had set the goal to get her students to realize that a good photo can and should do more than reproduce what the photographer sees. A photograph needs to be something more that just a reproduction of reality.

By our choices in framing, composition, settings, subject, focus, idea, concept etc, we create something more. Mostly the thing that determines if an image works or not is the details. It can be the idea or the concept behind the image, or something totally different.

What does failure look like?

After this talk with my neigbor I started thinking about  failure. As toy photographer yourself, you probably know how small details can make all the difference if an image works or not. When I’m doing images I think about the details that determine if I choose one image over another… While thinking about failure, I decided to write down a list off criteria that determines if I fail or not to choose an image over another.

The list of failure for a photo

Let me begin by acknowledging, that many of my attempts to make photographs with toys don’t work. When the results don’t work here is my list of the most common reasons:

– the composition
– the framing
– the background
– the settings
– the foreground
– the motive (the toy)
– the light/the lightning
– focus
– the angle
– the idea

Ultimately, I should say that my success as a photographer depends on me and my ability. While this can be a comfort, it’s also hard to handle. When I’m looking at a failed image, or at images that I don’t think work, I only have myself to blame. The toy can’t help me, it’s only a tool or a subject for my image making. This is an awesome fact! Toys never complain, they never say no, but they don’t ever help either. I can never blame them for my failure. A great image only depends on me as the photographer and my ability to do photographs.


To conclude, the most common reason for my failure is that I don’t have the patience to do the work. I simply do not have the time, desire or willingness to do the job that will make the photograph as good as I know it can be.


Maybe I should share a few failures? Below are a selection of my latest and why I think they failed.

the highlights are to bright (even for me)

the framing doesn’t work with the idea

no one will get the idea

The subject is falling

I’m not sure about the background – doesn’t work