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.

“My mother is a fish.”

“The barn went swirling up in little red pieces against the sky and the stars moved backward.”

“Motionless, the tall buzzards hang in soaring circles, the clouds giving them an illusion of retrograde.”

“The wagon went on…the wagon creaks on.”

“Jewel is my brother. Cash is my brother. Cash has a broken leg. We fixed Cash’s leg so it doesn’t hurt. Cash is my brother. Jewel is my brother too, but he hasn’t got a broken leg.”

“Tell the same story again and again in an interesting way.”

-Christopher Niemann

Do you ever revisit your old images or even reshoot the same figures or scenes? Tell us about it in a comment below.

~ Jennifer Nichole Wells


  1. Jennifer – this is amazing! I enjoyed your earlier series but the images you created recently are amazing. It really shows how much you have grown as a toy photographer, how you are able to use different techniques to convey your message. Really fabulous! Keep up the awesome work!

    Of course my first thought was that we should make this into a challenge in the G+ community. Shelly

  2. brett_wilson

    This is such a wonderful post, for many reasons!
    I revisited a few shots last year for the exhibition I did. They weren’t terribly old shots, but there was just something that bugged me about them, something that would’ve grated on my nerves if they were hanging on a wall in a gallery for all to see. Well, maybe only I’d see the things that bugged me?
    You reworked images are amazing!
    The shots I reworked were purely to fix the tiniest flaws I saw in the originals.
    Yours are a beautiful documentation of progression, development and advancement. They are a homage to your past, a showcase of your now, and maybe a little peak into the future. It’d be cool to see what you’d do if you revisited these shots again in another 9 years time?

    • I think it’s a great practice to revisit and rework no matter how new or old the shots. It’s not something I do often but I’d like to get more in the habit of it. As long as I don’t drive myself crazy tweaking.
      Thank you so much for your kind words. It would be so interesting to revisit these again in another 9 years time. I guess we’ll just have to see.

  3. I really enjoyed reading this post (sorry I’m a little late, I’m trying to catch up) 🙂 I recently reshot an older image that I took for the 35th Anniversary of Star Wars. Last month, for the 40th Anniversary, I revisited the photo because it is such a classic photo from the movie and I’m very glad that I did. Great post and your photos are amazing! I especially like the burning barn photo!


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