Podcast 02 – “Play” with Kristina Alexanderson

Thank you to everyone who listened to our debut episode of the Toy Photographers Podcast last week! If you haven’t heard it yet, you can listen to it here.

This week on the podcast, I’m joined by Kristina Alexanderson for our very first “theme” episode. These will be slightly different than the interview episodes; Kristina and I will have picked a specific theme to photograph, and taken a photo with that theme in mind. We then jump on Skype, share our photos with one another, and discuss what we see, both literally and in terms of how it relates to the theme we picked.

The theme for this week’s episode was “Play,” something I think all toy photographers have considered when snapping shots of LEGO or action figures!

My image

When I think of the word play, the first thing that comes to mind is children playing. Either outside with friends or family, inside with their toys, etc. I wanted to capture that childlike, playful spirit in this photo of father and son.

Kristina’s image

Kristina interpreted the theme differently, specifically in regards to how the word “play” refers to love in Swedish.

You can listen to the episode here:

In the episode I mention a Stormtrooper book I just picked up and really love, it’s called Stormtroopers: Beyond the Armor by Ryder Windham. You can check that out here if you’re interested.

Give us your thoughts!

What do you think of when you hear the word “play?” What images come to mind? Did you agree with our own assessment in the episode? We would love to hear your thoughts, and see your images! Leave your comments down below, or send us your interpretation and images via email to toyphotographypod@gmail.com, and Kristina and I will read them on air during our next episode, which will air on February 11th.

Until then, thank you so much for listening!


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  1. Great conversation Kristina and James. It was interesting to see how you both approached the subject of play. James thanks for explaining your choice of bicycle colors and how they relate to their lightsaber colors. I was impressed by that level of detail. Im curious why you chose a rebel figure and not a specific Luke figure for that set up? Ive been giving the idea of ‘play’ a lot of thought and of course my thoughts went to a darker place. Maybe I will take a photo this month that puts my own thoughts about play into an image.

    For the future do you have a hashtag people can use if they want you to see there image? Can you talk about your choice of lighting in future episodes.

    I look forward to next month because I know how much of a challenge it will be for Kristina. Again, excellent work!

    • Thanks, Shelly! That’s a very good question on why I chose a rebel figure outfit instead of Luke’s Tatooine or Return of the Jedi garb… I honestly don’t remember if that was a conscious decision or if I simply just like the look of Rebel gear! I suspect it’s the latter… I think the choice also had to do with blue and orange being complementary colors (though in retrospect the orange clashes a bit with the green…)

      I would love to see your own interpretation of “play!” I’ll brainstorm on a potential hashtag and include that (as long as some lighting discussion) in the next podcast.

  2. Tony Tulloch

    I subscribe to the belief that you may have to grow old, but you don’t have to grow up. I think toy photography is a great example of this; so the play element, and the humour that can be associated with this, naturally shows in many of our images.

    I was interested in the comments about printing the images. As a digital only boy, I’ve not had the need to print out my images until I asked my daughter to make Christmas cards from my toy photography. I was surprised at how different the glossy 6×4″ printed versions looked to my screen based versions.

  3. Great podcast Kristina and James. I really enjoyed the conversation and these 2 podcasts have accompanied me on my drive to/from work. Personally, I enjoy the slow process of appreciating a photo and hearing the inspiration behind it is so cool, ie why Kristina had the frog and the reason why faces seldom appear in her shots. James, the summer feel comes through so beautifully as you’d planned!

    For me, “PLAY” conjures up flashbacks of childhood games – soccer & sega were my highlights. Funny that play seems to be shoved aside when we get older as things become more “Serious.” I’m so glad there’s this space for play to occur.

    Cheers all. 😊

    • Thanks, Janan! I’m so glad to hear you’re enjoying the podcast 😊

      You’re absolutely right about “play” falling by the wayside when we become adults. I think it’s a shame, and I’m glad we can keep it somewhat alive through our art!

  4. Reiterlied

    Like Joe, for me, “play” plays (;-)) a central part in my photography. I’ve been thinking about it quite a lot in December, and I’ve found that often play foster new ideas. Having struggled with finding ideas in the past 6 months, I’ve decided to spend more time this year playing with my toys without a camera.

    I’m looking forward to the next podcast on feelings. Although I use minifigs with happy faces a lot, I also like to use more neutral expressions. There aren’t a ton of them but there are at least a few. Last year I’ve used Chell (from the Portal game), the CMF sea captain, a few Star Wars characters (mostly females: Jyn, the red robe Amidala and Leia from the Ewok village), Gizmo (who looks a bit sad), Dobby and Anton from the old fishing store (who’s face is also available in a few other less expensive sets). My favorite and most used though is the CMF series 16 Snow Queen. Her “not amused” facial expression combined with the lack of posability is just perfect to convey the feeling of winter.

    • The “play” theme definitely comes through in your photos! I love the idea of playing with toys in addition to just photographing them. I honestly don’t play much with my LEGO or action figures… I tend to display them, photograph them, then put them back on the shelf. I’ll have to set aside some play time and see how that goes!

      And you’re absolutely right about neutral faces. After the episode recording I went and looked at my minifig heads, and found that I actually use a lot more expressions than I thought. My favorites are fear or tension (often used for humor, as I said in the episode), anger or determination, and neutrality (which can often be juxtaposed against something more serious for a fun effect).

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