The instant that little NO SERVICE materialized at the top of my phone as Dave and I rolled into that deceptively picturesque beach town in Oregon, I was like, Oh fuck.  I’ve made a huge mistake.

How will I yelp the best gelato? Compare brunch menus?? Sniff out where the locals eats!

Yeah, I didn’t call my husband even once but getting the best food into my face? Top priority.

How the hell did that happen?

So, I don’t know how and why but I ended up sharing a beautiful house with all the action figure, practical effects douchebags. And if I didn’t have an inferiority complex when I got there, I sure do now! Those guys rolled in with portable studio lighting, fireworks, canned fog, knee pads, and toys galore. Their on the spot setups were more intricate than anything I’ve ever done in my home studio. (And I say “home studio” but what I really mean is “three of the cheapest Ikea desk lamps on top of a table nobody wanted.”)

But as the hours and days progressed, the panic about my phone began to dissipate and the detox of my soot black, radiated soul was soon underway.

To be honest the weekend brought me back to the haze of high school/college. The frat parties. Nights where you could all just go hang out at someone’s place. Where all these like-minded people, all existing within the same time period of our lives, were in great proximity. Within arm’s reach.

No shame

Dave, Austin, Eric, Jazer, Jax. We stayed up every night until the wee hours talking toys and photography, venting our frustrations about Instagram, and we all understood exactly what everyone was saying. Then going over to Shelly’s and being able to geek out with zero reservations or shame…!! It was a great release.

I don’t know about you, but there’s not one person in my life that understands even a little bit of this. Why don’t I do some real photography? Why is my Instagram full of toys for children and not selfies? Why do I talk to all these people I don’t know? And really. I never know how to answer without shrugging, telling them to suck my dick and to go back to posting aesthetically deficient pictures of their sneakers and mind their own business.

(Btw, did you guys find me terribly unfriendly that weekend? 🙂)

For me, creating is a release but I didn’t feel any need for that those four days. I didn’t take many pictures but I reveled in your company, your stolen food, the conversations and laughs, and it’s been a very, very long time, but I felt light again. At peace and unburdened by all the various things life likes to do to you.

More than just a shared hobby

Our community goes way beyond a shared hobby, a personal quest to see yourself in art. I mean you can and already do all that by your lonesome, but we are a safe space. We are where a very real part of you can take refuge because we all understand and appreciate your hard work. It’s never more apparent than during these annual toy safaris.

So, while everyone was doing their thing on the beach, I actually got some writing done! Unless you or Shelly are terribly opposed, I’ll be on here at least for a few more articles lol. Thanks for reading.

~ Eva (aka @greaterbeast)

Ed. Note: If you would like to see more of Eva’s ramblings here on the blog, please leave a comment below. 


  1. Joshua Kittleson

    awesome! looking forward to more articles from you!
    i did a lot of shrugging myself in regards to the “why” i was asked. or id give the non blah answer of “why not?” it seems that now people just take it in stride as a part of me.
    my favourite retort actually came second hand, i was shooting a vintage butt-face (or was it walrus man?) and an observer says “is this a where i go my buddie goes thing?” to which a fried who was with me says matter of factly “its his art”. which i like.
    also, im swiping that “go back to posting aesthetically deficient pictures of their sneakers” bit HA! perfect!

  2. Excellent post, Eva! I for one would love to see more articles from you.

    You’re absolutely right about this community and how it’s a safe haven. I always feel a bit guarded in real life when I talk about toys or my photography, but being surrounded by like-minded people, who are all instantly friends, was refreshing and exciting. It makes me wish these meet-ups happened more often!

    You didn’t at all come off as unfriendly during the safari, at least not to me! I know we didn’t get much time shooting or hanging out together, but I did enjoy your company when we did 🙂

  3. Eva, you are one of a kind! I enjoyed this article immensely and can relate to it as well… Our #OhioToyKick meet-ups have descended into enjoying each other’s company (sometimes in a haze of smoke) as much as, if not more than, the photography. I also get a shit signal at the campground we usually do our meet-ups at as well… ha!

  4. Eva, i really enjoyed reading your post! I feel your emotions and it’s like being there! Ok, i’m lying, i don’t know at all what does it means being there with all of you guys, but if i had to imagine it, probably those are feelings that i would put in there.

  5. Please please please write more! I was instantly sucked in by the relatable ‘no service = huge mistake’ revelation, but your crack about not calling your husband and making food a top priority and your visually descriptive words about the condition of your soot black soul (which i call BS on that btw, i think those of us in the toy community know thats a front you put up to keep the normies at bay, lol) elevated this to writing i want to read more of. Relatable, down to earth, and intelligently composed- not just one of the best photographers around, but a damn good writer to boot.

    And what can i say really other than you made me super jealous i was unable to attend this year as i originally intended, hopefully next year will see something similar transpire and i’ll be able to pack up my own shoddy camera equipment and join in- it’d be nice to shoot with people who understand the passion for our hobby as you wrote about instead of being the random weird guy in my neighborhood always crawling in bushes and taking pictures of ‘kid’s toys…’

    • I wanna meet you so bad Tom. I don’t even wanna shoot, I just wanna eat!! Lol. I think Jax and I talked food all weekend that I’m sure was pretty annoying. We can all pig out hehe

      You are hands down one of the most supportive people I know — and not just to me. To the whole community. Thank you for always being there and being so kind!

  6. Janan Lee

    Great honest writing Eva. What you said about “..detox of my soot black, radiated soul was soon underway” does remind me about the need to disconnect from our devices (not sure if that was the intent of the statement.)

    I’m a strong believer in the power of community in making one feel safe, supported, free and have fun. So stoked to hear the weekend was all that and more.

    I got my hand up to hear more ramblings in fiture.

    • You nailed it! I was not prepared at all for spending the weekend forced to be completely off my phone. I immediately felt anxious and panicky — but I’m so glad it happened. I spend SO much time online, the weekend ended up being a great detox.

      Our community is the best I’ve ever been a part of. We all come from completely different walks of life but we’re still so close and supportive of each other. We are really lucky

  7. Harrlem

    Great article, Eva!

    “Why is my Instagram full of toys for children and not selfies?” – Because they are too mainstream! Sometimes I thought about how most people here in Singapore like to shoot the same food or scenery a lot, but it doesn’t really bother me much nowadays. I’m glad to be different and I’m loving it! 🙂

  8. Eva, I think your fans have spoken – they would like to see you contribute a few more pieces to the blog. As would I.

    I for one was grateful and pleased that you came this year. It’s been too long since the last time and that really wasn’t the true experience. Im super happy that David took you in and made a place for you in his house. Who knows where we will meet up next year, but I doubt the location will matter, only our friends who join us.

    Cheers and I look forward to the next time our paths cross IRL. 🙂

    • I think it was because you were so incredibly welcoming that first time that I felt comfortable to go this year. You are so genuine and so passionate, it was amazing to have that sort of energy in my life.

      Thank you again for putting together this opportunity! Many of us are still reminiscing about it.

  9. Definitely want to hear more of your thoughts, Eva! So glad you had such a great time with your housemates. Next time I’d love to be closer to others in the group or share a house. That’s where the real fun is at, when it comes to hang time. 🙂

  10. @fallenfind_

    Well written eva, especially ‘why don’t I do real photography?’ what do they think it is!!! We also support each other unlike the follow to unfollow morons that are only in it for themselves, as for Jax and co with their equipment I agree who wouldn’t be intimidated? , those guys are off the scale with the work they produce, but Anyway this is well written and I am happy I finally got here to read this and I look forward to reading more of your writing. See you on IG, @fallenfind_ (Ian)

  11. I loved your post Eva. It was great meeting you. And while I’d never write this in a blog post’s comments or other public space, I found you friendly and fun. Thanks for being so welcoming of my boy, too. 👊

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