What to photograph?

I’ve been in a creative slump and to get out of it, i’ve been reading The Photographer’s Playbook, looking for inspiration. I’ve found a lot of interesting ideas and things that have made me think.

One idea that fascinated me was by David Campany (pages 45-46). He wrote about a class assignment he set:

“Each student thought of an instruction, an object, place, or scenario to be photographed. The thirty-six instructions were compiled and given to all thirty-six students…

We laid them out in a huge grid, so that vertically you could see thirty-six different responses to the same instruction, while horizontally you might be able to discern each student’s approach or style.”

Most of the prompts (listed in full in the book) weren’t up my street as a photographer of toys, so I looked to an alternative source of photo prompt inspiration – a photo-a-day prompt wall chart I got a few weeks ago. I picked 7 things that called out to me in a quick glance through and photographed them from my toy collection! This was just the right number for me this weekend, as the heat has made it hard to bear to be moving more than necessary!

My results are below:

LEGO benny
LEGO teddybear
Pose Skeleton foot
LEGO flowers
New growth
LEGO teapot
LEGO list

I tried not to put too much thought into each prompt. I tried to do the first thing that I thought of whilst having a root around in my toy box.  The oddest one is definitely ‘foot’ but kind of like the randomness!

Both the original challenge, and the prompts from my wall chart, made me think about how we get our ideas, especially during more challenging times in our lives. Having prompts (or hashtags!) helped me to take some toy photos in an otherwise Toy Photography free week! Awesome. It also made me think about the idea of how different photographers will interpret the same prompts. How would you have photographed the prompts I use? Did ideas immediately spring to mind, or did you have to have a think?

And all this thinking about prompts and interpretations made me think that perhaps we, as a community of photographers, ought to try David’s challenge. Get a group of us to all provide prompts and then take those photos and compare the results! Are you interested in starting this kind of challenge? Let me know in the comments! It could be an interesting way to explore and discover different styles of toy photography but before organising it, I’d love to see the interest level!

And if you want to see more about how The Photographers Playbook can be used to inspire toy photography, check out Shelly and Kristina’s previous posts by searching through our Photo Challenge tag. There’s plenty there to inspire!

  • Lizzi

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  1. I’m in – sounds like fun. Usually have a random assortment of toys in my camera bag for random opportunities. I’ve actually captured a lot of my favorite shots this way – I don’t plan many of them, the situations arise and happenstance makes it happen.😎👍🤷‍♂️

    Great shots all around.

  2. Ann Van Breemen

    Yes. That sounds like a perfect way to get the little grey cells ticking again. Plus it would be interesting to see other photographers interpretation of the same subject.

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