I’ve been giving a lot of thought to where lies the joy of toy photography. What drives me to create images with toys for the last six and a half years? What is the attraction to this crazy hobby and will it last? As I approach seven years working on this project I’ve been wondering if its time for a new challenge. After all these years, does toy photography still bring me joy?
What comes next?
This summer has been very busy with toy photography. My time has been dominated by preparing for my first big arts festival as well as working on two major projects for The Lego group. I’m happy to report the show was a success and that Lego seems pleased with the work I created for their marketing campaigns.
Now that I’ve completed my assignments and met my personal goals, I’m left wondering what comes next?
If truth be told, I’m an accidental toy photographer. I fell into this fun hobby through a confluence of several events: a well-timed gift of collectible mini figures, joining Instagram and emerging from a mid life course correction. In the early days, toy photography was simply a pleasant diversion. I had no goals except to reconnect with the act of photography.
Soon my own creative drive kicked in and a few amazing opportunities came my way. Before I knew it, toy photography was dominating my life. Between postings images to social media every day AND writing about toy photography every week it didn’t take long before I was thinking about toy photography all the time. While it’s not always easy to keep up with social media or think of blogging topics, this is still a process I enjoy.
Why Toy Photography?
During this entire process I never stopped long enough to ask myself ‘why’? I never bothered to ask myself if I was having fun? Maybe I’m simply addicted to social media? I know some part of me enjoys the challenge of selling what I create’ but is that enough? One of the reasons I enjoy our “Why?” series is I’m often looking to see if I see myself in other toy photographers.
Here are a few of the most common reasons that attract people to toy photography:
- Express creativity
- Bring toys to life
- Escape from reality
- Tell stories; both our own and established ones
- Relive childhood memories
- Enjoy collecting toys
- Relieves stress
- Explore photography from a different viewpoint
- Its fun
- It’s surprisingly therapeutic
- It’s an excuse to ‘play’ with toys
- Enjoy indulging in an active fantasy life
I’m sure my own reasons are somewhere in this list. Although, I have to add that I enjoy the social aspects of the hobby as much as anything else. I will be honest and say I hate the new and improved Instagram, but I’m grateful for the many friends I’ve made over the years. I doubt this is true for everyone, but for me, toy photography will be forever tied to the social aspects. Comments and interactions have a funny way of developing into online friendships. And those online friendships have a way of morphing into real life friends. My life is made richer by these opportunities. (Case in point: the many messages of condolences and concerns I received when I loped off part of my finger the other day. Thank you everyone who reached out.)
The Joy of Toy Photography
As my focus has shifted to selling rather than creating toy photography, my relationship to my work has altered. I’m spending more time reviewing older images and thinking about their potential salability. I’m spending as much time editing older images as I am creating new ones.
As I work my way through my portfolio of images, I’m really taking a trip down memory lane. Each image has a personal story. With every re-edit I relive the day that I took the photo and remember the friends or family I had with me. This has been an unexpected and joyful trip.
But all the fun hasn’t been in the past. Last week, Eva (@greaterbeast) and I went to one of my favorite locations, Denny Creek. Our goal was to get away from the city, reconnect with the outdoors and simply take a few toy photos for the fun of it. There were no dragons, no Voltron, no distractions…just two friends playing in each others toy boxes. For me, this was a much-needed break and an opportunity to reconnect with what I’ve been missing; the joy of toy photography. All summer long I’ve been meeting one challenge after another and it’s been too easy to forget what drew me to this crazy hobby in the first place: the friendships and the humor.
The Next Step
I have no idea what the future will hold. But I’m certain that I will be taking more toy photography breaks in the future. It’s too easy to get caught up in chasing the next new toy, posting to the never ending circuit that is social media and of course pushing the work to the next level. While all these goals can be fun and challenging, they don’t sustain me for the long haul. I came to this hobby because I needed to recharge my batteries. If I don’t keep the fun front and center, I think this hobby might crush me.
With that in mind, prepare to see a whole lot of Chima / Chimjago images on my feed for the next six weeks ( images sure to kill my like counts!). My good friend @Bricksailboat has challenged me and my little tribe to a #BirdBattle. We have not had a good Bird Battle since the Las Vegas toy photography meet up four years ago. I will be dusting off my Chima figures and getting them battle ready. Because when it is all said and done – this is where the joy of toy photography is for me.
Being silly and creating images that appeal to me and my own goofy sense of reality. Preferably with like minded friends.
What attracts you to toy photography? Where do you find the joy in toy photography? What keeps you motivated and challenged?
And if you want to win a complete set of UniKitty! Collectible Series #1 you will want to join our G+ Community and enter this months contest. The theme is the number one. You can interpret this intentionally vague theme any way you see fit. So far the competition is keen!