Podcast 32: Johnny Wu (SgtBananas) Interview

Get ready for a big episode of the podcast this week, because I interviewed Johnny Wu, aka SgtBananas! Johnny has been called an “Instagram sensation” by outlets like the Wall Street Journal and Yahoo, had a book of his work published by Dynamite Comics, and has worked with big companies like Hasbro and Lucasfilm. He’s also one of my favorite toy photographers.

Johnny’s latest collaboration is with Lume Cube, co-hosting the Ultimate Toy Photography Contest (which ends this week on the 26th). I wish I could say that having Johnny on the show – after my interview with Trevor at Lume Cube and last week’s Lume Cube roundtable review – was all carefully and ingeniously planned, but it was more a stroke of dumb luck. Johnny messaged me on Instagram last week to say he liked the latest episode, and I extended an invitation to be interviewed. He’s been on my wishlist of potential guests since starting the show, so I’m happy that the stars aligned. Within 48 hours of messaging each other for the very first time, we were sitting down to record what became a great conversation. It was a prime example of how great technology can truly be.

Heeeeeeeere’s Johnny!

Riding on fumes…

I asked Johnny the usual questions about how he got into toy photography and his creative process, but also wanted to see if he could pass on any lessons from the many opportunities he’s had. As someone who’s just barely scratched the surface of doing product photography for companies, I wanted to know about his experience and see if he had any advice.

You can hear all of that and more now, either on your go-to podcast app or right here on the blog. I’m extremely proud of our conversation, and hope you enjoy it!

Thanks again to Johnny for coming onto the show and sharing his insights. I’m excited to see where he goes from here! You can follow his work on Instagram and Facebook, and listen to his own podcast, “They’re Not Dolls!” here.

There are still a couple of days left to enter Lume Cube’s Ultimate Toy Photography Contest! Get all the rules about submitting your entries here. The deadline is this Wednesday, September 26th. 

Here’s the Lume Cube firecracker shot Johnny mentions in the episode!


  1. Demarcation Media

    I’d never heard of Avanaut (if that’s how you spell it) but I had heard of the Small Scenes From A Big Galaxy book and I’d seen it in Toys R Us actually. That book was what led me to find the whole Toy Photographers community, even though I’ve never read it. Now I want to. Great podcast episode! It was cool to hear Sgt Bananas POV. Since I’d used G+ only until this Lume Cube contest, I’d never seen his work until just recently.

  2. This was a very good podcast, I enjoyed it a lot.

    There were a lot of things I could relate to. Your experience with the book sounded all too familiar. It took a long time before I could open mine too. I got your book, missed the Kickstarter but got it immediately afterwards. If we ever meet, I’ll make sure I have the book with me for you to sign.

    Even with a Lego snowtrooper minifigure, which has a grand total of six points of articulation, I have reshot photographs because of a wrongly placed wrist more times than I can remember. I enjoyed listening to the part about difficulties posing a figure. It’s a skill to pose them naturally and balanced, not overly exaggerated even when in an action setup. I like them to be bound to gravity, if that makes sense. It is super important.

    And yes, there is a Lego setup on my tabletop even now, waiting for me to figure it out. It’s been there well over a week now. The camera is there, the setup is there, I know what I want but I don’t know how to get there. I have no idea how long it’s going to take this time. It usually is something between an hour and a year. But I do pack them away in the meanwhile. I need the table. 🙂

    It was good to listen to you guys talking about these things.

    Oh, and greetings from my dog. It’s very late evening here and I listened to this quietly downstairs while working to meet a (illustration) deadline tomorrow, the dog responded to your dog’s bark very loudly.

    • Thanks Vesa! I love the “something between an hour and a year” comment, it really does vary depending on the shot and how badly you want to get it right. I regret giving in on some shots that I know I could have done better. Maybe someday I’ll try them again.

      That bit about your dog cracked me up! 😂

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