Turns out your mom was right, and you should watch your posture. Well, your action figures posture. This was underlined with an experience I had shooting a new action figure over the holiday break. I thought I would share it with you fine folks.
This year I took the family on a cruise to the Bahamas for Christmas break. On Christmas day I found myself sitting on a beach watching the kids making a huge sand fortress. I was armed with a new action figure, an Old Man Logan. The combination inspired me, so I grabbed my gear and got to work.
I set up Logan (aka X-Mens Wolverine), and a LumeCube for light.
The First Attempt
My first setup was simply to have Logan standing in an action pose in front of the sand fortress. It looked like this (straight out of camera):
It was a decent shot, but it lacked energy. I wanted a dramatic image, but this was more of a stoic stance. Clearly I needed to try something else.
Note that I was not worried about the kids playing in the background as I always envisioned removing them in post-production.
The Second Attempt
I switched things up, gave Logan his Wolverine claws, and came up with a more action-y pose. The second attempt looked like this (straight out of camera):
This shot is closer to my vision. It has a lot more energy, and the extended claws gives it a menacing sense. At the time this pose was satisfactory, so I took a bunch of shots with some thrown sand to try and get some more energy into the scene.
Along the way I needed to move the figure to clean off some sand. When I placed the figure back I accidentally put him down in a slightly different pose.
The Third Attempt
This is the third attempt (straight out of camera):
When I put the figure down I unconsciously placed it in a more energetic post. The first running pose Logan was more upright, giving him more of a hesitant, reluctant feel. Almost like he is slowing down. In contrast, with the second running pose he is leaning into the run, giving him a charging feel.
It is a subtle difference, but an important one. To make action figures believable in photos, matching their pose with the intent of the shot is vitally important.
Pose and posture are important. It doesn’t take any longer to get an action figure into any pose, but getting the correct pose can make a big difference between a mediocre image and a more impactful one.
I could have further improved the pose, by straightening Logans hat, and having him face the camera directly, but I was on a vacation cruise, and there was Rum Punch to consume. So I decided to be happy with what I had, and processed this last image:
Want more toy photography goodness? Subscribe to our weekly email round up so that you never miss a post. You can also listen to episodes of the podcast!
Great post, Dave! A great reminder to one and all.
Definitely agree with you on the topic of posing. A fellow instagrammer and myself have a term when we get to obsessed with getting the right pose. We call it Pose Porn. It definitely changes the whole energy level and adds to the story telling.
Sometimes, after spending a substantial amount of time on a complicated setup , I do risk messing it up cause some character’s pose is just slightly off or some figures are not making the right eye contact. The little details definitely counts.
Even as I write this, am working on a shot at the moment and I am fussing whether my character should be squatting or sitting.
“pose porn” – I am going to borrow that term 🙂
Looking forward to seeing that shot your working on.
Also, while you’re here – thanks for the holiday card! It was awesome to get some more of your art!
Thank you for this interesting post, Dave! I absolutely agree with you: a good action figure can look great on the shot when you work with its pose and find the energy in the picture. This post is a perfect illustration of your success! 🙂 The second attempt looks very impressive too. Thanks again!
Good remind on posture Dave!
Personally, posing action figures realistically is paramount for me when shooting and it’s what captures my attention most when viewing images of action figures. (Perhaps it’s an occupational hazard as I’m a physiotherapist by trade and am constantly drilling the importance of posture daily!)
I would usually act out the pose I want to recreate and take note of head tilt, trunk flex/extension/rotation, position of each joint in the arms and legs in particular hands in relation to head. Hot Toys do amazing poses in their promo shots and I usually view (and drool) at them for inspiration.
I have occaisionally practiced a pose, but more a body part, like “How does the bi-cep sit when the arm is out to the side?” sort of things, and I”ll extend my arm. I need to do more of this tho 🙂
This was a great read – i love the serendipity of the final pose, and the tilt of the hat is perfect! I often find myself messing about with the angle of a figure’s head, tilting slightly up and down, side to side, taking shots every time to create a range of different emotional impressions. it ‘s good to know I’m not alone!
Thanks! A good pose can be tough, and a game of millimeters, but well worth the time to get it right.