Off season podcast – Is toy photography FanFiction?

During James’ podcast break we (Kristina and I) will do a short podcast-series about “What toy photography is”. In this first episode, of a three part mini season, we talk about toy photography and its relationship to FanFiction.

The conversation

Our conversation started several years ago when we started a project with the goal of collaborating on a book about toy photography. While we never finished the book, we decided to use our draft as the basis for this three part off-season podcast series. Our conversation is a continuing exploration of the topics we previously investigated through our writing.


Fanfiction is when someone takes either the story or characters (or both) of a certain piece of work, whether it be a novel, tv show, movie, etc, and create their own story based on it. Sometimes people will take characters from one movie and put them in another, which is called a cross-over. – Urban Dictionary

With this definition as the basis for understanding FanFiction, we look at our own work through this lens. In this conversation we ask questions like: Is FanFiction a short cut to understanding a photo? Is FanFiction a form of pandering to the audience? If you don’t know the original stories of the charectors, is that an impediment to understanding the photograph?

Of course we like to dig deep so we also explore questions like: Do other toy photographers use FanFiction to tell their own stories? Is a photo more authentic and original if you can feel the photographer behind the photo?

The podcast and images

If you’re interested in exploring toy photography in a different way then we invite you to listen to our talk where we examine the following photographs through the specific lens of FanFiction.

Heading Home by Shelly Corbett
Ice Queen by Shelly Corbett*
Pizza Delivery by Shelly Corbett
A fathers love by Kristina Alexanderson
Comfort by Kristina Alexanderson
Left behind by Kristina Alexanderson


When you’ve listened the episode and our esoteric ramblings, we love to hear from you! How do you do use FanFiction in your toy photography? Is it because you really love the story line and want to stay connected? Do you want to build your own universe around your favorite characters? Or do you want to use these beloved charectors to tell your own stories? Or maybe you use some combination of the above? Whatever the reason, please leave your comments below.

Thanks for listening and we look forward to continuing our conversation in the next episode.

See you then!

Shelly and Kristina

*In the podcast Kristina refer to a the blogpost “#bc-reboot” and the three images of the Ice queen. 


  1. Janan

    Yay for a special podcast episode and there were a number of moments where I found myself nodding my head. I enjoyed the tough questions Kristina put out and just as equally, the insightful responses Shelly gave. There’s wonderful chemistry in your conversation about this passion.

    The discussion did resonate with me. It made me realise that’s what I do with toy photography. I use fan fiction characters to tell a deeper message, usually one that is positive, encouraging or uplifting. Sometimes, I do feel that the message might not get pass the superficial layer of quick scrolling. Nonetheless, I hope there can be deeper layers of enjoyment for some who linger.

    Oh and I really love the bokeh framing in Kristina’s image as well as the jarring chaos in Shelly’s ice queen – it’s so uncomfortably good and apt.

    • Thank you so much for listening Janan! Both K and I where a little reticent about releasing this podcast into the wild. While we both enjoy talking about (toy) photography in abstract and personal terms, we realize this isn’t everyone cup of tea. Its nice to know that our ramblings resonate with you. Your comment touches on another of our pet peeves about social media. The quick nature of the scrolling mechanism rewards images that can be understood quickly rather than images that require an extra moment to really sit with an image. We the viewers are not served well by this platform, nor are the artists trying to convey more than a quick joke. But as always, we work with what we have 😀

  2. kristina

    thank you for sharing your experience, it is different to do these compaired with sharing the air with James. I’m glad you recognize yourself and your mission. /k

  3. Astrid

    I really like this podcast. You both have such a wonderfully calm and friendly way of talking to each other!
    Honestly, I’ve never heard of fan fiction before and I don’t think I’m one of the ToyPhotographers who tell these kind of stories. I disassembled all my Lego figures some time ago and then put them together again. Many of these characters bring a story with them and the viewers of photos connect the characters with their story. They interpret pictures against the background of a film or a book and I can’t ignore that. That‘s why I prefer non fan fiction characters in my photography.
    Shelly, I absolutely LOVE Leia in her boat and Kristina, your picture with the lonely Stormtrouper is amazing. They touched me both. These are the pictures that made me stop scrolling and I take time to look at the picture for longer … it doesn‘t matter in it‘s a fan fiction pic or not. It‘s all about emotions.
    I can‘t wait for the next episode 🙋🏼

    • kristina

      Thank you Astrid, I’m so happy we gave you some food for thoughts that was the whole idea. I love your work, the work I have seen isn’t fanfiction in the conventional way – and that makes it so you and in many ways it stands out for just that reason.

  4. I feel like my photography leans more toward fan fiction than not. I’m always looking for the stuff that might have happened in between scenes/games/films, etc. However, I tend to gravitate toward stories with lots of potential for that kind of thing. Star Wars is quite hard for me to shoot, but Halo and Legend Of Zelda are slightly more obscure and therefore easier as subject matter.

    As I was listening to this episode, I was thinking about how I shoot and if my current emotions carry over to my photos. I think sometimes they do, but I don’t use Toy Photography as a way to process emotions. I’m a Christian, and wherever I go, and whatever I feel, I can always rely on God to help me deal with it.

    Looking at the photos for this episode, I noticed that the Stormtrooper in the Left Behind shot has a drop of water on the back of the helmet, lining up with the ‘face’ there. It gives the impression of tears. I’m curious, was that purposeful?

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