Does this tag look familiar? I use the #Womenintoyphotography tag on all my Instagram photos. In fact I’ve been using this tag since August 2015. Why would I know the exact date? Because I introduced the #womenintoyphotography hashtag when I was writing for the blog Stuck In Plastic.

The backstory

Why would I invent such a long winded tag such as #womenintoyphotography? Surely in this modern day where women and men are treated equally there is no need for such a self explanatory tag? (*snort) Please don’t get me wrong, I truly believe the toy photography community is incredibly welcoming of all styles, genders and ages. Even with all this welcoming and wonderful camaraderie, the testosterone levels in the community can get a bit overwhelming. When you add together a penchant for creative online names with toys that skew male, I often wonder how many women toy photographers are there.

So I started this hashtag to find out.

“Here comes trouble” by Lynn (@handstand30)

Soon after the hashtag was introduced there was the inevitable backlash. This backlash came from a most unexpected place – my blog mates at Stuck in Plastic. The original blog post from 2015 was published when I was on my way to Sweden to take part in the Vaxholm Toy Photographers meet-up. Let the drama and behind the scenes shenanigans begin! While at the event I had a chance to talk to my blog mates in person. I wanted to hear why they objected to the tag and explain why I thought it was necessary. Lets just say we never did see eye to eye.

“Because it’s wrong.” by Amy (@catti.combs)

Sure I agree with the rationale that no one in this community is judged on their gender. Photos are judged on their merits, not on the photographers gender. Yes, I understand and commend this view point. And as I already mentioned it is one of the many reasons I respect and support this community. But sometimes we women have to stand up to be seen. This the primary reason why I started the #womenintoyphotography hashtag. I want to be seen and I want to see who in our community identifies with being a women.

I’m sure not everyone will agree with my reasons. If you want o help me see a different view point, please leave your comments below.

Fast forward

Fast forward nearly five years (Has it really been that long?) and there are over 32,300 images tagged #womenintoyphotography. The variety of toys is amazing: Lego, Funko Pops, Barbies, Revoltec, Pokemon, 6″ action figures, HO scale and so many more. It seems that women collect a wide variety of toys, just like their male counterparts. What a shocking discovery! (not really :D)

by Dianna (@dianna_yaneli)

I was reminded of the importance of this tag recently when I heard it name checked in a short video about LEGO. This tag isn’t only important to me, its important to anyone who identifies as a women and tags their photos with #womenintoyphotography. This tag helps us to become visible. Not only does this tag help us become visible to the entire toy community, but also to ourselves.

by Ginny (@figmagirl)

Just to clarify, this tag has never been about special treatment. It is only meant as a tag for discovery. The tag is used the same way a LEGO photographer might tag their photos #legography. Or a member of the Exclu Collective will tag their photos #exclucollective. If you photograph 1:6 scale toys you might use the #onesix tag. Each and every tag we use helps us to connect and be seen; #womenintoyphotography is no different.

Thank you and carry on…

Thank you to everyone who is using the #womenintoyphotography tag, You may not know where it started or why, but you find it relevant. Obviously you’re my kind if people . In fact, this is one of the few tags I follow on Instagram. I use it to find new women toy photographers to follow.

Yasmine & Aladdin by Natasja (@by_a.n.n.a.)

Even though I enjoy my brothers in toy photography, I want to support my fellow female artists as well. I want to make sure we’re visible here on the Toy Photographers blog both as featured artists and on the staff. Thank you Lizzi, Teddi and Ann for all you do to make this crazy enterprise go!

My other passion project is aimed at raising the visibility of women and girls in the LEGO community. It’s the Women’s Brick Initiative. As you can see my goal to support my fellow female artists runs deep. Maybe misguided…but no less sincere.

In conclusion, thank you for using the #womenintoyphotography tag! And if you’re a female or identify as one and you’re not using this tag, why not? Lets raise our visibility…one woman in toy photography at a time.


“Yep, iā€™m flying” by Bianca (@missbincaboo)

Who are your favorite female toy photographers?


  1. Joshua T Kittleson

    Thank you for sharing your passion for this with us.

    In my mind hashtags are not about recognition but connection. So creating one to connect like minded ladies makes sense.
    Many efforts are made to reach a point of global egalitarianism, but we are not there yet. One day a tag like this may not be needed, but until then, keep it up. You never know whose life you can brighten up with a seemingly simple detail.

  2. Matthew Wyjad @therearefourlegos

    The one thing that particularly sticks with me here is goal to promote lego and building etc to girls and then showcasing that talent. I have two boys now, and I have only one real regret about not having a girl (we’re most likely done:) and that is that I would love to raise a girl in my image. That’s not some male god complex thing, it’s just that I love it when a girl is skilled and confident in whatever she does. I love a wide variety of hobbies and trades and I would have loved to pass that on to a girl, when so many are raised in… lets just say, the way society at large generally does. It’s a small thing (one of many) but one of the things I’m proud of my wife for is teaching me how to throw a football. Not that I am not athletic, but that’s a skill that she definitely had down that I didn’t. We can all learn so much from each other when we just view skill as skill. There are many phenomenal women builders and photographers, and I would have lived the chance to launch another one into the world.

    • Matthew thank you for your wonderful comment. While I understand your disappointment in being unable to raise a daughter in a gender neutral environment you have an even more amazing opportunity: to raise two sons who understand that a skill is a skill. I think that in this day and age the harder job for us parents is to raise boys who don’t conform to the straight jacket that society enforces THEM to wear! šŸ˜€

  3. Astrid

    I use #womanintoyphotography for a long time! It’s great to see how long it has been and to know that you’ve created it. I fully agree with you in all aspects. Great blog post šŸ‘šŸ»šŸ˜šŸ‘šŸ»

  4. Thank You for this post Shelly. I would never think this tag would be the bone of contention. I just can’t imagine that. Especially in Sweden, which has great traditions in quality. Just like Joshua said, tags are meant to connect and if this tag does it (and it does) it’s another little brick to build the equality which is absolutely necessary. Stay strong!

  5. OMG, I think it’s SO important for all the community, not only for women! recognition and bonding are just some of the outcomes of this tag! I never use it for our pics since we are a couple and sometimes I take the pics and sometimes is Joan (catalan name BTW, he’s a man xD) and don’t wanna be misleading but I appreciate it A LOT.

    • Thank you Fran for your comment and Im glad you agree with the importance of such a small act. We aren’t here for the money, we’re here to connect. Without the right tags I cant even image how you could do it! If you ever find the tag appropriate, I hope you will use it! <3

  6. Reiterlied

    When you talk about the testosterone level, it makes me think why I unfollowed several hashtags I regularly use for my posts, like #Brickcentral, #ToyPhotographers, and #StuckInPlastic (and even smaller hashtags like #WithToysInMind). The photos from these hashtags that Instagram puts into my feed are often lacking diversity. It got to a point where my feed was so boring that it was making me angry. I ended up unfollowing those hashtags (and half of the people who I was following too…)

    While I have no real evidence to back up it, reading your post makes me wonder if that lack of diversity in those hashtag photos (at least for non LEGO photos) could be related to the level of testosterone. Thinking about it makes me realize that if I have to cite the toy photographers that had the biggest influence on my own photography, they’re mostly women. (Out of a bit less than a dozen that first come to my mind, the only man is Bricksailboat) I started to follow these hashtags when that feature was introduced to IG because I was feeling guilty of using them and never checking them out. I think I will start following #WomenInToyPhotography to see if it comes with more interesting suggestions than with the big generic ones šŸ˜‰

    • Maelick – I totally agree that diversity in the IG feed is important. When all I see are action photos with practical effects, I get a little bit bored. But the IG toy community has always been about trends. Lately though I cant tell if what Im being dished up is a trend or simply a failed algorithm. Either way, I always mix up the tags I follow so I can get some diversity in my feed.

      I hope you can find the inspiration to keep making your beautiful photos. <3

  7. Mary Wardell

    Thank you Shelly for this article – I have not used this hashtag in the past because I’m very bad a remembering to use them period but I will try to remember to use it and look for it in the future. I know that it is easy to feel invisible in the community and on Instagram, especially when you forget to use hashtags.

  8. What a wonderful piece Shelly. I love this hashtag and finding new women in toy photography through it. I, too, find most of my inspiration in the toy photography of women, but that’s a side point of sorts. It seems such an important way to connect and advance women in toy photography and, therefore, women. While a world of equity or even equality for women sounds nice, it doesn’t exist. If it ever does, we might still want such hashtags. Alas, it is far away from us so far as we see in headlines every day and in toy photography every day, too, for that matter. As a man and a white man at that, I feel plenty of unearned advantage all the time. As a gay person, much less so. Building communities within our communities seems so vital and inspiring and relieving. Onward with women in toy photography and thanks for allowing us guys to see and support the amazing work behind the hashtag.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.