It’s happened before, hasn’t it? Life gets hectic, your schedule is jam-packed, and toy photography drops right out of the bucket. Before you know it, the month is almost over and you’ve posted, what? Two photos? Five?

Listen, I’m not judging. The numbers aren’t the point. Maybe you’re a one-photo-a-month photographer, and that’s okay. But you get my point: You find yourself in a situation where you’re not posting as often as you’d like, whatever the exact numbers happen to be.

It happens to all of us, at one time or another. Today I’m sharing my top three tricks for keeping toy photography going strong when life gets crazy.

1. Keep a toy in your pocket (or bag) and use your phone camera

This may be easier for LEGO toy photographers than action figure photographers, but if you want to fit a photo into the small windows of opportunity during your day, you need to have a toy (and camera) with you. Use your phone camera if you can’t manage carrying around your usual photography kit.

If you don’t like using your phone camera, push yourself a little to try something new. Explore the limits of your phone’s settings, find the best light possible, use a plain background or make sure the background is further away if your phone has poor control over depth-of-field (if it doesn’t blur out the background very well).

Exhibit A: Ant-Man

I keep Ant-Man in my purse, because he works really well in everyday situations. I can take photos of him in an environment like a workplace, a retail store, a city sidewalk, or a mall, and he fits right in because he’s supposed to be a small figure in a larger world.

Exhibit B: LEGO minifigures

Most phone cameras handle LEGO minifigures pretty well, and I have carried Ray Tenny, my “Krash Custom” (a custom figure created by @krash_override) around for a long time.

Exhibit C: Playing with scale & forced perspective

Another fun toy photography trick especially suited to phone cameras is holding an action figure (it works for LEGO minifigures, too, actually) and fitting them into the surroundings as if they are life-sized. I often use my Spider-Man figure for this one (because he’s my favorite superhero and it makes me smile to imagine him wandering around in his Spidey suit), although I have also done this trick quite a bit with Kanan from Star Wars Rebels, Captain Kirk from Star Trek, and many others.

2. Use quiet moments (however brief) to plan your toy photography shot

For me, half (or more) of the challenge of toy photography is thinking up what I want to shoot. When life gets busy and I don’t even spare a thought for the hobby, then I’m usually not ready even if I do get a free chunk of time to take photos. So if you’re feeling the lack of photography in your life and wondering how to fit it in, begin with making the choice to think about it when you can: during your commute, while you eat a meal, waiting in line at the grocery store, in those moments before you fall asleep at night.

Some suggestions for your thinking time:

  • What do you love about toy photography? What sort of shot would make you smile and be worth your time?
  • Which figure(s) do you want to shoot? Are they ready at hand, or do you need to dig them out?
  • What environment do you need for your shot?
  • Are there obstacles to taking the shot you want? How could you work around those obstacles?
  • If there are obstacles you cannot reasonably overcome (maybe you want a sunset shot but you’re at work during that time), what are some alternative strategies (maybe you could use an orange or yellow light to simulate the sunset)?
  • How much time do you need? What would you need to have with you to achieve the shot?

3. Create your toy photography scene one step at a time

Sometimes you know exactly what you want to shoot, you know what you need in order to achieve it, but you just don’t have the amount of time necessary to set it all up. Your to-do list starts to feel overwhelming:

  • Look through five boxes of toy storage to find the figure(s) and accessories you need.
  • Wash the dirt off the figure that you used in the mud last time.
  • Boil water to heat the figure’s leg that got bent during the summer heat, straighten it, and cool it down in the right position so it’s straight again. Do the same for the lightsaber and that blaster barrel that looks wonky.
  • Find some red construction paper for the background. Or find the right photo to put on your TV screen for the background.
  • Charge the batteries for your lights.
  • Get the figures in the right pose (10-30 minutes—ha ha ha ha, I’m not crying, you’re crying…).
  • Clean your camera lens, because last time you puffed too much dust for that action shot and now it’s blurry.

Okay, seriously, you probably don’t have all that to deal with. (Confession: Some of the items on this list are very fresh and real to me!) But, however short or long your list is, tackle one piece of it the next time you have a moment.

Just remember: If you don’t even know what you need to take the shot, then it won’t be fresh in your mind the next time you have a few minutes to take the next step. If necessary, write your list in a phone app or on a scrap of paper.

Then tackle it bit by bit. One day you find the figures. Another day you clear the work area for an indoor shot, or you pack the bag for an outdoor image. Remove obstacles one at a time. You’d be amazed what can be accomplished even when your life is totally booked if you are determined and take it one step at a time.

Share your tips for sticking with toy photography during busy times!

The feeling that you’re “not posting enough” toy photos has been discussed on this blog before (and sometimes we talk about being okay with “not posting enough,” especially when the things distracting us from posting are still toy photography related!). Sometimes it’s good to stop and ponder why you pursue this hobby and rediscover the joy of it.

But if you’ve gone through times when you wanted to be doing more toy photography and “haven’t had time,” please share in the comments how you handled it. Did you find creative ways to fit your hobby into a crazy schedule? Inquiring toy photography minds want to know!