Toy Photographers Pay Tribute to Dave Towery’s Enduring Vision

“Just as ripples spread out when a single pebble is dropped into water, the actions of individuals can have far reaching effects.”

Dalai Lama

Remembering Dave Towery, I think of the above quote. I wonder if he knew how much he influenced and touched other members of this community?

When I met Dave, oh so long ago at the Seattle Toy Meet-Up, I was impressed by his joy, laughter and playfulness. He was the guy you wanted to hang with. Watching Dave and David talk and laugh about their mutual love of toy photography for the Seattle Interviews will be a memory that stays with me. Walking through a winter park with Dave and Jon Aiken (Dinczar), talking toys and shots is another memory left from better days. His love of astronauts in isolation will forever infuse my own love of the hero’s journey.

In memory of Dave Towery and the ripples his creativity inspired, I’ve gathered a few toy photographers together to share their images inspired by his beautiful and haunting pictures.

Stephanie

When I posted this image in 2018, I thought of Dave. He took childlike wonder and made it into a reality. His imagination knew no bounds, and now when I look back on my gallery, I can see this shot and think of all the good things. 

From Where the Wild Things Are: “Oh, please don’t go—we’ll eat you up—we love you so!” “And now,” cried Max, “let the wild rumpus start!” “And Max, the king of all wild things, was lonely and wanted to be where someone loved him best of all.” “There should be a place where only the things you want to happen, happen.” Photo: Stephanie Baer, @stalagmitethrilla

Bianca

Photo: Bianca Bøø, @missbincaboo
Peace, Photo: Bianca Bøø, @missbincaboo

Matt

D R I F T, Photo: Matt Rohde, @x_captain_kaos_x

Sam

Making memories with Dave, Photo: Sam Valdez, @shamwowdez
Inspired by Dave, Photo: Sam Valdez, @shamwowdez

Oliver

I’ve admired and enjoyed work by many, many fellow toy photographers over the last seven years, but Dave’s images were, and still are, something truly special. He showed us lonely astronauts exploring desolate landscapes, hulking beasts, and mystical creatures unshackled from the laws of physics. His horror and science-fiction icons carry weight and gravitas that transcend their source material. And the scenery and light—God, that beautiful light—establish primacy over even the most recognizable subjects positioned within them. In many ways, Dave’s sublime creations demonstrate where toy photography could go: art over IP, composition over character, pathos and poignance over flashiness and fandom. He may have left us, but his work has the power to burn bright long after we’re gone.

Inspired by @bear__trap (2018), Photo: Oliver Peterson, @oliversees

Marcus

Dave, I’ll miss you. Your creativity, your passion, your curiosity. I may not fully understand why you chose to embark on a journey to the great beyond, but I hope you find what you are looking for. I’ll catch up to you eventually, after I’ve explored this place a little more. Till next time, Dave. Love you, brother.

“The Great Beyond,” Photo: Marcus Excell, @xl_captures

Paris

Dave: I hope you found the peace you were looking for, my friend. You were one of the biggest influences on my photography. All that you put into your images was sensational. You could make different worlds with something as static as a toy. That is art. That was art. I respect and admire you. Your departure hit me hard, Dave. I even got this astronaut because I loved what you did with yours. This hobby allowed me to create alternatives to what happens in real life, relieve stress and meet likeminded people. The problem is, as you showed us, it may not be enough. And if it isn’t, what’s the point of doing it? Is it even important? This community has given me an education. You unknowingly taught me a lot of things and gave me the courage to go out and throw myself on the ground to get a good photo—no matter what others said. But also, today more than ever, you showed me the necessity of keeping in touch with the people who love, appreciate and care about us. I wish you the best, my friend. You will be in my and my family’s prayers. Until forever!

Photo: Paris Gonzalez Aguirre, @weakselfesteem

David

Dave and I talked about this figure when it was announced and I couldn’t wait to make him jealous that I got it first. When I got the fig, I knew I had to do this tribute to @bear__trap.

“Hal, what happened to this planet?” Photo: David Valdez, @fathersfigures

Shahzad

Shelly

I’ve always admired and been inspired by the quiet nature of Dave’s photographs. Unfortunately my chosen muse, LEGO, doesn’t lend itself to the beautiful contortions of the typical action figure. But that doesn’t stop me from doing my best to emulate the quiet solitude seen in Dave’s images. This one will always remind me of you, Dave.

“Drifting, falling
Floating, weightless.”
Photo: Shelly Corbett, @shellycorbettphotography

Thank you, Dave, for sharing your vision with the community. Your creativity will be an enduring influence on the work of so many toy photographers.

Rest in peace, friend.

3 Comments

  1. Joseph Cowlishaw

    Great tributes. I never met Dave, but I was always captivated by his peaceful still shots; they have influenced a lot of my work and will continue to do so. Especially the space shots.

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