I’ve become obsessed with toy photography as a self-portrait. I think my exposure to more mainstream photography through the Lensbaby ambassador program has made me more aware of how huge this particular photography niche has become. Consequently, I’ve been obsessing about how I can use toy photography for a self-portrait. What does this crossover look like? Does the viewer need to be in on the secret? Does it even matter?  

Recently I ran across this quote, which got me thinking even more about the crossover of toy photography and self-portraiture. 

All my images are self-portraits, even when I’m not in them.”

– Nuno Roque

Do I hide behind the toys I use as my subject? Or am I in plain sight the whole time? What would happen if I slow down and really look and contemplate what is often in plain view? What happens if I look beyond the what of an image and contemplated the why of an image?

I realize people get into toy photography for many different reasons: prevalence of pop culture, reconnecting with their childhood, love of toys, stress relief, storytelling opportunities and, of course, a love of photography. But after 10 years as a toy photographer, I’m looking to go beyond even these wonderful reasons. I want to explore who I am. I’m curious as to my own connections to toys. Is it possible to express my ideas in a way that is both personal and universal?

And this is why I’ve started my Creating with Intention Workshops with the challenge: Create a self-portrait. I’ve found that self-portraiture is a great place to start thinking about toys and our relationships to the motives that bring us so much joy.

I’m not alone

Of course I’m not alone in using toy photography as self-portrait. The following images are all taken as a form of self-portraiture.

When you look at these images think about your emotional response to these images. Has your relationship with them changed now that you know this extra layer of meaning? Does the image have more power or meaning for you? Did you linger over the image longer than normal? 

What makes the topic of toy photography as self-portrait so interesting to me is that I’m given a riddle to solve. I’m instantly given another layer of meaning. Sure, I can take any image at face value, but when I put the self-portrait twist on an image, I’m given a glimpse into the soul or mind of the photographer. Sometimes even both!


Later this month I will be joined by Sabrina Perry for a podcast about self-portraiture. We’re inviting you to create a self-portrait. And to keep it toy photography interesting we are giving our self-portrait challenge a twist. We want you to include a figure from the Spider-Man universe in your self-portrait. Because the Spiderverse has expanded into a multiverse, we’re hoping you have enough creative flexibility.

self portrait – Sabrina Perry

You can be Spiderman, Spider Gwen, Venom, old Peter Parker, young Peter Parker—you get the idea. Sabrina and I invite you to create an image through the lens self-portraiture. Once your photos are submitted, we will choose a few of the most interesting images to feature on the podcast and accompanying blog post. To be included for consideration, please tag your images #tp_Iamspiderman so we can find ythem. If you’re worried we won’t see your submission, feel free to tag us, too!

Remember! If you tell us your photo is a self-portrait then that is how we will approach it. There are no right or wrong answers here—only creativity.

I look forward to seeing your submissions!

Fine print

  • Deadline: Thursday, May 20
  • Tag: #TP_Iamspiderman
  • Create a self-portrait using a character from the Spider-Man multiverse (aka Spiderverse)
  • Have fun!