This week we are showcasing the work of Robert Whitehead aka @shundeez_official on Instagram. Dive into the Q&A and his toy photography below.

Tell us about yourself. What’s your day job, country of origin, languages you speak, background in photography.

I live in a beautiful city called Cape Town which can be found at the southernmost tip of Africa. I’m a director/editor/photographer in the film industry. I studied fine art and majored in photography. I’m married and have two awesome kids.

How long have you been a toy photographer and what attracts you to this hobby?

I shot my first toy back in October 2013 and never looked back. I really enjoy making toys come to life. Whether they are running, jumping, flying or just bringing a smile to your face. It’s great to reconnect to your childhood through toys, to a much simpler time, and it’s great to share that feeling with others. I guess it’s my escape from the crazy, stressful world we live in. I can get lost for hours while trying to capture the perfect shot. It’s fun to create some light-hearted magic and to share that magic with others and to see how they respond to it. It’s also a great excuse to play with toys again.

There are a lot of toys out there to photograph. What is your favorite toy line and why?

I love pretty much everything when it comes to toys. I love Star Wars Black Series, Marvel Legends, MOTU, and TMNT. But LEGO is definitely my favourite—it’s what got me started on this whole journey in the first place. I love the humour and stories one can create with minifigs. Every part is interchangeable and there are endless facial expressions and accessories to choose from. I also enjoy working in a smaller scale so the setups and workspace needed are much smaller than, say, for a 6-inch figure.

LEGO Thor minifigure with lightning

Where do you get your best photography ideas?

I get my best ideas when I’m half asleep. I can literally see the image in my mind and I have to grab my phone and try to type out my idea in notes, and then I fall asleep again. I have a very long list on my phone of weird things I’ve written down over the years. I also get inspiration from movies, series, comics and from other great toy photographers. I also find inspiration in the toys themselves. Whether it’s an accessory or facial expression, it can spark an idea, and once that idea is in my head I have to get it out. It can actually drive you a little crazy after a while if you don’t get to shoot the idea that’s been bouncing around your head for days or weeks. But once it’s out and you’ve shot it the way you saw it in your mind, there’s nothing more satisfying.

What are the most important tips that a new hobbyist should know if they are interested in pursuing toy photography?

If you are thinking about starting toy photography as a hobby, then my advice to you is just to start. Start with whatever you have, whether it’s a fancy camera or a phone camera it doesn’t matter. The joy is in the fun of creating what you see in your imagination. There’s joy in telling a story through a simple picture and sharing that story. It’s in the challenge of trying to figure out how someone else did it. Time and patience are key. You will learn so many new photography skills and techniques because there are literally hundreds of YouTube videos and tutorials on just about every aspect of photography and Photoshop. It’s an extremely satisfying journey to see your images improve over time. You will make new friends and be a part of the best online community of creatives. It’s all about improving yourself as a photographer and having fun at the same time.

Classic LEGO space astronaut minifigures with MOC Space Invaders