Imagine you are relaxing, having a snack and just enjoying the day!
Suddenly you feel a shadow hovering over your shoulder.
What’s this?  What does he want?  He looks hungry to me and I don’t think he eats flowers! Friends pop up to see what’s going on.
Your friends jump in to support you! Sometimes you just need to put on a brave face and meet potential problems head on!
Uh oh – this story has a twist! The caterpillar was hungrier than the bird.
Now it’s back to relaxing, digesting the rewards of the day and enjoying time with friends. Is there a moral to this story?  You tell me 😉

Storytelling with toys

I love storytelling, photography and toys.  Wouldn’t it be nice if I could somehow combine all three?

Until I met Shelly Corbett and started attending her workshops, I never would have imagined that I could have the best of all three worlds.  I hit a creative block in my life. I wasn’t taking photos, I couldn’t think of any new story ideas and toys were just dust collectors, memories that I put away in a box. 

In January 2022 I saw an ad for Shelly Corbett’s “Toy Photography Master Class”. I thought, maybe I need to try something new and the idea of toy photography fascinated me.  After attending the first class, I was hooked.  I felt as if my imagination had been lit on fire, the old me was beginning to come out and I wanted to create more.  So, I signed up for the next workshop, “Creating with Intention”. I was getting in touch with my creative side, writing my artist’s manifesto, learning more about where ideas come from and enjoying every session with my peers.

I kept taking workshops, “Myths, Metaphors and Symbols” focused on where stories originated and how they related to my world.  “Inside Out” helped me develop effective ways to express my feelings through toy photography.  As a coach, Shelly creates a friendly and supportive environment. She encourages us to share our ideas and lessons learned with each other. I particularly enjoyed the behind-the-scenes photos of everyone’s projects. Every session was more than enlightening, our discussions became therapeutic.

That brings me here, to my project from Shelly’s current workshop, “Introduction to Storytelling”.  I understood the basics of writing stories but applying and translating them to create visual representations was a challenge.  During our weekly sessions, I learned the techniques for a new way to share more impactful stories and I loved it. Shelly guided us through character development, story conflict, climax and resolution.  In this story, I combined a toy (bird) with clay caterpillars that I made. I added a few montauk daisies from my yard with artificial grass, leaves and cloud wrapping paper as a background. The photos were taken with my LensBaby Sweet 50 lens.  I hope you enjoy my little photo story and maybe I will see you at one of Shelly’s workshops in the future!

~Deb Hennig (

We want to thank Deb for sharing her work as well as showing how versatile toy photography can be. How do you want to use your toy photography?