Another week, another challenge. This time around, we want you to tackle a genre of photography you may have never even considered trying out: toy photography. Instagram is chock full of Lego “minifig” enthusiasts, My Little Pony portraitists, and Danbo addicts. This week, we want you to experiment with whatever toys or figurines you can find. Take a lot of photos, edit them in Pixlr using any effects you want (borders, poster effects, and vignetting are always good options), and tag them #pixlr #toyphotography so we can find and feature them.
To make our own #pixlr #toyphotography example, we trolled around our Pier 9 office looking for co-workers who had toys on their desks. Our office is filled with carefree silly people, so we had a lot of toys to choose from. We grabbed Street Fighter Ryu and some plastic dinosaurs and wandered about to find a few scenic spots. We goofed around with a pack of gum in the kitchen, staged a fight on an ironing board, turned a dinosaur into a DJ, and pitted our two main heroes against each other in front of a 3D model of a cityscape. It was tons of fun!
Never done this before? Here are a few simple tips to get started:
- Try to tell a story, however simplistic: You can take a great photo of a toy as if it were a regular portrait, but the real joy in this kind of photography is playing with context and scale. A photo of a squad of green army men on the attack is good, but a photo of a squad of green army men clambering over the top of a stack of syrupy pancakes is much more satisfying.
- Put fantastical creatures in mundane, human situations: Unless you have dioramas on hand to stage your miniatures, you’re going to need to use what you have to create scenes. So why not highlight the fish-out-of-water aspect of toy photography. Photos of Stormtrooper Lego guys washing dishes at the sink are pure gold.
- Try both indoors and outdoors: If you’re only using your phone (like we were), you’ll need to be very cognizant of lighting. Try to stage your scenes in well-lit areas. Using a flash is probably not a good idea. If you don’t have great light indoors, take it outside.
- Experiment: Toy photography is all about experimentation, creativity, and serendipity. If you set out to take photos of toys, don’t be surprised if you really get into it. It’s fun! And it’s a real challenge to make whatever you have on hand work for you. Best of all, the learning curve here is not steep.
If you grab some toys and spend 15 minutes trying this out, we can almost guarantee you’ll have learned something about how to photograph tiny scenes.