Photographing toys can be lots of fun. You will learn a lot of things while practicing it. As you are in control of everything, you will not only learn about composition and lighting, you will also acquire some skills of staging and story telling. You don’t need sophisticated equipment to achieve great results. You can do wonders with natural light and a point and shoot camera with a macro option. It all really lays on your imagination and of course your “models”. All you need to do is to grab a toy , a camera and to just have fun. Here are some tips to help you get started with toy photography.
Photo by sⓘndy
Your eyes might not notice the little dust particles on a figurine’s arm or leg. But, after taking the photo it will be obvious on your computer screen and may ruin a beautiful shot. So, before beginning your photo shoot, make sure to properly clean and wipe all the toys you are using. Inspect them thoroughly to be sure no dust is left on them and try to shoot in a clean environment in order to guarantee no dust is cast on them during the shoot. You can always remove unwanted elements in post processing. But, why the fuss if you can avoid it.
Make them look big:
Photo by Ole Houen
Since you are photographing tiny objects, it will be more interesting to give those toys a human dimension and to make them seem bigger than their actual size. In order to achieve such an effect, you can use the simple technique of getting close to your subject as much as possible to fill the frame with it and to take the photo from a low angle to give it that ant’s eye view effect. You can also place your toys in an environment that would help in making them look bigger. For example, you can place them inside a miniature scale model of a building, or a doll house.
Tell a story:
Photo by Yassine Hakimi
Taking simple direct shots of your toys is not as interesting as playing the role of a film director and creating a whole scene where the toys are your actors. It might be hard at the beginning but once you start letting your imagination loose, you won’t be able to stop. A good way to start is by trying to recreate a scene you encounter in your everyday life. After that you can move to the recreation of a movie scene, or the representation of an idiom. Once you grow comfortable with staging and story telling, you will begin innovating and creating fresh and new ideas.
Take them everywhere:
Photo by Yassine Hakimi
I always, have the above gorilla figure with me, everywhere I go. You never know what you might find along your way. So, it’s always a good idea to have a small toy with you all the time, in order to grab the opportunity anytime it might occur. Look out for interesting settings and light that you pass by on the way to work, school, etc. This is where you can give full potential to your story telling skills.
Think out of the box:
One last thought, experiment, experiment, experiment.
Don’t limit yourself with the previous guidelines and don’t hesitate to follow ideas that might seem stupid at first. If the idea doesn’t’ work out, nobody will be hurt, but if it does work out, you will be the creator of a masterpiece. With the huge number of toy photographers out there, only those who come up with new concepts and ideas get noticed.
Here are some inspiring examples of toy photography:
Photo by Hervé KERNEIS
Photo by Stéfan
Photo by sⓘndy
Photo by sandcastlematt
Photo by Fanboy30
Photo by PixelPlacebo
Photo by Simon Pais
Photo by Kyle May
You may want to take a look at the following related posts:
1- 34 Clever Examples of Toy Photography
2- Photographing Toys Using a DIY Light Tent
If you have any “Tips for Better Toy Photography” to add, we’d love to read them in comments below.