The Art of Toy Photography

Toys represent our imagination, our aspirations and our innocent, childhood fantasies. Everyone is still a child at heart. The camera, along with our creativity, will allow us to capture these moments and share it with everyone. 

The challenge of Toy Photography is to make the toy “lifelike”; to remove that “plastic-feel” to it and to make it more human. Most Toy Photographers put their subjects into everyday, mundane scenes. You are limited only by your imagination.

Here are a few tips and notes to help you get started:

Tell A Story – Each toy has its own background story. Be they be action figures, dolls, superheroes or giant mecha (robots). Each product line has a rich “origin” to it. Use these elements to either create thematic or wacky themes. An example would be Star Wars toys interacting with everyday objects in your kitchen… or how about small, green army men having a life of their own and invading your work-station when you leave the office. There are endless possibilities.

Make them more human – Pose and compose your shots as if you were shooting a real human being. You may apply the elements you learned in portraiture to this. You can also combine and experiment with landscape photography and then apply your toys to all of nature’s splendor. You can start in your own backyard using natural sunlight. You can’t get a cheaper or better light source than that.

Don’t be afraid to experiment – The good thing about toy photography is that; there no set rules on how to do it right. As a photographer, you create your own style. 

Learn from others – The Internet allows you to check out the works of other hobbyist toy photographers. It’s also best to interact with the community and ask questions. They’ll be more than glad to offer help.

Share – Use Facebook and have a blog to share your photos. Even if you don’t make money from this, the input and constructive comments that you'll get are more than enough compensation. When someone smiles because of the photo of your toy, that’s a reward enough for you.

Toy Photography Gear and Details

Aside from your DSLR, your toys (heck, you can borrow if you don’t have that much) and probably a light box or some home-made light sources, you don’t need much to get into Toy Photography.

Here are some tips when you do both indoor and outdoor photo shoots:

Indoor – If you can take your flash off camera, you’re in the right track. The best areas inside your home are the kitchen, the living room, your home office or even your garage. Just imagine wild and fun scenes that your toys can make and you’ll have hours of fun. You can also use a simple light box to add drama to an otherwise bland and boring toy.

Outdoor – The outdoors (and natural sunlight) are great for toy photography. You can use your flash to “fill in” when your subject’s back lit. You can also bring a home-made reflector (such as the sun screen of your car) and use that to add more light to your subject. 

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