It’s my new mission to help Google search results for toy photography questions. Right now, you search this question and get the name of someone that leads to an article that says something to the effect of – “remembers creating his first toy photos in the 80s.”
So, not an answer to the question, but props to that guy for Google misinterpreting and promoting his name.
I also saw someone on instagram once claim that someone invented toy photography in 2010 on flickr.
Toy photography, like every other art medium, or like a lot of things in general, has different people that found the photography of toys useful or interesting at different points in history without really knowing or caring if other people had done so beforehand.
If you want to know instead, who was the first to ever create narrative images with toys, I’d point you to Albert Smith and James Stuart Blackton, or Edward H. Amet’s work from 1898. There may very well be toy imagery from earlier than this date, but this is the oldest I’ve discovered so far. Read more about them here – The War Films Made with Toys
Read more about the history of toy photography here – Toy Photography: How to, Why, its Roots & More! and let me know if you have any burning questions you’d like me to answer about the medium.