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Emotive Toy Photographer

Posts from the ‘The History of Toy Photography’ category

The Toy Photo that Fooled the World for 60 Years

The Surgeon’s Photograph

“I realised, for the first time, with complete assurance, the picture was not a fake and that the Loch Ness Monster was real and tangible; a living animal -or one that had been real and alive when the picture was taken in 1934.”

-Nicholas Witchell, The Loch Ness Story

The year is 1934, Marmaduke “Duke” Wetherell, a movie-maker and big game hunter, was hired by the London Daily Mail to find evidence of the Loch Ness Monster. He arrived at the lake and found mysterious footprints. After having the casts of the prints tested, it was found out that the prints belonged to a hippopotamus. The London daily Mail wouldn’t let Wetherell live this down.

Livid, Wetherell came up with a plan. He’d give them precisely what they had asked for, evidence of the monster, one way or another.

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Toy Photos of War that Fooled the World for 50 Years

“The most extraordinary photographs ever taken of air flights in war.”

-The Illustrated London News

Wesley David Archer was an American Air Force Pilot in WWI. He enlisted in 1917, but his time in active duty ended when his plane was shot down in October of 1918. The photographs he took while flying are said to be quite good, but those are not the photographs we’re going to discuss today.

In 1927, after a stint as a set designer and modler for productions, Archer and his friend began building models.

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Vogue and Toy Photography

Vogue is a popular fashion magazine. They’ve been around since 1892 and are still going strong. And through them we can draw an easy line from fashion photography to interior design photography to still lives and within, miniature photography.

Harley Weir

“Beauty is so subjective, it’s anything that moves me and I think those things are especially moving if I cant explain why. Enjoying a sunset for example is a bizarre pleasure that only humans seem to appreciate and that makes it so mysterious and so intellectual.”

– Harley Weir

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The Staged Photos that Fooled Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and the World, for Nearly 70 years

“The series of incidents set forth in this little volume represent either the most elaborate and ingenious hoax ever played upon the public, or else they constitute an event in human history which may in the future appear to have been epoch-making in its character.”

– Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Coming of the Fairies

Elsie Wright and Francis Griffiths, Cottingly Fairies, 1917

Elsie Wright and Francis Griffiths, Cottingly Fairies, 1917

In 1917, Elsie Wright (16) and Francis Griffiths (9) would often play in the woods by their home. They told everyone they played with fairies there, but no one believed them. After Elsie begged her father for use of his camera, she was finally granted permission, and her and Francis finally captured proof of their fairy friends. Read more

Horst P. Horst, Classical still life, 1937

Surrealist Figure Photographers of the Mid 1900s

In trying to find the earliest toy photograph, I came accross the amazing work of these two. Their work can’t be part of my early toy photography search as I’ve already found a couple that predate these, but it certainly is something to be noted nevertheless.

Horst P. Horst (1906-1999)

“I don’t think photography has anything remotely to do with the brain. It has to do with eye appeal.” – Horst P. Horst Read more

My Ongoing Search for the Earliest Toy Photograph

The definition of a toy photograph has to be slightly amended when discussing the onset of photography. Action figures didn’t exist back then. However figures and miniatures of all types have been around since ancient times, with dollhouses joining them in the 16th century.

I’ve discussed the Cottingly Fairies of 1917, and the Nymphenburg Figure of 1912 here before, paper cutouts and a decorative figure.  Theres even more examples to be seen in the 1920s and 30s. But I’m certain there must be something even older than 1912, from earlier in photography’s timeline.

As I was telling my mom when I rambled on about this too long the other day, if to delevop the photographic processes seen below, it was quite helpful to take images of still objects because the exposure time was so long, you can’t convince me that they didnt just grab available figures, toys etc. That said, I’d like to subscribe to the definition that toy photography has to say something. It can’t just be a test image of a still object, but I’m keeping an open mind, and we’ll see if we can get there. Read more

My Art Book Shelf

I’ve compiled a list of my art books. Many I’ve used as reference in my posts here, some I will in the future, and others still yet to be perused. Maybe these will be of use in your own art life.

This post contains affiliate links. But I got most of mine from used book stores, so check the shelves of your local stores and you might find something interesting.

Book cover of Alfred Stiegitz Camera Work

Alfred Stiegitz Camera Work

Pam Roberts, 1997

“For 50 issues, Stieglitz carefully gathered, composed, edited, and produced Camera Work, a journal dedicated to a medium more technically established than artistically recognized.” Read more

A Toy Photography Assignment from Focus On Photography

“It’s one thing to make a picture of what a person looks like, it’s another thing to make a portrait of who they are.”

– Paul Caponigro

I was an education minor in college (photo major, double minor w/ art history). I got my temporary k-12 art teaching certificate, but ended up deciding not to persue teaching (that’s a story for another day). In any case, in one of the classes around 2010/11 we had to get a teacher’s edition of a textbook that we would use in the classroom.

I’ve been on this blog kick, mostly because I finally have a ton of ideas for it and it’s still a way of creating, even though I haven’t been able to make myself make photos and resin crafts. This weird work schedule (due to limiting the number of people in the building) and new job have been weighing on me.

So, in pulling out all my photo and art books to use as research and inspiration, I grabbed ‘Focus on Photography: Teacher’s Edition‘ by Hermon Joyner and Kathleen Monaghan, published in 2006.

And within its pages I found a lesson on portrait toy photography! While toy photography can be so much more expansive than portraiture, it’s a really good intro to the medium. And as it’s a teacher’s edition, if you’d like to try the lesson for yourself, you can even give yourself a grade after. Read more