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.

Continue reading “The Toy Photo that Fooled the World for 60 Years”

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.

Continue reading “Toy Photos of War that Fooled the World for 50 Years”

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

Continue reading “Vogue and Toy Photography”

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. Continue reading “The Staged Photos that Fooled Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and the World, for Nearly 70 years”

Focusing on Toes

I first published this post on Toy Photographers 6/29/17. I've made a few minor edits here.

I love toy photographs that make me do a double take. The ones that just look so very real. Bringing toys to life is such an intriguing ambition that many of us share and finding new ways to do so really gets me motivated.

The six image narrative project has me thinking about images I’ve created in series in the past. Some I plan and then shoot all at once, or in sequence over the course of a day, week, month, etc. Others develop more slowly. I have an idea I return to, or a figure that turns into a muse. And with that figure and idea I create one image, then some time later another, until a series forms.

At one point, this took the form of melancholy, and in that a doll and her toes. Or maybe the key is that most of my work is self portraiture, and I insist on bare feet in my real life as often as possible. Continue reading “Focusing on Toes”

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 Continue reading “Surrealist Figure Photographers of the Mid 1900s”

Mini Noir Aficianado, Tobias M. Schiel // Empire of Lights

I breifly discussed one of Tobias’ images in my Toy Photography as Art post, but I’ve know of his work for at least a few years now and I truly admire the images he makes with miniatures. I knew I wanted to use his work as representation of modern toy photographers making artistic pieces, and in discussing that with him I felt like he needed a seperate post here for his words and pieces to truly shine.

Here’s what he had to say – Continue reading “Mini Noir Aficianado, Tobias M. Schiel // Empire of Lights”

Toy Photography as Art

“Art is the expression of those beauties and emotions that stir the human soul.”

– Howard Pyle

Photography as art

Photography had been around since 1840, but it was not accepted as art then. The medium was meant for documenting reality, and that alone. But there was a group of artists that saw the manipulation of film in a dark room, or the purposeful creation of a scene, equivalent to a painter manipulating paint. In 1902 Alfred Stieglitz formed the Photo-Secession movement and began work on the corresponding publication Camera Work, that shared the pieces of Avant-Garde artists.

In 1905 Stieglitz and Edward Steichen founded 291, a New York Gallery, that also promoted Avant-Garde work.

Avant-Garde art was considered ahead of the curve, subversive and fell within the period of Pictorialism which ranged from 1885-1915. Pictorialist photographers emphasized beauty, composition, lighting and tonality over documentation of reality. And this period came to the forefront through the Photo-Succession movement.

The Two Ways of Life, Oscar Gustave Rejlander, 1857
The Two Ways of Life, Oscar Gustave Rejlander, 1857

Tableaux Vivants, or still stage productions where actors would make a freeze frame of a popular scene began in 1830, with Tableux photography following in 1850. Oscar Gustave Rejlander, a photographer who worked in this style, is known as the father of fine art photography.

Fast forward, and staged (or fabricated) photography made it’s way forward in popularity in the 1980s. Staged photography, a similar practice to Tableaux, sets a narrative. The practice had existed since the invention of photography, but the name wasn’t coined until the 1980s. Its rise in popularly is owed to Cindy Sherman, Duane Michaels, Joel-Peter Witten, Thomas Demand, and dabblers in toy photography Laurie Simmons and Arthur Tress.

Continue reading “Toy Photography as Art”