Toy-esque Photographers | Onset of Photography through the 1980s

Photographers who at least dabbled in photographs of toys, miniatures, figurines and the like, a timeline.

Click the names to learn more.

Links and Photographer listing will be updated as I find more to add.

[Last Updated August 10, 2020]

1898 Albert Smith & James Stuart Blackton

Albert Smith and James Stuart Blackton, Raising Old Glory Over Morro Castle, 1898

Continue reading “Toy-esque Photographers | Onset of Photography through the 1980s”

The War Films Made with Toys

“The lesson here, surely, is not that the camera can, and often does, lie, but that it has lied ever since it was invented.”

Mike Dash, Smithsonian

The Spanish-American war began in 1898. Publications wanted photographs, theaters wanted films. The problem was, not everyone could get to Cuba, and even if they could, cameras of the day weren’t very fast, so capturing action was out of the question. So many film-makers took matters into their own hands. The ones here, used models.

Continue reading “The War Films Made with Toys”

My Toy Photos that Didn’t Fool the World

“Never have I found the limits of the photographic potential. Every horizon, upon being reached, reveals another beckoning in the distance. Always, I am on the threshold.”

-W. Eugene Smith

So I’ve been writing all these post about toy photos that fooled the world and I had a thought, what if I made some of my own.

I highly doubted that in today’s technological world my photos would fool the world in the way that these historical photos have. It’s easier to fool the world when the only access to photos is grainy, black and white images in newspapers and magazines. I thought I’d try anyway because I simply wanted to see what came of it.

I’ve made some creature photos in the past, and seeing that fairies and the Loch Ness monster did so well in history, cryptoids seemed like the way to go. I’d already pegged Bigfoot and the Loch Ness monster as photo possibilities, and had an ho scale (2cm tall) Bigfoot, and a plastic Brontosaurus (Loch Ness Monster) at the ready. So now just to decided how to photograph and share the images.

Why wouldn’t there be more creature sightings in a world where animals are out and about more than ever with humans away?Continue reading “My Toy Photos that Didn’t Fool the World”

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”

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”

Photographing Miniature Worlds: The Art of Jennifer Nichole Wells

Still reveling in the fact that I was on WordPress discover back in 2016.

“Viewing the fine art photography of Jennifer Nichole Wells is like falling down a rabbit hole into another dimension. The Jacksonville, Florida-based photographer constructs and photographs miniature dioramas of mysterious and whimsical worlds. Here, she discusses her creative process behind these small-scale scenes.”


Why do you create tiny worlds?

There are many things I want to create, ideas I want to get across, emotions I want to express. I don’t fully accomplish this when I go out and shoot photographs — I need to put more of myself into each image.

Continue reading here – Photographing Miniature Worlds: The Art of Jennifer Nichole Wells

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”