Monochrome | Polychrome – An Emotive take on Toy Photography

Tourmaline .

Miniatures serve as iconographic objects. Not real people, places or things, but simplistic versions of such. This allows for abstracted views of reality. The perfect medium for creating visual representations of memories and emotions – abstractions of reality within themselves.

Tourmaline . creates emotive imagery by transforming miniature tableaus through her camera lens. Her images draw influence from her midwestern roots and Florida youth.

Tourmaline . graduated from the University of North Florida in the Spring of 2013 with a Bachelors of Fine Art, concentration in Photography, and minors in Art History and Professional Education. She resides in Jacksonville, FL with her fiancé and cat.


Suspend your assumptions. There can be a life well lived inside your comfort zone. She has carved a den of contentment. Everything tailored directly to her truest

As with the majority of my work, these are self portraits, a found identity, a tailored self.

The setting within Monochrome is 1:12 dollhouse scale where 1 inch is equivalent to 1 foot. Meaning, the figure in these photographs is just over 5 inches tall. The figure is a plastic drawing model. Once I had her in my possession I sourced furniture and accessories to create her world. I painted everything a matching tone of grey to that of her plastic. I had the house built for her prior to her arrival.

The 65 images in this series were taken with 1 to 2 studio lights, aiming for a relatively even, but consistent with home interior lighting, feel. Each was photographed horizontally and at a singular aperture. All this to say, balance in focus, lighting, color tone and composition was created intentionally.

Continue reading “Monochrome | Polychrome – An Emotive take on Toy Photography”

Photo Focus: The Effectiveness of Blur in Toy Photography

I recently picked up ‘Why It Does Not Have to be in Focus: Modern Photography Explained” by Jackie Higgens, on recommendation from a toy photo friend. Within it’s pages, Higgins offers short conclusions on the photographic genres – portraits, document, still life, narrative, landscape and abstract, followed by numerous examples. This allows the book to be read in short chunks, rather than as a whole, if desired.

While, to be clear, in large, the example images in this book are not literally blurry. Instead, they blur the lines of presumed photographic proof. That being said, literal blurred images serve the same means. As Higgins asserts, this figurative or literal blur creates mystery, conceals truth, insists on a different way of engaging with what is before us, and allows for the limits of photography to be challenged.

Continue reading “Photo Focus: The Effectiveness of Blur in Toy Photography”

D.C. in Miniature


Back in December I visited Washington D.C. for the first time ever. The weather was dreary, but I was determined to get some #bigstufflittlestuff images while there, a continuation of my Italy Souvenirs series if you will where I took images of mini monuments in front of their full scale counterparts, the souvenir remaining in focus, while the real, the memory, fades in the background.Continue reading “D.C. in Miniature”

The Numerous Wonders of a Tiny Building

There’s a toy store at our local flea market. It holds a collection of opened and sealed toys, new and old, plaything and collectible. My fiance (oh yeah, I’m engaged now!) collects action figures from time to time, I photograph toys and miniatures, so between the two of us we’ve bought a good bit of items from here.

A few months ago the shop owner stocked some HO scale items – figures, vehicles and buildings. There was a warehouse I admired from the start – very detailed with so many interior pieces. I learned that it had been the store owners father’s. He hand built and painted the building and interior pieces. I wasn’t prepared to drop the cash on it, but admired it at each visit.

This last time around, my fiance snuck off and bought it for me.Continue reading “The Numerous Wonders of a Tiny Building”

6 Ways to Make Money in Toy Photography

I recently answered a question on Quora, and feel that that answer deserves a spot here, so here goes.

How do I make money in toy photography?

There are actually quite a few ways to do this, however no path is a sure or easy bet. And in all honesty, making money from toy photography is not much different to how you can make money from photography in general.

  1. Full Time: You can work for a toy company full time that employs photographers for its advertisement work. Hasbro is a good example of this, although they very rarely post these job openings. Positions like this would require you to apply and provide a portfolio of applicable work.
  2. Freelance: You can work with toy companies on a project by project basis. Mitchel Wu’s work with Mattel is a good example of this. To obtain work with this, you need to have a portfolio of work that would be similar to what a company would want you to make – creative, clean, G rated images that show off toys in a typically colorful, whimsical setting. Then, you can reach out to companies with a professional pitch about what you believe your photography can provide them, or simply hope they find you through your work. In this realm, you can also license your images out to people and brands for a usage fee.
  3. Fine Art/Selling Prints: Alternatively to product based commercial photography, you can go the fine art route. Create meaningful pieces with toys that you submit to galleries with the hope of selling the printed piece for a profit, or to publications that pay artists for the use of their work. In this realm you can also set up an online store to sell prints of your work and attend art fairs where you would set up a booth to show off and sell your pieces.
  4. Stock Images: Toys and miniature images are being used more and more by brand to advertise their offerings. See Goodwill and KitKat for recent examples of this. One way to get into this without going through a brand directly is to sell photos through stock photography sites. Research these to learn about how much you’ll make off your images, and what rights you retain of your photos, before committing to one.
  5. Teaching: If you can garner enough of a niche, and there are people around you wanting to know the craft, you can teach classes online, at conventions, etc. for a fee.
  6. Social Media: Have a lot of followers? Use affiliate links on you blog posts, link your instagram posts to an online store of your work, partner with brands as an influencer.

The reality is, you’ll probably have to use multiple of these options to make money from your toy photography. And it’s going to be a long way coming before you’ll really be able to make a living, if that day even comes. Find a balance between a few of these that interest you and get really good at them. Work hard at those few things and hopefully money will start to come.

Shop my Survival Series and More!

As some of you know I’ve had art in a show at D. Thomas Fine Miniatures.

My 5 part series of HO scale and board game war miniatures was a part of the BadAss miniatures show, and it was such an honor, as the quality of miniature work in that show was spectacular.

From the D. Thomas website:

Tiny art without boundaries.

Defiant, quirky, and slightly uncomfortable.

Welcome to the disobedient dollhouse.

BadAss Miniatures presents emerging perspectives in the miniature arts; an exhibition of original works in miniature form contributed by over 30 artists from across the United States and abroad. Featured works represent a novel movement that challenges the status quo in the miniature art form through the presentation of unconventional ideas and concepts and the quirky, outlandish, surprising use of miniatures. “BadAss” aims to push the envelope on the traditional (rethink the dollhouse!) with an edgy and bold attitude showcasing jaw-dropping, surprising—maybe even shocking—miniature badassery to hit the 21st century.

See more of the featured work here.

I tell you all this today, because some of that art, including mine, is available for sale!

If you need some more minis, or mini art in your life, be sure to check out their store – just click the screenshot above, or find my piece directly here!

Kaleidoscope House

Laurie Simmons, the mother of miniature diorama photography (as further discussed here), known more recently as Lena Dunham’s mom, once had a project called Kaleidoscope House.

The goal of this dolls’ house, that then became a subject of numerous photographs was to modernize dollhouses. This was something that hadn’t apparently been done much at the time. The home was commissioned by Bozart toys, and designed in collaboration with architect Peter Wheelwright. The dolls, accessories and furniture within were also separate artist commissions, with the family being modeled after Simmons’ own (so if you ever wanted a Lena Dunham action figure…).

Laurie Simmons is best known for her voyeuristic, domestic dollhouse scenes and this house fit within that artistic goal quite well. The walls all being see-through leads to a very mysterious voyeuristic feel in her photographic series utilizing the house. The color cast created by the walls is something she also further explored in her 2005 series, ‘The Boxes.’

Kaleidoscope House #4, 2002, Laurie Simmons

This house was made available for purchase on a limited run in 2001 and I’m actually really disappointed I’m just finding this out, as it seems it’s going for $1600 on ebay

To top it all off, you could purchase an art collection for your mini home, complete with little prints from Laurie Simmons herself and her art friends, such as, Cindy Sherman, and Barbara Kruger.

A mini modern house with modern art, made so perfectly for miniature diorama photography (the plexi walls slide open and closed, did I forget to mention that?). What could be better? even ventures to say this is one of history’s 7 most spectacular dollhouses. You can also read an original article about the Kaleidoscope house here.

Djeco makes various dollhouses currently on the market that remind me a lot of the Kaleidoscope house with their bright colors and modern furniture. That, and they’re much more affordable ($77 – 103). Would you want to own the Kaleidoscope or Djeco houses?