An email I got on my blog contact form, and my response. I thought it might be useful info for someone else, so I thought I’d share. Names redacted.
” I’m also a toy photographer. I’ve been taking pics of toys for years but, I just started doing it professionally last year when I purchased my 1st DSLR camera. I’m reaching out to you because I’m seeking advice on how to put myself in a position to get noticed more? As of right now, I’ve been using Instagram as my main platform. Is there any other things I can do? My goal is to get noticed by companies like  so I can do marketing photos. Also, if you have the time, could you possibly take a look at some of my photos and offer any tips for improvement? Thanks in advance for your help.”
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it a million times again. Own what you do. Have confidence in your passions. Just because someone else doesn’t understand it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pursue it or that you should hide it.
I recently read this article. A man rediscovered his childhood love of miniature soldiers during quarantine. With his job back on, and Zoom meetings in full force, rather than let his coworkers see his miniature war build behind him on Zoom, he stored away his passion. But then, he wrote about the experience. Some part of him is proud of it, but he wanted to distance himself a bit. Maybe his coworkers don’t look up his name or read his articles, it’s hard to say.
There’s been multiple articles about people discovering miniature photography in quarantine, and they’re being praised – here for example, and rightfully so, but shouldn’t that open the door for more people to, at minimum, pursue a similar passion?Continue reading “Keep Doing You”
I have been enamored by the work of Chris Shaylor of Empire Toy Works for quite some time now. His intricacy, detail, colors, and so much more, intrigue me. I am so excited to share this interview with you. I hope you enjoy learning more about him, or maybe being newly introduced to him. Let us know your thoughts in a comment below!
How long have you been building your wooden miniature playsets? What led you to the medium of wood, the miniature scale, the business?
I started building wood based playsets sporadically over 20 years ago. It was mostly just random scenes/settings inspired by vintage playsets from the 70’s and 80’s. Fast-forward maybe 10 years later and I started getting this itch to one day create an entire functionally playable city. The idea was there but it wasn’t until I was constantly watching Deadwood while also playing Borderlands that the idea really grew into sort of a mission to prove to myself that it could actually be done. I toyed around with the notion of making a sci-fi version of a roadside carnival. Complete with rickety rides and alien carnies but I eventually decided on a full city sized spaceport as it would give me tons of individual play venues to build the city up. I knew if I kept the universe it’s based in generic or rather vague that could have it inspired by ALL the sci-fi movies and TV shows I grew up watching. As a kid, I would jump from watching Blade Runner on VHS to Sanford & Son to Battlestar Galactica to One Day At A Time to Star Wars to Laverne & Shirley and instead of watching them as individual movies or shows, in my head, I would mish-mash it all together. Alien families trying to pay rent or old cyborg junk dealers being chased by an evil empire. So I wanted to create a gritty sci-fi dystopian complex that still had everyday life settings within it. So instead of ‘climatic hero scenes’ I have details like porta-potties and a med clinic with waiting room magazines and coloring books. It’s those little things that you know probably exist in those big cinematic universes but you aren’t going to see them on the big screen. I took a dollhouse approach to its design so there are countless accessibly open venues to play in. My intention was to make it as detailed as possible but structurally hands-on for actual play. It was after I was halfway done with the city, I named Rotgut Station, that I eventually posted a few pics on several toy collector forums. Requests started pouring in for me to create similar structures as commissioned orders and I started making playsets as a side job. Which eventually led into a full time business.Continue reading “Empire Toy Works”
I’ve been using toys and miniatures in my photography since 2008. My work in this field hasn’t always been good, and sometimes it’s still not. But sometimes it’s really good. I’ve had my work in publications and galleries across the globe and I’m very passionate about the subject of toy photography and its deep roots. Because of this I research and write about toy photography and related subjects pretty often and maybe just maybe, you’ll find this info useful in your own life and work.
Let me know if there’s a topic you’d like to see here. More will be added in time.
– Tourmaline .
*Coming Soon* Historic Miniature Photography of a Different Variety
*Coming Soon* Early Depictions of Toys and Miniatures in Art
On the heels of my ‘Own What You Do‘ post, it only seems appropriate to talk about my bonds formed with photo props (in this case toys).
Each of my pieces is in some way a self portrait, feelings vomited onto the page (or maybe the camera sensor, the miniature scene, however you want to see it.) The items I use to create those moments, especially the ones I use over and over, come to hold a very high importance.
My dining room is my art studio, and by art studio I mean 2 tables, one with 2 dollhouses, the other with a pop up table top photo studio. Underneath is storage, mostly contained in plastic drawers, but some being larger parked toy pieces. Now, picture a small child coming into that space. Are they going to see it as a hands-off artistic space? Absolutely not. It’s a toy room…
While certainly not the only images of note that I created in 2012, I began this blog in July of that year and am going to go with the assumption that the images I chose to share here were some of my best. I have delved deeper in my collegiate and prior photo history, and while I appreciate those images for where they’ve led me, I can’t say they’re good, so I’l stick with showing off the below.
2012 was my junior year of college. I had firmly decided that miniatures were going to continue to be a part of my photographic work, but was largely creating for course assignments. That summer I studied abroad in Italy, and prior to arriving, knew my main photo goal was going to be photographing the street-sold souvenirs alongside their full size counterparts.
2012 was also the year that my dad wrote a book and had me create the cover. Only my second ever book cover, and I enjoyed having relative freedom with how I chose to depict his words.
I recently saw a post on Instagram where someone was explaining that they’ve been making toy photographs. They said something along the lines of “yeah I thought it was a weird hobby too at first.” 1. No they didn’t. No one looks at something in a negative sense then immediately picks it up for themselves. More likely they saw that people were making photos of toys, they thought it looked cool or fun, but then immediately thought people might judge them for participating in it. 2. People will accept or not accept whatever they do or don’t. You don’t have to try and normalize yourself and go “wait, wait, wait, don’t worry, I know I’m weird, and knowing that makes me less weird.”
I get being afraid of being judged. We all go through that from time to time or maybe all the time, but owning what you do can be so vital for your mental health. Be proud of your passions. If other people don’t approve, so be it, you don’t need their approval. Enjoy your life and your hobbies and you will meet like minded individuals along the way. Continue reading “Own What You Do”
Over the years my creative process has changed. As of late, I’ve been focusing on longer form photo series, as well as life outside of my artistic practice. And as I consider where I want my art to go from here, I’m reminded of pieces I’ve created in the past. Lately I’ve been enamored by my 2017 work.
You have to understand that this is not normal for me. I tend to create, be proud of what I create for a bit, then heavily dislike whatever it is for awhile. Eventually I’ll settle back into a level appreciation, but always feel like I could do better. Overall, I think this is a good creative drive, but it’s also a good feeling to legitimately feel proud of what you’ve made.
From changing my artist name, creating book covers, youtubing, being a part of gallery shows and publications, to the beginning of my vitamin deficiency struggle and pulling away from blog challenges and zine publishing, 2017 was quite the year on all sides of the spectrum.
In any case, here I present my favorite images I created in 2017, in order of creation.
Let me know what you think in a comment below. Maybe I’ll do some other look backs soon. :)