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”
Today, August 2nd, is Doll Day and in realizing this I knew I had an interesting opportunity to talk about Hans Bellmer, an artist I recently came across while researching another post to come.
Bellmer was a surrealist photographer in the 1930s. In his work he almost only photographed life-sized dolls he built beginning in 1934 with the help of his wife. The dolls were made of wood and metal skeletons covered in plaster and paper mâché. His work is quite surreal, and also intriguing. It is believed that much of Bellmer’s work stems from his own childhood trauma. The images seem to reveal that pain.
I’ll admit, viewing many make me uncomfortable. This is because I empathize with the state of the doll in each image, and in a way, with the state of mind of the artist. This lends a lot of power to images of toys and dolls. We can see ourselves within these representations and experience emotion along with the inanimate objects.
I’ll leave the googling of other works, and theories up to you, but here I’ve chosen a couple that I find quite captivating.
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.
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.