Toytography Magazine - December 2022 Edition

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DECEMBER 2022

WITH TERRY SMITH FROM SIDESHOW COLLECTIBLES

WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE?

HEAD OUTSIDE WITH ADVICE FROM SHELLY CORBETT


A Message from Brian Carr

WORKING WITH COLOR Find the right tone for your image

FEATURED TOYTOGRAPHER Sgt. Bananas (Johnny Wu)

DSLR VS PHONE Is it worth the change

LEARN TO BE A POSER Posing advice from expert poser, Terry Smith

OUTDOOR TOYTOGRAPHY Taking your toys to the elements

TOYTOGRAPHY WALL Themed Contest #ThatsFunny

CONTEST WINNER Themed Contest #ThatsFunny

CONTENTS

TABLE OF

2 3 7 21 25 37 41 43

NOTE FROM FOUNDER


A Note from the Founder As I think back on all the things that took place this year, I can’t help but be thankful for all the new places I was able to visit, all the people I’ve met and the interesting conversations I had. During those visits and conversations, I’ve found inspiration and new ideas in toytography. There are truly some talented people in all parts of the world. That’s what inspired this issue. The toytographers in this issue have in some form or another brought inspiration to others. Whether it be through their photography or their technique, their advice is invaluable. I trust you will find all the information is this issue extremely helpful. Enjoy!

r r a C n a Bri Founder

In this issue We address the real difference between using a DSLR versus a phone camera. We also discuss the joys of using colors in your photos. We then chat with three respectable people in the toy photography and toy collector community. Don't forget to check out our artist wall and the themed contest winner. Editor & Ghostwriter: Sue-Ann Bubacz

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h t i w g n i k r Wo

r o l o C

Color speaks visually, conjuring emotion, mood, and stories quickly recognizable in a single glance. Colors convey trust, fear, or comfort. Combining color and lighting is a long-time cinematic technique for drawing the eye, setting a scene, or recreating the feel of a period or place in time. Emotions like rage, coldness, or confusion are understood using color, and color mixing reveals surprises in learning about complimentary color design. To enrich colors, you can add color lighting to same-color clothing or highlight props (think glowing sword) to enhance and illuminate a color. Like lighting, or in combination with it, color leads the viewers’ eye to what’s central in storytelling with your photography and conveying meaning. For example, you can use color to enhance a hero’s energy, making it bolder or brighter in the image. The color direction also plays a role in giving your photos a specific perspective. Position your light behind the character (usually at their feet and shining upward) to portray a glow of their themed color.

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You can also place color to enhance a specific character’s presence, helping them to appear as more of a hero or villain through your coloring modifications and placement. Light your figures from overhead to add a certain intensity. Play around with bounce cards and the intensity of your color mixes or lighting sources. Often adding a lighting source to offset even a single color theme styling adds a nice balance to your photograph’s look. Plus, having white light as a balance allows you to showcase details in your image without detracting from the color scheme. .

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Unique atmospheres and one-of-a-kind worlds are created using color models. Colors can carry a story and guide emotions. They cause a feeling, evoke a mood, and highlight good and evil character musings. What you can achieve with color considerations in creating sets, scenarios, and storylines is unending. Experimenting doesn’t require a huge budget, either. You can test inexpensive lighting that changes colors or just add filters—even using color cellophane sheets over a light work to do the job. Testing is the key to bringing excitement through color in your toy photography. Contrast through color brings boldness or mutes its impact when washed out.

For some photographer-artists, color is a point of differentiation in their work, sometimes as strong as a trademark. How you use color may become a signature of your style, an angle you bring, or an idea framing your photographic genius. So enjoy play with color and light to bring characters, stories, and themes to life.

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Sgt. Bananas

Johnny Wu

TM: I was going to ask, the Ghostbusters from the movie or "The Real Ghostbusters" from the cartoon? JW: It was both, honestly. It was like one led to the other. But I would say the toys brought me in, and I was like “Oh, there’s a cartoon!” And then you start to fall in love with the characters, because you already like the toy. So, with the Ghostbusters, I had a Staypuft figure, which actually I still have my OG figure. Slimer as well. I remember I really liked Slimer. Maybe it was because of the colors, he was green... Yeah, Ghostbusters was super cool. I’m still a fan to this day. Then, the next property, Ninja Turtles, it was over. That’s what I feel like really just grabbed me, and I’m such a big Ninja Turtles fan. I mean, that original toy line, in my opinion, I grew up with it, so I have some bias from the time…

Toytography Magazine: So, tell us a little bit about yourself.

TM: Is that where the name “sgtbananas” came from?

Johnny Wu: I grew up in Northern California. I was born in ’85, and my earliest memories as a kid usually revolve around action figures. I think some of the earliest ones I remember having as a young, young kid, was some Masters of the Universe stuff. I think it’s funny at the time, you know, being so young, I didn’t know who HeMan or Skeletor was, or anything like that, but I thought the toys were cool and I liked them for that. Just the look of them, it was a cool looking thing to me. And it’s funny now, thinking about where I’m at now and the way I choose to collect and buy things, it’s still the same. Maybe I don’t know the character, but I think it looks cool, especially when you pair it with your vision for photography, right? “That thing looks like it would be fun to take photos of.” You may not know the character very well, but you think you can do some fun stuff with it. Next thing you know, you’re buying it. But, yeah, going back to when I was a kid, I had Dinoriders… I still have that T-Rex Dinorider. I don’t have any of the stuff or any of the accessories. You know, when you’re a kid, you lose the little parts. They might as well not even include those. I lost all the accessories, but I still got the T-Rex. Then, I remember Ghostbusters, and I remember a lot from that one. That was, I would say, the first property where I learned the names, obviously with the cinematic movie, I knew who the characters were.

JW: It is, yeah. That toy line made me an action figure fan for life. I have so many memories growing up with that toy line, and the characters, and then obviously you’ve got the cartoon and the movie. I remember when the first movie came out, I was just…. I don’t know… You know, I was a little kid, 5 years old, and my mind was blown. It’s funny. I feel like that was ingrained in my memories so much. If I’m ever taking photos of Turtles now, I kind of will naturally lean towards that gritty aesthetic of the movie. I loved the grittiness of that movie. It’s so good, the way the Turtles looked with the Jim Hensen suits. That’s the sickest movie to me. To this day, I still watch it. I love it.

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TM: So, when did you actually start taking photos of them? JW: Yeah, so, let’s fast forward to around… I don’t know… Let’s say 2014. I hadn’t been collecting a ton, it was very spotty, like here or there. I don’t know what made me want to do it, but I guess I just kind of decided that I wanted to start collecting the original Ninja Turtles line again and get some of the ones that I never had as a kid and stuff like that. So, I started going to flea markets and local toy shows, just trying to find these turtles that I always wanted as a kid, but never got. Around that time, I had made an Instagram, not the sgt. Bananas one, but I made one, and I was just posting pictures of stuff I would pick up. Like “Here’s my haul from the weekend,” you know, and I was learning what hashtags were at the same time. Like, I would search the TMNT hashtag, just to see, and eventually, I came across toy photography through that. I just happened to see a photo someone took. TM: Through the hashtag “Ninja Turtles” or “TMNT”? JW: Yeah, hashtag TMNT. I came across TMNT toy photo and I didn’t really understand what was happening, but I thought it was really cool. I was like “Oh, that’s crazy!”, because as a kid, you know, you’re playing with your toys, like your imagination is going. You have all these stories in your head, and you’ve got this whole scene going…. I kind of always thought of those things as an adult. TM: Yeah. You’re imagination’s still going. JW: Yeah! But I didn’t have an avenue to really put that creativity towards. Then, I saw that photo, but it didn’t click right away. It was like “Oh, that’s cool.” It was probably… I don’t know exactly the time… Let’s just say 4 or 5 months down the road from initially seeing that photo, one day, I just had an idea. It was enough to get me to say “I should set something up like that photo I saw.” It was Mondo Gecko grinding down a Tech Deck rail. It was my first toy photo. My first official one, where I tried to set something up. I had this apple box I put it in, because I didn’t know what a diorama was. TM: Oh, LOL! JW: It was really funny. It was very, very much in the beginner stage, but the idea was there. I had a lot of fun setting it up. I remember I taped him to the rail... Then I had a Ghengis Frog in the background, cheering him on.

TM: Wow! JW: From that day, because I had a lot of fun doing that, I just thought about it. “Well, I’ve got all these toys, and they all have themes.” Like, there’s so many Turtle variants. There’s so many different types of Turtles in that original line. You know, I have all these ideas, and I think “I should just keep doing this.” So, I did. I just feel like, every time I got an idea that was inspiring enough, I would just go do it. I was just using my phone, back then. I didn’t know anything about photography at all. I was having a ton of fun, and my girlfriend, actually, is a photographer. She had a DSLR, and eventually, after I was doing it for awhile, she kind of tried to persuade me to use the camera. And I was like “Eh, no. I’m good.” You know, I could just pack a bag full of toys and just go to some spot, and have my phone in my pocket, which is my camera… It was just real easy for me to grab my phone, take a photo. But then I remember this one specific time, where we were at the beach, and I was taking some photos and she had her camera. I had something all set up, I took a photo with my phone, and she took a photo of it with her camera and she showed me. TM: That’s it! JW: You know what it was? You know, what sold me was the depth of field. TM: YES! JW: I didn’t even know what it was! I didn’t even know what depth was, but I thought it looked good. I was like “ Hmmm… That’s interesting. It looks like… I don’t even know how to describe it, but it’s cool!” Ha-ha!

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TM: Yes! Right! JW: So, that day was the eye opener to me. I was like “Oh, I should try to take photos with this camera, because it DOES look better.” So, I went down the whole road of learning how to shoot with a DSLR, shooting manual, understanding the shutter speed, the f-stop, the ISO, and stuff like that. Just trial and error with that kind of stuff, and simultaneously trying to shoot different properties, like the Star Wars Black series. At that time, it was in its first wave, so they had a sand trooper, I think it was Darth Maul… TM: I think there was Luke in the pilot outfit? JW: Yep, R2-D2... So, I started buying some of those, and I started shooting those. And, at the same time, I started discovering more and more toy photographers, seeing more of it, seeing different styles, techniques, and this whole thing grabbed a hold of me in a crazy way. I already loved… you know… lifelong action figure collector and fan, I was quickly becoming a fan of photography, and those two things clicked, and it was over. I was in in at that point. I was super obsessed, and I was like “This is the creative outlet that I’ve been waiting for, that I wanted, that I didn’t know that I needed.” I think that my obsessive personality was like a driving force in me, just trying to absorb all the techniques and knowledge I could. And back then, 2014 or 2015, it was a lot different than it is right now. Even though it's really not that long ago, there were far less people, and it was just a different time on social media, in general.

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I mean, I’m not saying anything negative in terms of, like, people weren’t sharing, but people were still figuring stuff out. I mean, the things you see today with practical effects… People were still figuring that out back then. At least, from what I was seeing on social media. Yeah, a lot of trial and error with that kind of stuff. You know, you’d see someone just having a figure suspended in the air, just jumping, or flying, or whatever. I didn’t know how they were doing that. I remember asking… I’d see a photo, and I’d ask my girlfriend, “How could someone do this? How is this possible?” She was like, “Oh, you can just photoshop.” And I didn’t even really know what photoshop was. So, that was another thing, I have to learn what photoshop is, what’s capable in photoshop, and obviously, it almost seems like it’s limitless capabilities with photoshop. You can do so many things, if you really want to, the possibilities are endless. So, learning and discovering all these things, just going down all these different rabbit holes, and becoming more and more obsessed with the craft at the same time, that’s never stopped, even to this day. Ha-ha! TM: When it comes to your creative process for a photo now, when you have an idea for a shot, what’s your thought process from the time you have the idea to the time you execute it? Do you think “Ok, this is going to require me to build a set” or “I have a location I go to”… What’s your process in that?


JW: Yeah, I think it’s probably both of those, depending on the idea and all that stuff. I would say, back then, in the beginning stages, I think I was way more focused and obsessed with learning how to do practical effects. That was really the driving force, and inspiration as well, to take the photos. It was like “Oh, I want to take a photo with dirt flying or debris.” Then it was like “Oh, how do I do rain and make it look like it’s raining in a photo?” Then it was snow, then it was fireworks, then it was smoke…. I even went down the road of doing blood splatter effects for awhile. TM: So, how did you come up with that stuff? I mean, did you see someone else who did it, or were you just experimenting with different things? JW: Yeah, a lot of times I would see someone else do something, then I would be inspired by it. Then I would try it on my own, you know. I guess, again, it’s going back to the whole “information in a different time”. Back then, I don’t know if it was just me having too much pride to ask someone… I would just see something, and I wouldn’t be comfortable asking someone, so I would just trial and error. I did that for a long time, but I will say, when it comes to practical effects, depending on how you’re trying to capture them and make them look, there is a slight formula there where you can kind of copy and paste it across… For instance, you have dirt and debris, right? You want to have a fast shutter speed for that. Again, depending on what look you’re going for, but generally, I feel like you want to have a fast shutter speed. So then, you can kind of apply that to the other effects, too. Whether it be rain, if you want the rain to look real small and not lines, faster shutter speed. You want snow to have almost like tiny specks or particles, faster shutter speed. So, I realize that, ok, this is kind of a formula I can apply across the board to see how it looks, then if I’m going for a different look, adjust accordingly. TM: So, do you actually pour water? Pour the rain? JW: Ha-ha! Yeah, in the beginning, I was just in my backyard, and I would use the garden hose. I had one of those nozzles where you can change it. So, I would literally just experiment. I would go through each one, and I would do it, and I would see the look of it, and then, I guess, I would just decide which one I liked.

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I think that also helped me to differentiate the shutter speeds and how it looks different coming from different directions. I just tried all kinds of things. I literally would be like “I’m going to do this,” and I would just try all types of different angles, different times of the day… I mean, at this point in time, I was shooting outside 100% of the time. TM: Oh, ok! All in your backyard, or were you going to different locations? JW: Different locations, but yeah, a lot of these initial, practical effects experiments were in the backyard. Where I live, I live in Northern California right outside San Francisco… So, in my town, fireworks are legal. We have the fireworks stands. This one year came around, and I was like “I want to try to use fireworks in a photo.” I did, and I was like “Ooh!” That was a whole other practical effect that unlocked in my tool bag. It was super fun. You can do all kinds of war looking explosions and do fun things. TW: Yeah, when we spoke with SirDork for our previous issue, he was saying it's what got him into it. He said he saw you using the fireworks and that’s how he got inspired to do it. But the same thing I told him, I like that effect, and I would really like to use that, but the majority of the toys I take pictures of are Hot Toys figures.

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JW: Oh, yeah. You gotta be careful. TM: Yeah, with those materials, I don’t want anything to catch fire. Ha-ha! JW: No, I know what you mean. I’ve done that with Hot Toys. I’ve done fireworks with Hot Toys. I definitely… Uh … You know … burned a little … TM: Oh, my gosh! LOL! JW: Nothing crazy. I didn’t ruin the figure, but there’s obviously the risk. I understand you don’t want to do that. I totally get that. I even had, when I was first experimenting with fireworks, I had this black series storm trooper that was already kind of beat up. So, I just used him as a test dummy. Literally, I might just light the firework on him sometimes, just to see. Going back to your initial question, the way that I think about ideas is there’s a story there, and I start thinking about all these variables within the story. Who is this character and what’s his personality? Where are they going to be? Why are they going to be there? What’s the time of day? In turn, what’s the light going to be like? Is there going to be another character? It’s all these things, and I’m just building this in my head as the initial thing comes. Then I’ll start deciding…


Ok, for instance, if it was a Ninja Turtle I was using, let’s say I got Raphael and I want to have him in a sewer. Ok, environment’s decided. Then what? He’s in a sewer. What’s he going to be doing? Then I’ll figure out whatever it is that I want him to do, hanging out there, or he’s actually fighting something, or whatever. Then, ok, what’s the pose? What kind of pose is he going to be in? Is he fighting in a dynamic pose? Or, is it after he’s already beat some foot soldiers up, and he’s just standing over them? I’ll go over all these things until something kind of sticks out in my mind that sounds good. Then, I’ll move on to the next thing. So, he’s going to be standing over a foot soldier. He already beat him up. What is it going to look like in the sewer, when this is going down? TM: Speaking of the sewer… In your past images, I did see that there was a number of things that you did outdoors, but it looks like a lot of your recent photos have full on set pieces. Are you building those, or are you having someone else do that?

TM: Right! I had the same feeling when I was looking online at a particular site, and I was like “Oh my God, a dumpster! They have a dumpster!” JW: Yeah! Exactly! That feeling right there! It’s super powerful for people like us that do this stuff. TM: Right! Those little things that no one thinks about. But the thing is, when you’re taking your shots, it’s really just background and no one’s really going to notice it. But in their subconscious they do, because it pulls them into it. I have the Hot Toys Christopher Reeve Superman, and I think earlier this year, I found a 1/6 scale phone booth. I was like, “Oh yeah! I definitely have to buy this!” I found out it had a light on the inside, so I could make it look like he’s changing and stepping out of the phone booth. Those are the kind of things that normal people doing really get excited or think about, but they just don’t understand. It adds to the photo and makes the whole thing more believable.

JW: Oh, yeah! No, I wish I had the talent and patience to jump into diorama building, but I rely on very talented diorama makers. I commissioned over the years as my ideas and inspirations shifted, I leaned more towards having these tailormade sets. I guess I realized the value in having these perfectly scaled pieces. In the story telling aspect, it just works so well. I’m doing it for that reason, but I’m also becoming a crazy fan of all these people. It’s like I’m collecting that stuff like I’m collecting toys. I’ve become such of a fan of the dioramas and the props, where it’s like I’m just as obsessed with that now. It's kind of hilarious in a sense, because I get so excited about a 1/12 scale garbage can. Or even just 1/12 scale garbage!

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JW: Yeah, it’s like putting a bow on the story, right? You can take a great photo of just him, and yeah, that’s cool, that’s fun. But then you add something like that to it, you add another layer to the person’s personality, in a sense. Everyone that knows Superman, knows that he changes in a phone booth. He does that. The casual observer is going to see that and say “Oh, he’s even got a phone booth!” It just takes your storytelling and the photo up a couple levels and makes it that much more fun for you. And inspiring. You get a look at that and you just can’t wait to start setting it up! I think that’s one of the things that really draws me to the props and the dioramas, it’s the way that it makes me feel. Secondly, you see these pieces, these props, these dioramas that these people are making and they’re so good. They’re so realistic, and the attention to detail that they put into them…. Like, you mentioned your phone booth had a light. That’s another thing, because you can get the extra light that comes from that. Like, maybe you can just light it with that. Maybe you don’t even have to use lights, right? That brings a different vibe. There are so many cool things about that stuff, and I think that’s the main reason why I’m shooting the way I am now, and I’m so obsessed with that stuff. It’s not to say that the way I was shooting 4 or 5 years ago is gone. It’s just the way I approach ideas and stuff now is different. TM: Yeah, you’ve just kind of evolved with your technique. So, how many dioramas do you own now? JW: Woo! Uh… My first answer would be “Not enough.” TM: LOL!

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JW: You know what? I’ve never even counted. I’ve got so many...I don’t know if you knew this, but I work for Super 7, the toy company. TM: Oh! No, I didn’t know that! JW: Yeah, I got a job as their in-house photographer over two years ago now. So, it was before the pandemic happened. It was like a dream job for me. I was already all in on the toy photography. I love this stuff so much that I would love to do it for a living somehow. That actually happened, which I can’t believe. I’m so stoked about that. Where I’m going with that though, is that working for a company like Super 7 that has so many different licenses and properties and characters that they make, I want to have all the environments at all times. Perfect world, you know, but obviously space is a huge factor, too. When I started working for Super 7, I probably had, maybe, 3 dioramas, total. I think I’ve, at least, quadrupled that number. TM: Wow! JW: The past two years, I really made a decision. I really want to focus on getting more dioramas, props, and just kind of feeling out the type of characters that I love to shoot, and keep going back to time and time again, and get those kinds of environments to suit them. So, I mentioned a sewer. Obviously, with the Ninja Turtles, you have to have a sewer for them. So, anything that you want to have, and then just a generic city environment is great for a ton of characters, honestly. Spiderman is the one that comes to mind in the city. And Superman again, he’s in the city. Batman… I bought dioramas that were made specifically for… Like, I bought a dock for Popeye. The Mezco Popeye. TM: Yeah! I have that actually. JW: Amazing figure. Super fun set with all the cool accessories. Like I was saying in the beginning, maybe I don’t know the character too well, but when I see a cool action figure… I mean, I know who Popeye is. Most people know who Popeye is, they’re familiar, but I wouldn’t say that I was a crazy Popeye fan. He was cool and all, but seeing that figure, I was like “Oh, that’s great,” you know, as a toy photographer. Ideas start to creep in, and you’re like, “Hmmm…” So, I got the figure, and I was like, “Man, this thing is amazing. This thing is super cool.”


TM: Yeah! The clothing, and all the accessories… I mean, smoke for the pipe. JW: Yeah, it’s so sick. And just like the general weathering on him, he just looks like he’s been at sea. He just looks like he’s had a rough life. It’s really cool. The figure’s so cool, I basically decided… Kind of like what I was saying with the phone booth, with your Superman and the phone booth. You can get a great photo of him on his own, with just studio lighting, or something like that. Those are great, fun shots to do, too, where you don’t have to build an environment, you just rely on cool lighting. TM: Yeah, like a spotlight photo, which I’ve done. JW: Yeah, those are cool photos to do. But with this one, I want the environment that I could see him living in, so I commissioned a dock diorama from a, now friend, a talented diorama artist called Terrafoamer. So, he made this dock modular, so I could position it different ways, and he made these wooden crates to go with it and included other nautical themed accessories. That was the first time that I got a figure and had something specifically made. While it was for Popeye, I can use it for so many other characters. That’s the beauty of dioramas. Maybe you buy something with a specific character in mind, but over time, you’ll learn to use it in different ways. You wouldn’t be able to think of it right off the bat. You’re looking at it one way, then all of a sudden, down the road, you can shoot this character in it, which doesn’t even fit in that environment. But the way that you look at it and start to utilize the diorama over time…. And I think that working at Super 7 has made me do that, because they make so many different characters and properties. I don’t have set pieces that will work with all these things, but I had to make it work with what I had. It was a good exercise for me. I had to come up with something that looks like this, but I don’t have that, so what can I use that I have available to me to sell this idea?

But when it’s your job, and you still have to get some photos done… I’ve definitely sat here… I work in my garage, and I’ve definitely sat here and said, “Man, I have to take photos of this thing, and I don’t know what to do.” But I always get it done, you know. It was a good training exercise for me, in “work” work and also in my “personal” work. TM: Did you seek Super 7, or did Super 7 discover you? JW: So, the way it happened was I had met a, now, coworker at Comicon one year, the year before the pandemic hit. I went to the Super 7 booth, and I was buying a T-shirt, and I was standing in line. I met my, now, coworker, and he actually knew who I was through my book. We started talking, and I followed him on Instagram that day. We kind of kept in touch, here and there, after that. Fast forward to around December, he hit me up and was like, “Hey, I don’t know if you’re looking for a job, but we’re looking for a photographer.” At the time, I had been laid off from my previous job, so it was perfect timing. I went in for an interview, and I think, out of all the interviews I’ve ever been on for a job, it was the coolest one. TW: Haha! JW: I go into the headquarters, and I don’t know… It’s crazy. There are toys everywhere. TW: Yeah, that’s the dream, man.

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JW: Yeah. There’s a life size RD-D2 statue, and the room that I did the interview in had toys all over the place. It was just the coolest thing. And it was the most laid back, chill interview, too. I wasn’t nervous. It felt right. So, I walk around the office, and I see everyone’s desks, and there’s just toys all over. It just really felt… TM: Like you were home, right? JW: Yeah! 100% that! This is where I belong. These are my people. Haha! And at the time, I got to see wave 2 of their Turtle Ultimate figure. I got to see the prototypes of Shredder and Mutagen Man. You know, big Turtle fan, and getting to see that was super cool. That day, I was like, “Oh, I want to work here so bad.” I never wanted a job so bad in my life. Jobs I’ve had prior to that were just jobs. You know, they paid the bills. TM: Did you rush home and tell your girl? JW: Oh! I remember I texted her when it was over. I also remember I texter her, “Man, they said the starting pay was this much!” Haha! I was going crazy! I was through the roof, right? So, I ended up getting the job, and my first day was just crazy. I was just playing with Ninja Turtles on my desk, and I was like, “This is what I’ve wanted my whole life.” Haha! Comparing it to old jobs, there’s just nothing like it. Cool people who are all into toys, and cool toys, too. It’s like, I would buy this anyway. TM: It’s that the same way you got onto Tested? How did you get onto Tested?

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JW: Tested happened prior to me working there, but it wasn’t that long before. The way that came about… I guess I should preface this by saying, I’ve had some really amazing opportunities. Yeah, so Norm, from Tested, he had followed me, and he had reached out through Instagram. TM: From what I can see, Norm loves toys. JW: Oh, yeah! He’s a collector. He’s into action figures, and miniatures, and stuff. He’s a super cool dude. So, he had reached out, and asked if I would be into filming something. To be honest, at the time, I wasn’t even aware what Tested was. TM: Oh! Do you at least know Mythbusters? JW: Yeah, I knew of Mythbusters, but I didn’t know there was a connection there, yet. I looked it up and saw Adam Savage, and I was like, “Ok! I know who that is.” So then, I was like, “Oh… This is a big thing.” So, we spoke back and forth, set up a time and date, then we planned to have him and a filmer come out to my house and film a tutorial, basically. I think the first one was how to do rain effects. I was in my house, and it was really cool. It was great. It went well, and the first video we filmed how to do the rain and, I think, the snow, and we had planned to do two other videos after. The next time, I went to their studio and filmed there. TM: I think it was that one with the Tie Fighter?


JW: Yeah, it was the one with the fireworks and the skeleton. But I think the last one was the dock I spoke about earlier. So, all those videos… It seems like social media changes every few months. Now, if you want to get more engagement, you have to do this. Back then, at that time, you could still kind of get organic engagement. So, we did these videos. The first one, I remember when it dropped, my Instagram was blowing up, because Tested had so many subscribers, right? So, my Instagram was just going off. I would refresh it, and it would say 20 new followers. But I got quite a lot of new followers from those videos, and I’m very thankful for it. It was a cool side effect of doing the videos themselves, people discovering my page and my photography. I don’t know how many people since then have messaged me saying they started doing it after they saw those videos. It’s inspiring for me. I think, if you’re just starting out on Instagram, and you’re trying to build a following, you see these accounts that have a lot of followers. It can almost seem like they’re unreachable, in terms of speaking with them. I’ve always said this, and I don’t say this just because it seems like the right thing to say, I really mean this, even though I have a “larger” following, I’m still just like everyone else. At my core, I just care about toys. At my core, I love to take pictures of toys. I would be doing it if I had 5 followers. And I did do it when I had 5 followers! Haha! I mean that, though.

There might be some people that are reading this, and are like, “Well, I reach out to him.” It’s hard to keep up with messages, too, every day. But I really am just like everybody else. And, honestly, the way Instagram is now and how you get engagement, yeah, I might have a following, but my engagement is at an all time low, because I don’t play by the Instagram rules. TM: So, a famous youtuber challenged himself to upload a video every day for a year. So, I was like, “I’m going to do that.” I’m going to take a picture and upload it every single day. So, I did it for Instagram at the beginning of 2020, and I think I had, maybe 30 or 40 followers when I first started. I think, by the end of the year, I had close to 1,000. And that was the thing, I was trying to get those likes, and trying to get those followers, but then, after a while, I felt like I was jumping through hoops trying to get noticed on Instagram. Then they changed it to where you have to do videos just to be seen. I was like, forget it, because I’m not going to do any kind of videos. And it seems like some of the photographers that were trying to do that, they put more videos showing how they did the photo, rather than me actually seeing the photo itself. After that, I came to the realization that I just love taking pictures of toys, but at the same time, I was wondering why aren’t more people aware of this? I would talk to people, and they would be like, “I didn’t know toy photography was a thing.” On top of that, when I take pictures of my toys, I try to be as realistic as possible, so you actually have to take a second look, like, “I didn’t know that was a toy. That looks like a real person.” So, that’s just really been the thing now, just going for the passion of taking pictures of toys, and not trying to “spin the wheel” when it comes to that other stuff.

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TM: So, I know you love the Ninja Turtles and all that, but out of all the stuff that you have, do you have one toy that you always go back to? That you always take photos of? JW: Woo! Haha! I know you know that’s a tough question! To have to narrow it down to one is like… I don’t know… How about I give you a few, though? TM: Ok! What’s your top 5? JW: Ok, ok. So, I would say Popeye, the Mezco Popeye. Iron Giant, the Mondo version. Love that figure. It’s not like I shoot him all the time, but I feel like he’s one of those characters that, when I do shoot him, I’m always having a lot of fun, and I’m reminded of why I love the character so much. I’m cheating a little over here, because there’s 4 of them, but the Neca movie Turtles, the 6” ones, those are some of my favorite figures ever. I’m a Turtle fan, they look straight out of the movie, they look great when you photograph them, they come with a ton of accessories, they’re just really fun to take photos of. Ok, I’ll give you one more. A more recent thing that’s come out, that I find myself having a lot of fun with, is the Mezco Vapor figure. I don’t know if you’re familiar with that one. He’s like a little graffiti artist. He’s their own IP. He comes with a grip of different heads with different expressions. There’s a blue one, then there’s a burner edition where he comes with a white face. When I first saw the figure, I was like, “Eh… Looks ok.” I didn’t even buy it. Eventually, I saw people taking photos of it, and I was more into it. I was like, “Ok, it looks pretty good,” then I got one.

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Then I was like, “Oh, this is really fun, actually.” I love when that happens, when a figure, a toy, a character inspires me in a way that I didn’t see coming. You know, graffiti art is great, but I don’t really follow it or anything like that. This particular character being a graffiti artist is not something I’m necessarily into, but, man, is it fun to take photos of him. All the accessories are great, and the expressions… It’s a cool character and I just love when that happens, when a character that I just don’t see coming and that thing is fun to shoot.


TM: That reminds me of Miles Morales from Into the Spiderverse. It’s kind of that same vibe and everything. He was all about doing graffiti, and the clothes look pretty similar. JW: Yeah, that’s a good comparison. I really love that Into the Spiderverse movie and Miles Morales. Those are some of my favorite figures to shoot, too.

TM: For the people just starting out, is there any advice you can give? Where should they start? Or what kind of techniques should they start using that can help them improve on what they’re doing?

TM: So, you said you had a lot of people asking you questions. Out of all the things you get asked when you’re doing your photography, let’s say you’re outdoors and someone sees you, or someone sees you online, what’s the number one question people tend to ask you, when you’re doing your photography? JW: These days, I would say the most common question I tend to get is generally geared towards equipment. TM: Oh, ok. Like what kind of camera you use? JW: Camera, lens, lighting… Not in order, but those three. Usually, I’ll get asked that pretty frequently. TM: So, What kind of camera do you use now? JW: My current camera is a Sony A7R3. That’s the camera body. The lenses that I use are a Sony 90mm macro, a Sony 50mm, and a 35mm. I have those three. For a long time, I only had a macro. I used it for everything. I would say, when people ask, what kind of lens is good for this, really the best one is the one that you have. But if you can, and you’re thinking about investing, I would definitely recommend a macro lens. It’s definitely great for miniature stuff or just figures. It’s great for that stuff. TW: I was kind of surprised at the lens that you mentioned, because whenever I’m trying to do closeups, I do have a 35 macro. But sometimes, when I’m trying to do my outdoor shots, I actually invested in a 70-200. JW: Oh, nice. Yeah, that’s a big lens. TM: The depth of field on that is just… It is so good. JW: Yeah, the 50 that I have is a 1.2. The depth that you get on that thing is great. Yeah, a 70-200 is super nice. I wouldn’t mind having one of those. Before I had a Sony, one of my good friends… I shot with Canon, and he had a 70-200 that he basically just let me borrow forever. I shot with 70-200 for a long time, and I love that lens. Great lens.

JW: I think my answer for this is always the same. It’s kind of cheesy, but first and foremost, have fun. You should always have fun. I think, circling back to what you were saying about how you were doing a picture every day for a year, how you were trying to reach more people, then at a certain point, you began to think, “Oh, I’m just doing this for this reason,” and it started to become less fun. Even now, fast forward, and if I’m hearing you right, you just reached a point where you’re like, “I’m doing this. I’m just going to do it, and that’s that.” That’s me, as well. It’s easy to get caught up in the social media game, in trying to be seen. Getting likes and comments and shares, that’s cool. It’s nice. But my advice to a beginner, or someone starting out, is try not to put more value in that, than the reason you started doing this. It should be fun, right? Enjoyable. Exciting. Those are the things that are going to keep you doing this, keep you inspired, allow you to do this longer, and have a better time while doing it.

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If you’re just focused on the clout chasing of it all, then good luck, honestly. Haha! I really don’t mean to sound condescending in saying this, but good luck. It’s a vicious game that you’ll play. I went through periods of time where I really was focused on “I want to have this many followers.” Or “I want to work for this company.” I was really focused on, in my opinion, the smaller picture. Then I realized I forgot why I started doing this. Once I came back down to earth, I was like, “Oh yeah, I just love doing this.” I love taking pictures, and I love collecting toys, and that’s it. It’s just those two things that have always been there, even though I may have lost sight of it for a period of time, I came back and it’s more than ever now. Those are the most important things that allow me to be the best version of me. That is what I would try to convey to someone that’s starting out. This is a really fun thing to do, you’ll meet a lot of cool people, and you can have so much fun with it, and just try to make them see that once you’re on social media, it can be very easy to get caught up in the bs of it. Try me, we’re all human. It’s hard. I’m definitely still like, you post a photo, and you really like it, and you might have expectations and think, “Oh, I think this is going to do well,” and then it doesn’t. TM: Yeah, then you're upset because you didn't reach your goal. JW: Yeah, and again, we’re all human. TM: Yeah, you should be posting it because you want to. JW: Yeah, do it because you want to do it. And I always say this too, the best part about doing this stuff has already happened by the time someone is seeing it on my Instagram. My creating the photo, setting it up, all that stuff is why I do it. That’s the fun part. That’s what I love to do. So, by the time you’re seeing it, as in the audience or the followers, I’ve already had my fun with it. TM: Haha! Right! JW: And all the rest, the comments, the shares, blah blah blah, that’s a cherry on top, but it’s not needed. And if you can really believe that, you’re free. You’re good. You will have more fun with it than you would otherwise.

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TW: And interesting enough, you got discovered by Tested and Super 7 when you weren’t looking for it. You were just taking photos. You weren’t going to Comicon looking for work. JW: Yeah! And I did. The first year I went, I thought, “I want to go to all these companies. I want to make connections. Hopefully, something will happen.” I mean, I got a freelance job here and there, but nothing substantial. Nothing like getting a full time job. Yeah, to your point, I wasn’t looking for it, and then it came. Things are like that, right? TM: Yeah, that’s true. They happen when you’re not looking for it. One last thing, before we wrap up, can you tell a little bit more about your book? JW: Yeah, for sure! So, going back to the amazing opportunities that happened throughout my journey with this toy photography stuff, it starts with one crazy thing happening to another. The way that the book came about was through an interview that I had with The Wall Street Journal, which, sounds fake. (LOL) Yeah again, it’s like amazing opportunities, and I’m sitting here like what the hell? (LOL) This guy reached out, he worked for The Wall Street Journal, he interviewed me, and obviously the reach that they have over there… The result of that interview, the publisher of the book, Dynamite Entertainment I believe, reached out and that’s how it got started. They asked me if I would be interested in doing a book, I said yes, then got to it. Making the book was a whole process. I mean, I learned a lot. I never made a book before.


A lot of learning experiences, throughout making that book. As artists, you tend to be your own worst critic, right? You’ll look at stuff, and you’ll be the first one to say, “No, I can do better.” I’m very much an example of that, so the book, if I look at it now, there’s a lot of things about it where I kind of cringe a little bit. But ultimately, overall, it’s something that I’m proud of doing, proud that I did do, honored that I even have it. It’s a great thing, when I look back, yeah, I really did it. I made a book. It’s wild. The way the book is formatted is really progression based, so it kind of starts out at the beginning of my toy photography journey, then it kind of leads… I mean, at the time, because this was back in 2018, I think. So, it was awhile ago. My work was completely different back then. So, I look at it now, through my eyes now, and I’m like, if I made a book now, it would be completely different. Which is cool, too. I think it was a period of time where that’s where the book was meant to be. If I made one now, it would be how it's meant to be now. But I would take my learning experiences from that book and apply them, and maybe there would be things I would do differently. If I do make another book, which I do think would be a fun idea, I would like to at some point. I have some knowledge and tools from making that first one. TM: And more dioramas! JW: Yeah! Definitely more dioramas.

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DSLR

PHONE

With today’s phone technology, it’s easy to wonder why DSLR and mirrorless cameras are still around. So many phones are available now that take high-quality images, good enough to make even an amateur photographer look professional. Once, a professional photographer saw a photo taken with my phone and was absolutely amazed at the quality, so it’s easy to understand why a person with a camera phone doubts the need to transition to a higher-end camera. The latest phone features allow you to change your shutter speed, ISO, and aperture priority. Some give you the ability to zoom and offer macro capabilities.

DSLR

PHON E

Several years ago, I approached this topic from the same perspective. I used a small digital camera when I first started shooting toy photography, and I used it religiously, catching some pretty good images. At the time, camera phones weren’t really producing good-quality photos, yet. Still, I managed to grab some pretty good stuff. Eventually, the technology advanced, and phones started giving pro cameras a run for their money; I ended up ditching my digital camera for the convenience of having a higherquality option right in my pocket.

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You can’t beat the convenience of having a cellphone/camera at the ready!

DSLR

PHON E


However, using my phone only lasted so long before I began developing a greater hunger for better-quality images. As I began to dig deeper into the toytography niche rabbit hole, I discovered new possibilities and techniques, creating a greater awareness of the potential of using better tools. Is there a better camera than the sophisticated phone already in hand? I knew I had hit my camera phone’s wall at this point, uncovering a photography itch that the phone camera just couldn't satisfy. To me, that’s what this debate is truly about. It’s not about who has the better specs because, trust me, if you go deep enough, you’ll quickly discover a phone does not hold a candle to a professional-grade DSLR or mirrorless camera.

DSLR So what we’re really talking about is the desire to improve and become a better photographer. When you start asking what’s a better camera, what you’re really asking is, “What’s going to give me the better experience and result?”

E N O H P

You’re really trying to find out which of these two choices is going to bring the best opportunity to advance your photography work. And, this is where it gets interesting because the real conversation starts here, and so does your journey to unlock your true potential. As you progress down this path, you’ll make many new finds, discover interesting techniques, and see photography from a whole new perspective.

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DSLR Sure, taking photos with a camera phone will give you a crisp image, but using tools with a DSLR or mirrorless camera allows you to play with your depth of field and much more. For example, a camera phone gives you sharp color, but wouldn’t it be better to have the ability to choose which color shines more than others?

PHONE 23


PHONE A camera phone shows you what it sees, but with a higher-end camera, you decide what you want it to see. More control allows you the ability to create your vision, rather than shoot and pray for what you capture in the frame. You can pre-design your set and manipulate the scene to enhance your photo’s story.

DSLR

In my opinion, the best option is a DSLR or Mirrorless camera. But until the opportunity comes for you to purchase that type of camera, work with what you have. Do your best to practice and improve until you're able to go for something better. However, once you make the decision to switch, you will immediately see the difference. (DSLR photos taken w/ Canon SL3) (Phone photos taken w/ Samsung Galaxy Note 10+)

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o N t o t N R R A A E LLEbe aa POOSSEERR P w wiitthh

Terry Smith

If you are a collector of 1/6 scale figures, you are undoubtedly familiar with the company Sideshow Collectibles. And if you're familiar with Sideshow, you've heard of Terry Smith. He has shared his skills on the popular show "How to be a Poser" and is the host of the gameshow, "Strike a Pose", where contestants face off against each other and have their poses judged by Terry himself. We had the honor of chatting with him and gained some valuable insight into posing figures. Toytography Magazine: First thing, for those who may be wondering, how long have you been posing figures for Sideshow? Terry Smith: For Sideshow? Since 2013. Yeah, I was doing other things for Sideshow before that. I was originally hired by Sideshow to work in the IP department, and I did some work with "The Dead", you know, the zombie stuff. So, I was writing backstories for characters and such. At some point, they decided that they didn’t need me for that, and as I was on my way out the door, somebody said, “Hey, you’re really good with sixth scale figures, right?” So, I wound up working in the development department, then the photography department for a little while there… full time photographer, then freelance… and now… I’ve just constantly been wearing a lot of hats. My role there has evolved quite a bit over the years.

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I think this is probably the steadiest gig with Sideshow that I’ve had. Yeah, what I’m doing right now is probably the steadiest gig I’ve had for my entire career with Sideshow. It’s a good fit. I enjoy it, working with the team that I work with, and I get to do what I’m, apparently, good at, which is posing action figures. TM: So, before that, how long were you posing figures, before Sideshow noticed? Haha! TS: I want to say that the first sixth scale figure that I got was one of the very early Star Wars figures from Sideshow. It was one of the Jedi Knights, I believe. I couldn’t tell you which one, whether it was Obi Wan Kenobi, or Plo Koon, or Mace Windu, maybe. I’m not sure. It wasn’t Luke Skywalker, because I had to go back and get him. He was the first release, and I had to go back and get that again in the aftermarket. I paid too much for it. I wound up having, pretty much, all of that early line, up to a certain point. If you ask me, I couldn’t even tell you what the first one that I didn’t get was, but there were a lot. I’ve still got most of them, but some I’ve sold, or given away, or whatever. TM: As far as photography… TS: That was right out of the gate, man. That was the first thing that I recognized. I was already taking photographs of my statue collection.


I had a sweet brick wall, an exposed brick wall, in my dining room, and I would set up these statues, and these figures, up on the dining room table, and just bounce the… I’d had an on-camera flash, and I’d just bounce the flash off the surrounding ceilings, walls, whatever, just to create different light effects. And that was legitimately my first light kit, just a single on camera flash with a rotating head that I could just bounce whichever direction that I wanted to, to achieve the desired effect. TM: Nice, ok! TS: Yeah, I did that for a little while, and ummm… Actually, I think that’s all that I did for at least five years, up to the point where I started doing work for Sideshow and started using studio lights. TM: Oh, ok! So, was that a huge difference from the lights you were using to “Wow! I have studio lights to work with!”? TS: Yeah! You know, I hadn’t used studio lighting since I was in college. I think the last time that I had messed around in a studio was 2002, before that, so I had at least a decade away from studio lighting. So, there was a little bit of a relearning curve, if you will, and I picked it up pretty quickly. I think I just recently posted on Facebook, the first photoshoot that I had, which would have been General Grievous. TM: Oh, General Grievous! That was a good shot. I have to say, the one that grabbed my attention was the Mythos Obi Wan where he’s leaping in the air… Oh, man, that’s a good shot.

TS: Thanks, man! Thanks, I really enjoyed that. He was going up against a Tusken there. You know how it is. You get done with a photograph, and you think you’re done with it, then you look at it later and you’re like, “Ah! I should’ve done this, this, this, and this.” TM: Haha! Yes. TS: Yeah, that’s definitely something that happens to me with every single photograph. The most recent one was a bunch of Avengers with Thanos, and it was a rush job. I needed to get it done in a hurry. My studio time… certain projects have an allotted amount of time. Once a new project is about to begin, then I need to wrap up whatever that previous project was. So, I had just a couple of hours to set up 7 or 8 figures and get one shot with a background, and set pieces, and everything like that. If you look at the photo… People who are not figure posers will look at that photo and say, “Yeah, that looks great!” But if you’re a figure poser, and especially if you’re a figure poser who also photographs, then you can look at that, and you can recognize, “Yeah, I think he could have done better.” There are poses for photography and there are poses for display. TM: Yes! TS: Right? The poses for display need to look good from every angle. People are walking around it. They can’t just look at it… What are those art projects? It just looks like a bunch of items just sitting in the middle of nowhere, then as you move into a particular field of view, at a particular angle, it turns into Santa Clause with his sleigh, or something. TM: Right! Haha! TS: But as soon as you move away, the illusion fades. The same thing happens with sixth scale posing. If you’re posing for a photograph, all you have to do is just nail that one angle. And I suspect that the same thing is true for people who are comic book artists. I think that they can achieve that in the same way as well.

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TM: Yeah, actually that’s one of the toughest things for me. So, let’s say you’re doing a pose for a figure, and it looks good as far as display, but when you’re taking a photo of it, you just can’t get that angle to really show… TS: Yeah, sometimes you’re like, “I’m just going to tweak that lightsaber a little bit to the right, just for the composition.” Yeah, whether it’s the barrel distortion because you’re using a wide-angle lens, or because of the compression with a zoom lens, you just lose that… You lose something that you don’t get with the naked eye. They say that 50mm is the closest approximation for depth that you get with the human eye. Maybe, if you stuck with that, you’d have a closer approximation and maybe it would work. But the fact of the matter is it’s a lot easier… Because I’ve chosen a specific lens for a particular photograph, I just really want to make that work within the frame, with the lens that I’ve got. So, I’m not above just making that slight adjustment to a leg, or to a lightsaber, like I said, or whatever it takes to make it work. Then once I’m done, once I back away from it, I’m like, “Yeah, that doesn’t look as good as it did before.” TM: Right! Haha! I’ve done that a few times, where I put it into a pose, then when I try to put it in frame, it just doesn’t look right. Then, when I’m actually moving an arm or a leg, I’m like, “Ok, on display, that looks so out of place.” But on camera, it’s just the right angle. TS: Yeah. And you can see it sometimes in product photography. Like, if you see a photograph of an Iron Man armor, especially the earlier ones… This isn’t so much the case these days, because they’ve dialed all that engineering for Iron Man. But in the earlier ones, I would be able to look at… Like the earlier plastic Iron Man armors, I would be able to look at what looked like a successful ground pound pose and say, “Eh, that doesn’t look quite right.” But, like I said, that’s all dialed. You’re able to do some pretty remarkable stuff with them these days. But like I said, those of us who have been photographing for a while, we can look at it and say, “Yeah, that was cheated a little.” And that’s just the game, man. I mean, you do what you have to do to make the image work, whether you’re doing it professionally or whether you’re doing it just for your art. Especially when it comes to the art, I’m totally down with that. The end result is all that matters.

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TM: Yeah, and that’s the thing I’ve noticed. There is a significant difference between product photography and artistic posing for photography. I’ve noticed, when it comes to a product photo for, let’s say, Hot Toys, their lighting is done a certain way so that all the features can be seen. But when it comes to the type of photos that I do, where it’s all shadows, it makes it stand out more with the shadows. TS: Yeah, it’s the difference between product photography and the realism that is necessary, and is dictated by the need, for showing the customer exactly what they’re going to buy. And you can go into a whole discussion of the morality involved with it. Like, you could go all “artsy” with an image, and one of the things that I like to do is to have a figure coming out of shadow, where some of the details are hidden, where it just creates what we call mood lighting or dramatic lighting, and it looks like something more cinematic or something like what you would see in the panel of a comic book. That’s lovely, and it sells the figure in a completely different way. But if that’s all you go for, then customers are going to be able to call you on it later, if there’s a detail that was hidden that they were not able to judge their purchase on. There’s a balancing act, I think, for the photography. Fortunately, you and I are not in the position where you and I don’t have to deal with that very problem because it’s just for fun, and everybody just gets to, hopefully, at the end of the day, look at the resulting image, and just be like, “Ooo… That’s good.”


TM: Right! Those kinds of photos are just like, “Man, the gloves are off.” So, going back to what you do for Sideshow, how did Strike a Pose come about? TS: It wasn’t my idea! It was not my idea! To this day, I do not know whose idea that was. I was approached by a guy named Brett, who used to work for Sideshow at the time. Brilliant videographer, filmmaker, editor. Editing was his strong suit, and he’s amazing at it. In fact, I think he’s edited every episode of Strike a Pose. Even after he left Sideshow, he continued to edit Strike a Pose. Yeah, he was definitely the strongest presence in that. Then producer Alan came along and changes were made in the format, and I think it was changed for the better. To be honest, when they came to me with Strike a Pose, I was like, “Okaaaay.” I couldn’t envision it. I’ve never really been one for reality TV and those kinds of game shows. I’ve never been that kind of a guy, so I was… I don’t want to say I was reluctant to do it. It was a gig, and it was with Sideshow, and I was like, “Yeah, man. If you want me to jump through fire, ok. I’ll do that.” But, um, I wound up really after the first episode or two was in and I saw the final product…. Because that was the thing, we did a couple of test episodes with just staffers of Sideshow and they were published, but I still didn’t know what it was going to be. TM: Yeah, I saw some of those episodes.

TS: Yeah, they had every confidence that it was going to work, but I wasn’t sold. I was like, “Ok, I trust you. Let’s just go ahead and do it, and I’ll just do my best. I don’t think I’m the right candidate for this, but if you think I am, ok. We’ll just go for this.” The way that they edit it really made… They edited out, of course, all the gaffs or any fluff, and it just looked great. And I was like, “This is a lot of fun!” I actually just rewatched an episode of it today while eating dinner. I didn’t have a lot of time, so I was just, “What can I do?” And that episode popped up on my suggested videos, and I was like, “Oh, yeah.” It’s the one with the quarter scale Spiderman, with Garrett Wareing, Paul Sun-Hyung Lee, and Rahul Kohli, who were the guests on it. And I was like, “I haven’t watched that in a while.” That’s actually a controversial episode, because almost nobody agrees with my decision for the final on that one. TM: Oh, really? Haha! TS: I have to say, after rewatching, I stand by it. I made the right choice. It’s not the call that my heart wants to make, because I really liked Garrett’s enthusiasm, I really like Paul Sun-Hyung Lee in general, and I’m a big fan of Rahul Kohli’s body of work. But at the end of the day, I think that Rahul, even though he made the most reserved pose, I thought that I really do feel like his was the best. There you go. That’s your scoop. That’s actually reaffirming. I kind of backpedaled for a little while on that, because everybody was just laying into me. Even the team at Sideshow was like, “No, you were wrong. Paul won.” Everybody. Everybody on my team was like, “You were totally wrong on that one. You made the wrong choice.” And I’m like, “No, I didn’t. No, I didn’t.” I love Paulie to death, I really do. As good as his pose was, as brave as his pose was, that’s the whole thing with Strike a Pose. You have to find that balance. You can choose to go big, but not only do you have to be able to back it up, that figure had better be able to back it up. There are limitations to the figures, and you have to be able to take that into account.

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TM: Yes! So, with that said, has anyone ever challenged you to a pose and you took them up on it? TS: Yes! And I lost miserably. I was on the dude’s YouTube channel, and he has a very big fanbase, so it wasn’t really a level playing field. I haven’t watched that video since it happened, but I still stand by my choices being better. But again, it’s all subjective. It’s like fan service. All the people yammering for what they expect to be happening in the next Avengers movie, and when they don’t get it, they’re just like, “Nah.” TM: Yes. Very true. TS: Like some of the reactions to the some of the more recent Star Wars shows, for instance, on TV, or the Marvel shows on TV. “That’s terrible.” Well, no. That’s just not what you were expecting. TM: Right! That’s what you wanted to see. TS: Yeah. You didn’t get to see it, so now you’re mad. And I understand the disappointment. I’ve been disappointed by things as well, but it’s a big, wide world and there’s room for a lot of different perspectives. You have to learn how to fit in with it. You know, roll with it. TM: With all the posing that you have done, can you name a figure that was the most challenging for you to pose? And how did you come up with a good enough pose to where you said, “Ok, that’s good”?

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TS: The figure will always remain the same. It will always be Hot Toys First Order Stormtrooper. I had dealt with armored figures before, in the Sideshow Clones, but the engineering on theirs was such that the armor bits were quite a bit looser on the limbs. So, that allowed you to get more range of motion, and when you bent the arm, everything seemed to work just fine. When Hot Toys came on board, their attention to detail was such that they really wanted these armor bit pieces to fit on the arms of their figures in exactly the same way that they fit on the arms of the actors portraying the characters. What wound up happening was, when you would bend the arms, then you would get these collisions with the armor that would, for instance, force the forearm, the gauntlet portion of the armor, up into the hand, and that would cause the hand to pop off. They hadn’t yet worked out how to fix that. They’ve done it now. The Clone Troopers that they’re generating now, you don’t have that problem. But they were just cutting their teeth with armored figures, at the time, and it was very, very challenging. Ultimately, what wound up happening, is I just had to alter my way of thinking. I had to, legitimately, just sit there and have a staring contest with the figure, and just examine it up and down, examine every bit of motion, and work in micro adjustments. I would just barely move the arm and spot how that rerebrace up at the top was affecting the vambrace at the bottom, causing it to move forward. And I was like, “Oh! That’s why that’s happening!” So, once I spotted that, I was able to recognize limitations, adjust accordingly, and try to keep that from happening. If you go to my channel, my YouTube channel, there’s actually a video there about posing First Order Stormtroopers. It illustrates everything that I learned from the time that I shot that first How to be a Poser video with the First Order Stormtroopers, all the way up until the time that video was published. Even at that time, I think it was 2019 or 2018, it’s somewhere in there that I shot the second video, people were still saying, “First Order Stormtrooper can’t be posed.” “Well… I disagree.” So, I made this video, and it’s actually been viewed quite a few times. I hope the people have learned quite a bit from it. Not only do I hope that they’re able to learn how to pose the Hot Toys First Order Stormtroopers, but I hope that they learn that there are limitations in every figure, but there’s also limitations within yourself.


You have to learn how to overcome impatience. Impatience being one of them. That’s a key one right there. You can’t just throw your arms up in the air and say, “This is terrible. This figure sucks.” Because it doesn’t. It doesn’t suck. I can tell you specifically that a lot of care and attention went into making those First Order Stormtrooper figures and they’re very, very solid figures. All it takes is you adapting yourself and being patient, being attentive, and figuring out how to make it work. And it will work for you. TM: That’s good. I have to say, I had to deal with the same challenge because, you know, there was a lot of negative talk about the 2015 Doc Brown figure. TS: Really? People didn’t like that one? TM: I thought the figure was great, but the biggest complaint was the facial expression. And I’m like, “There are ways you can work around that.” TS: Yeah, that’s an aesthetic choice, but the thing about facial expressions on figures… Now, I don’t have a lot of figures with expressions that are other than “Neutral”, we’ll say, but the fact is that all that does is create opportunities. When you get a grinning Ant-Man portrait, for instance, then that’s just like… Ok, you can use the grinning Ant-Man portrait in a way that conveys comedy, conveys character. That just tells you, if you’re going to use this portrait, I have to come up with a pose that’s actually going to complement this portrait. It’s a challenge that you have to rise to. You can’t just throw your arms up in the air and be like, “Well, this sucks.” It’s a great portrait. And if you can’t do it, well you’ve got a helmeted head and you can just put that on there. The joy that you get from sixth scale figure posing is entirely up to you. It is. I mean, sure, there’s a lot to be said for the quality that goes into making a figure, and the quality of the final product exists on a sliding scale.

TM: Is there a specific genre of figures that you can’t get enough of taking pictures of? That you can’t get enough of posing? TS: Boba Fett. I find myself recently in a big Boba Fett kick. I can’t imagine why, haha! Hashtag Mandalorian. Hashtag Book of Boba Fett. Yeah, I currently have situations going on at home. I’ve got a sick dog. I had to replace my furnace in February and my air conditioner in June. I’ve got major financial things going on right now, so in order to catch up, I’ve limited myself to one figure a month. TM: Wow! TS: I haven’t stuck to that, yet. The lowest I’ve gone is two. TM: Haha! Ok! Man, that is such a good figure, and so many poses and photos you can get with that thing. Aw, man. TS: Did you see that Guy Klender and the team did a First Look Unboxing of it? And they did a side-byside comparison with the Boba Fett Deluxe. I was blown away by the number of differences. I actually, legitimately thought, in my brain, that it was the same outfit, only with painted armor. No, so far from that. TM: So, when you’re looking at other people’s photos, what are the most common mistakes that you see in other people’s pictures?

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TS: Yeah, I think more often than not, people have a tendency to try to go too big, without a full understanding of figural art. That’s really crucial. You have to study it. It doesn’t just come to you naturally. It didn’t come to me naturally. It took me years of reading comic books and studying the art in comic books, the repetition of that. I started with reading comic books, and then I bought a copy of "How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way", and there’s a huge, huge segment in there on posing your characters. That was a big help for me, too, in the early days. I also had the help of people at Sideshow, artists at Sideshow, the Art Director Tom Gilliand. He gave me a lot of pointers, while I was doing the photography, so that helped considerably. But the thing of it is, you can recognize instantly when somebody hasn’t had a whole lot of experience. You can see they’re trying to get a crazy Spiderman pose, and it just looks ungainly and unwieldy, all the physics of it just aren’t there, and it just really wouldn’t work in the real world. At the end of the day, that guy’s happy with the pose that he got, and that’s really all that matters in the end. “Ok, are you happy with it?” Unless it’s a competition. Unless you’re going to appear on Strike A Pose, then it doesn’t really matter, does it? It’s really just whatever makes you happy, as long as you think that it looks good.

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TM: Yes. Until years down the line they take a look at it and think, “Oh, man. What was I thinking?” TS: That’s every artist in history! Right? I mean, I look at my early works, and I’m just like, “Ugh!” I look at stuff from two months ago, and I’m like, “What was I thinking?” Two days ago, with that Avengers thing. I speak about that all the time, about how I’ll nail a pose and be like, “Yeah! Nailed it! Got it!” I’ll put it up on a shelf, and I’ll walk away, and a day later, or an hour later, I’ll walk by, and I’ll be like, “Oh…” (mimics reposing a figure) Right? I think that’s the most obvious example of your evolution. You’re walking by something, and you immediately see something wrong with it. That’s what’s so cool about a thing like sixth scale figures, as opposed to other art forms, is it’s a lot easier to correct that and grow. In fact, you might even be able to say that it gives you more of an opportunity to grow as an artist, because of that simplicity. You can just move through those corrections a lot quicker. I was watching… I can’t remember the name of the artist, but he’s a concept artist for the MCU, and on YouTube today, he had a 10minute video of him drawing The Mighty Thor, Jane Foster Thor. They’re doing all that stuff digitally now. They’re not doing it all practical, on paper and everything, where you have to break out an eraser every time you make a mistake, or the white out. They’re doing it digitally, and he was legitimately doing stuff similar to what we do with sixth scale figure posing. He would just select a whole block, or a whole head, and shrink that head, make it a little bit bigger, or take that arm and shift it over a little bit this way, after he’d drawn it. Technology is getting to that point, where you can be a 2D artist, and do the things that we do with sixth scale figure posing, insofar as correcting, learning, and evolving. TM: Wow, that’s impressive!


TS: It is impressive, yeah. It’s exciting. It kind of makes me want to pick up a pad and stylus. It’s all merging, and everything is becoming much easier to do. It’s just so much more convenient now for artists, than it was 20, even 10, years ago. I remember a year or two ago, they just did a segment on Disney+ in which they highlighted a couple of artists from Marvel Comics. One was a woman who did Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, and the other one was an artist for Miles Morales. The artist for Miles Morales was doing a lot of that too. A lot of his stuff was digital, like he would have assets that he would be able to pull and put onto the page, rather than have to draw them, then he could tweak them and just do his art that way. That’s the kind of art that I can do. I have a ridiculously high level of ADHD, so when it came to learning how to draw, I didn’t have the patience for it. But something like sixth scale, where everything’s right there, then I can play. The stuff that I didn’t have the patience to learn how to do, it’s already done for me. Other artists have already taken care of that and made it so I can just play. It's like George Lucas’ art team, creating all these creatures and everything that he can do fun things with on film. It’s the same idea. TM: Yes! I kind of do the same thing. When I first started buying things from Sideshow, I bought two Maquettes. One was the Indiana Jones, the one where he’s holding the idol, and the other one was the Jack Sparrow. I had those, and I loved those things so much, but the reason why I stopped getting them was because I was like, “I want to put this in a different pose!”

TS: Yeah! That’s something that I’ve always said. I will say this time and time again, and people are probably sick of hearing me say it, the thing that I like most about sixth scale figure posing, or any figure posing medium, is it’s the only genre of collectible in which you get to have the final say in the creative process. A whole team of artists brought this thing to you and said, “Ok, now do something with this.” Whereas, with a statue, the story has already been told. You’ve got Indiana Jones standing there with the idol and his whip in his hand, just standing there like he just walked out of that tomb. Or Jack Sparrow’s sitting there with all the crates around him, and a powder keg, and all the coins and everything. That story has been told. Now, they’re giving you all these assets. You’ve got the figure, you’ve got the accessories, you’ve got the hands, change of costume in some cases, with some of the cooler ones, and it just gives you this unlimited potential for storytelling. In my opinion, for somebody who’s not able to just pick up a pen, or sculpting tools and create, it is the ultimate access to creativity in three dimensions, which is then transferrable to two dimensions. It’s like art on art, when we do it, because you’re creating a three-dimensional model, and you’re doing it in such a way that it will transfer readily into two dimensions. That’s really what it’s all about for me. For me, my figure posing has its roots in comic books, which is a two-dimensional medium. But it’s a two-dimensional medium that has to take into account the third dimension, and it has to do it in such a way that, when you’re looking at this in two dimensions, you can imagine that third dimension. So, with sixth scale figure posing, we’re doing it backwards. We’re legitimately creating that threedimensional world, in order for it to translate into a two dimensional photograph. TM: That’s true! Yeah! The only way that you can kind of portray a 3D image is by using aperture priority. For instance, I’ve taken a couple pictures of the Sideshow Gambit. When you’re doing a pose where it looks like the card is coming at you, and you’re putting the focus there just by using the aperture priority, that’s where you can kind of put it back into 3D. But yeah, that’s exactly what we’re doing, taking the 3D and putting it back into 2D.

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TS: Yeah. Let me ask you this, at what point do you… Like in the case of the Gambit figure, are you trying to create that shallow depth of field? Do you want that effect? Or is your goal to try to get the whole figure in your photos? Or as much as you can. TM: Well, it really depends upon the pose or the photo, because when I’m doing a pose like that, I don’t want the whole thing in focus. Sometimes, I’ll play with it to see what looks better in focus. For instance, if I’m doing a pose like that, I’ll take the picture different ways. Do I want it to focus on the card? Do I want it to focus on Gambit and the card is just a little bit out of focus? So, I kind of play around with it a little bit, but it really depends on the pose and what they’re doing. TS: In some of my photos, it the past 4 years or so, I’ve been experimenting with photo stacking. There are some situations where it works out really well, like a lot of the photos I do of multiple Imperial Troops, for instance. I’ve got a style, and I get it. For my dramatic images, with more than one character, I’m usually shooting at ground level. It just gives it more drama. I also think that it adds that level of realism that is lacking, if you take it above knee level. At least for me. I have not yet been able to do photographs from above knee level in a way that has completely satisfied me, that’s been able to break that barrier of realism and unrealism. TM: That’s actually what I wanted to ask you about. For some people who may have challenges with it, would that be your recommendation for someone who’s trying to pose more than one figure in frame? What’s the best way to approach that? TS: I think it depends on how important it is for you to have all the figures in frame. In focus. It depends on the story that you’re wanting to tell. For me, again, it goes back to the roots in comic books. It wasn’t until the ‘90s, or even later than the ‘90s, maybe not even until this century, you started seeing comic book art that had a shallow depth of field. Everything was always tack sharp. So, that’s how I grew up. That was the twodimensional reality of storytelling that I grew up with. I kind of adhere to that. I do recognize the value in the occasional image with a shallower depth of field, like the photo that I just did of the Avengers with Thanos. All you see of Thanos is his foot. TM: So, when you’re doing pictures like that, where you have multiple figures, how long is the process to do something like that?

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TS: Anywhere from three hours to all day, depending on the level of complexity. The bulk of that can be just constructing the set. The way that I do it is actually in camera. I set up the camera, I find my angle, I set up the camera down at ground level, worm’s eye view, decide which focal length, depending on whatever I’m trying to achieve, and I construct the set in the lens. I’ve got a monitor up to the side, and I just move things around to the places that I want them to be, then I start building with the figures, then it becomes just a constant process of moving one thing, then moving other things to compensate. I’ll get it to where I think I need it to be, then I’ll take a test shot, then I’ll look at it and I’ll study it for a while. Then I’ll walk away, grab myself a bag of chips, and I’ll go back and look at it some more. Then I’ll just sit there and go “Hmmm… no, that’s got to change.” I’ll throw away the chips, make a change, and it’s a constant process of keeping that up for as long as I have the time to do it. Like I said, with the Avengers figure, I had three hours. I needed to get it done pretty quickly. If I had the opportunity, I’d go back and redo the whole thing. I’m happy with the Thor pose, maybe with Black Widow’s and with Hawkeye. They’re way back in the background, and you can’t even tell what they look like anyway. Captain America, I would totally change his. Iron Man, I would definitely change his. Iron Patriot, I would change his. Rocket, I’ve already changed his. I’ve got Iron Patriot and Rocket basically in the same poses that I had in the image, up there on a shelf to my left, and Rocket, like I said, I’ve changed. He’s much more dynamic. It would have been better to have him that way. And I would have also thrown Rescue into the mix. I completely forgot I had Rescue in the house. Yeah, lots of little things that I would have done differently, but you don’t want to talk about the bad things. At the same time, you have to celebrate the successes, like the way that I was able to not put any fly ash over any of the bases, potentially scratching the bases. I just built up little hills of fly ash, so that, from the camera angle, you couldn’t tell that there were bases there. TM: So, when you were trying to pose them, I understand what you were doing with Thanos, but were you trying to pose them in a way so that everybody’s on screen? Is that what you were trying to accomplish?


TS: I wanted the big three to be dominant. I wanted Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor to be dominant. Because the video was How To Be A Poser on Thor, then I wanted him to be front and center. I wanted him to be the one that your eye went to. Everything was bent around drawing your eye to Thor. TM: Ah, ok. Now I understand. TS: All other considerations were secondary, at that point. As long as I got Thor right, I was going to be at least content. Everything else could have been done better, but yeah, for the most part everything just kind of leads your eye to Thor. The angle of Thanos’ foot, his leg just kind of draws your eye right to Thor. I intentionally had Captain America kind of break in the frame a little bit, so it wouldn’t look like I was trying to make him the focus. Even Hawkeye in the background, I was very careful to aim his arrow past Thor, at Thanos, but the illusion is there, that the arrow is kind of pointing towards Thor. But really, the subject of that photo was Thor. TM: Gotcha. Looking at that, yes, it makes sense, because, even when you start looking at it, and your eye starts to gravitate towards Captain America, it still brings you back to Thor. TS: Yeah. In that, it’s successful. I mean, again, there are a lot of things that I could have done better, and I acknowledge that. I’m the first person to admit that, but this isn’t necessarily a hobby where you can take all the time in the world. I mean, we all have lives, outside of the hobby, one hopes. TM: You mentioned that you looked at comic books for inspiration, for guidance, and things like that, are there any other suggestions that you can give, as far as source material, that people can look at to help them be a poser?

TS: I was a statue collector, before I was a sixth scale figure collector. That actually informed a lot of my work, just watching what the artists at Sideshow, and at Weta, were doing. Those are the two companies that I collected from, back in the day. That helped a lot. Apart from that, like I said, pick up How To Draw Comics The Marvel Way. I mean, that’s a really strong one. And they have several other books on how to draw comic books, that will also teach you the fundamentals of anatomy and how the human body moves, and what looks dynamic and what doesn’t. They’ll legitimately draw for you, in those books, things that don’t work, and contrast them with things that do. So, if you get that, and study it, that will help you translate the things that you’re doing that aren’t working, “Oh, yeah. That thing that they’re saying that doesn’t work, that’s exactly what I did with this figure over here. Now, they’re going to show me how to fix that in the next illustration.” So, it’s just a constant process of looking at other people’s work, finding tutorials in the form of books, or YouTube videos, or whatever it takes, and ultimately, just absorbing from the world around you and being observant.

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Study photography. Go to the museum and study statues. Just look at what the great artists have done. Try to hit a pose with your Captain America figure that’s basically the statue of David. Things like that. Exercises. You don’t have to pose them that way, and I’m not saying that I do, but there have been poses that I’ve hit, even on episodes of How To Be A Poser, that have legitimately been lifted from classic art. There’s a photograph out there that I did of the Midas figure, the Iron Man Mark XXI, where it’s drawn from paintings that I’ve seen of angels, and the idea of the Myth of Icarus. There’s just this blue sky behind him, and it’s like he’s reached the pinnacle of flight, with that gold armor, that really adds to it, and everything like that. You know, just draw inspiration from everything that’s around you. From the world around you, from the people you see walking down the street, from paintings, from sculptures, from photography, from mythology, whatever it takes. Film. Television. There’s this abundance of source material for you to draw from. Find something that just grabs you, even if it’s not related. Even if you’re trying to figure out a pose for Iron Man. Ok, I’m thinking of the Myth of Icarus. Iron man and the Myth of Icarus. Those are the two great tastes and who would know they would go so great together? I’m really happy with how it turned out. Now, I showed it to my friend’s 11-year-old kid the other day, and he was like, “That looks kind of froufrou.” TM: Haha! TS: But that’s an important lesson, because, no matter how good you think you’ve done, how good other people may think that you’ve done with that specific pose, there’s always going to be someone who disagrees with it. You have to be a duck, man. You have to let that water roll off you. It’s just about developing thick skin, while at the same time, learning. I’m lucky enough that I have a lot of friends who are great artists. So, that gives me another avenue. I get to talk to them, and I get to have them critique my work. A lot of my early work was critiqued by people I still highly respect to this day. Get yourself a clan, basically. Get yourself a clan, and rely on each other to be honest, but not in a brutal way. You can be brutally honest, but do it in a kind way. A respectful way. Don’t just say, “This isn’t working for me.” Say, “This isn’t working, because of this.” Because of the anatomy, or the posture that you have going on. This is not how the human body looks, when it’s getting ready to throw a spear. There are ways that you can study this sort of thing. Get footage of the Olympics and freeze frame it, and just practice. Like, hurdlers. Get yourself a flight stand. Get a nude figure body. I used to practice with nude figure bodies. Just get yourself a flight stand and just do leaping poses, and flying poses, and sword wielding poses, without the distraction of portraits, and costumes, and stuff like that. Just focus on the anatomy of it. There’s so many ways that you can make yourself better. TM: Well Terry, thank you SO much for your time. I greatly appreciate all of your input. TS: Yeah man! This was good times.

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Outdoor toytography with Brian Carr & Shelly Corbett

Setting the Scene Taking photos outdoors is something toytographer Shelly Corbett recently discussed with me in an interview. Natural settings found only by going outdoors are something she feels strongly about for creating over-the-top imagery to enhance any photo story. And while there is a myriad of sensible reasons NOT to take it to the outdoors, in Shelly’s seasoned view, it makes the most sense for fantastic outcomes to get into real and rustic settings outside in the world. At first, I had reservations about damaging sometimes expensive toys and figures by taking them into weather, dirt, and other external and environmental forces to shoot. Still, over time, I began to see things differently. Of course, many folks argue that their computer, apps, software, or post-processing allow them to create any background or location setting and effects they want. But don’t forget, there’re also costs and time factors in this answer as well. And Shelly contends that none of those methods are truly easy to replicate for real water flowing, golden hour suns, or shining beams of light stretching through a dark shadowy forest. She also reminds in our talk of all the imaginative options you have in a “live” setting and how you can control things for various effects. For example, she says, you can throw a rock for a splash background in water, adjust the shutter speed to freeze or blur waterways, add or adjust lighting, and so much more.

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But we agree it’s a good idea to get out, find it, and do it in the real outdoors. For lighting, there’s sometimes no way to replicate the real thing, and I mean the lighting that comes from all sides, not just a stream through a window. I’m speaking of the perfect mixture of light and shadows you get from being out in the elements. As Shelly mentions, no matter if you use a plain background or a screenshot on a monitor, your lighting must match in order to make your image “believable.” Shelly puts it best, saying, “I go outside because it’s easier.”


Sunshine: An Amazing Light Source Shelly relishes in the best light source of all, sunshine, and it’s an essential and beautiful factor for captivating photos in her view. Using this amazing natural asset she finds at all times in shooting outdoors; Shelley explains the simplicity of taking a simple bounce card as her go-to, easy-to-carry tool to enhance what’s already faithfully waiting outside for her. A tripod may be helpful as well, she shares. There are other elements you need to be aware of, especially wind. Consider using wires or a figure stand in some cases so as not to have the wind whip up, knocking your valuable toy figures over. Think about safeguarding your toys by carrying them in cases or within your camera bag except when in use to help discourage accidents from the elements or any damage. Don’t be afraid to experiment with lighting outdoors. You can even try using flash lighting for surprising results. Yes, outdoor flash! Use your imagination with your outdoor settings to influence the mood and viewpoint you bring to the frame.

Your high-end figures safely taking on real-world forces in natural settings appeal with sincerity and certainty and make for highly realistic action shots. Location often creates the scene, setting a tone and background to the story. The more you venture into outdoor settings, the more imaginative styles you bring in what you create and skillfully present in your toytography. You may want to take your figures on vacation adventures with you, finding new conditions and backgrounds to work with along the way. Sounds fun, right?

Indoors or Outside? Shelly mentions that it seems like photographers are one or the other: inside or outdoors. If not one or the other, certainly, many have a preference. For Shelly, it’s outside all the way, all day. There are endless possibilities for shooting outdoors, and she talks about the subject with a passion. I like both. I see benefits to each. But, as you know, I prefer, like Shelley seems to, to want the least post-processing in my work as possible. I want to perfect it as I shoot.

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So, I practice and work at shooting indoors and out. I experiment. A lot. I invite you to do the same. One approach many toytographers like for settings and background scenes are to use dioramas and while they are most popular with indoor photography, some toytographers like to work with them outside, too. Adding layers by combining diorama setups with outdoor backdrops is one technique that people use to create an interesting multi-dimensional feel. Pre-planning is important as you add elements and carry extra resources, and Shelly goes as far as pre-modeling her figures as she safely pre-packages them for travel. On vacation, she often envisions something ahead of time she feels captures a story she wants to share. Like I do, she puts a lot of time, thought, and effort into the preliminary planning and detailing for a photo opportunity. Shelly knows what she’s after ahead of time, often. But again, she also allows for creativity and improvising on the scene. She allows for the atmosphere to grab her and inspire some of the work along in all its natural essence. In part, these thinking and planning stages are what make you a professional photographer, Shelly explains.

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One Difference One thing Shelly distinguishes, and we kinda chuckle about, is that many indoor shooters also show behind-the-scenes details as opposed to outdoor photographers. Heavy use of staging, like dioramas, and many other special effects, require a lot more behind-the-scenes to-do items than working with what is naturally there and manipulating what’s in front of you. It’s kind of a “what you see is what you get” scenario, perhaps. In any case, Shelly’s message is to get out and explore your surroundings. The smallest things are inspiring and useful for creating imaginative and beautiful toytography. If you aren’t at least experimenting and discovering intimate details, (right at your fingertips) by simply stepping outside and looking around you, you may be missing an essential element for your progress in toytography. Believe me, you can gain great new toy photography explorations by noting the smallest things, all closer than you realize. Explore and enjoy. Thank you to Shelly Corbett for her time and insights for this piece.

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Congratulations to the themed contest winner! #Thatsfunny Name: Jay Boaz

Instagram: JBotography

Country: Canada Camera: Pixel 3 XL but about to upgrade to a Pixel 7 Pro How long: Since December of 2020

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About the photo: The Hood is quite possibly my favorite figure to shoot, his facial expression is so versatile! I've probably used him more than any other figure in my collection. This photo was inspired by Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls ("Kind of hot in these rhinos!"). With so many amazing toytographers out there, I have to remind myself sometimes that everyone has their own strengths when it comes to their work. I feel my strength is telling a story through my photos, and in this case anyone with any familiarity with the film knows exactly what's going on. On that note, my apologies to my fellow Transformers: Beast Wars fans for desecrating Rhinox in this fashion.

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Next Contest Theme: #Hero

The theme for our spring issue contest is Hero. This can be interpreted however you want. As some say, heroes don't always wear capes. So grab your camera (or phone) and create an ORIGINAL photo that shows something heroic. When posting your photo (In our Facebook group or via email), don't forget to use the hashtag #Hero. To submit a photo for the next contest, just post your photo in the Toytography Magazine Facebook group or email us at info@toytographymag.com. The photo with the most votes wins. #Hero Don't forget, you must preorder the coming issue for your image to be accepted. Thank You.

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SHARE YOUR

PHOTO

Photo Submission To submit a photo for the Toytography Wall in the next issue, post your photo in the Toytography Magazine Facebook group and use the Hashtag #issueno3 You must preorder the coming issue for your image to be accepted.

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NEXT ISSUE Featured Toytographer: Mitchel Wu Tripods: Exploring different sizes and adapters Aperture Priority: Learning the F-Stops Camera Angles: Positioning makes all the difference

Website: Toytographymag.com Instagram: Toytography_Magazine Facebook Group: Toytography Magazine

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