You do what?
Actually, what is it I do?
I’ve been asked why I do what I do by Stuck In Plastic before. I’ve been asked how I do what I do before on Instagram. I’ve been asked who are my favourite figures. I’ve even been asked when is my favourite time to do it. But recently I was asked what I do, and the question threw me.
In this forum, the question doesn’t get asked. We all do the same, or similar. But, outside the toy photography community, explaining what we do often results in bamboozled looks. “You play with toys? And you take photos of them?”
There’s a stigma attached when explaining toy photography to someone unfamiliar with the concept; a dirty little secret, the unconventional, dirty laundry, or hobby huggermugger. Or is there?
What exactly is toy photography? And how do I explain it to someone who has never heard of such a thing?
For me, the terms “toy photography” and “art form” have been strange bedfellows. Do I consider what I do art? Do I dare put myself in the same class as artists that I admire? Am I parallel to Pettibon? Am I similar to Smith? Do I break even with Banksy or BLU? No! Don’t get me wrong, I do think of other toy photographers as artists; I’ve just never considered myself to be one. I just take photos of toys.
“I just take photos of toys.”
Hearing this statement escape my mouth, I think of the Dada art movement, Duchamp, and his “readymades”; everyday objects found or purchased and presented as art with little manipulation by the artist. According to Dadaism, anything can be art, including photographs of toys, found or purchased.
I don’t believe in art. I believe in artists.
– Marcel Duchamp
The term anti-art, a precursor to Dada, is applied to an array of concepts and attitudes that reject prior definitions of art and question art in general. My preconceptions of what is art, and what I do “not” being art, should be questioned. Maybe what I do is art?
So when asked what I do, should I shun away from admitting to my “dirty little secret”? Is it just easier to avoid answering the question rather than labouring over an explanation of what it actually is? Should I be uncomfortable admitting, “I just take photos of toys”? Do I “just” take photos of toys? No!
I’ve decided to declare a war against my own mediocrity. I renounce the self-effacing me.
From now on, when asked what I do, I’ll boldly and proudly explain, “I take photos of toys! I’m a toy photographer!”