Get down low and go, go, whoa!
Seeing so many wonderful behind the scenes shots from the recent Seattle Toy Photographers meet-up, got me thinking about lying on the ground just to get a photo of a toy. And why most of my jeans have stained knees.
My legs are achin’
My eyes are sore
I haven’t washed my jeans
In three months or more
Dirt Jeans – Magic Dirt
I remember discovering Instagram 5 years ago and being instantly excited by how it made me look at where I was with different eyes. It challenged me to think about where I was standing and how that certain location could be viewed differently, more creatively. I wasn’t just seeing my surroundings as a “holiday snapshot” anymore. I was being dared to think how I could capture a vista in a more interesting way.
Long before Instagram, I was given “Nightmares in the Sky: Gargoyles and Grotesques”, a book of wonderful and disturbing photographs of gargoyles taken by avant-garde photographer f-stop Fitzgerald, by my then girlfriend, now wife. In the book Stephen King introduces us to the gargoyles as the faces we rarely see but are always watching us. In King’s text, we are told to always look up, as we never know what might be watching us from above. Ever since first reading this I crane my neck skyward whenever I’m in a city, looking for gargoyles and grotesques. And, whilst looking up for those looking down, I’ve learned to see my surroundings in another way.
Taking photos of toys has also changed the way I look at my surroundings.
Before photographing toys, I can’t think of a time I was taking a photo and wondered “what would this shot look like if I lay on the ground?” Before shooting toys, I can’t remember lying on the ground to capture that angle ever. Before toys, I don’t recollect admiring what worlds were down at my feet. Before toys, I don’t recall admiring plants or rocks for their proportionate scale. Before toys, I didn’t appreciate small-grained sand. Before toys, I don’t think I looked down, and appreciated what was down there, as much as I do now.
Taking photos of toys has made me appreciate my environment through little low altitude eyes. This low-slung viewpoint offers a new world. It opens up a completely unique experience.
Think of me.
(It’s a tiny little world)
Watch what you do. Watch what you say.
Tiny Ugly World – Alice Donut
Whilst travelling Europe many years ago, I can’t recall seeing folks in Venice’s Piazza San Marco lying on the pavement to capture a different angle of St Mark’s Basilica. I’m pretty sure I didn’t see a single tourist lying on their stomach to capture Sagrada Família either. Nor did I see anyone lying on the ground attempting to upskirt Michelangelo’s David in Venice. But maybe things would be different today? Maybe with the growth of toy photography and social media to share such photos, there might be more horizontal, ground-slithering photographers?
And, this is why, I somewhat pity people who don’t have some toys tucked away in their camera bags. Without a toy in their pocket, every time someone pulls out their phone to snap a photo, they’re missing out on something. It’s this small world vantage point they’re missing; a whole new way of viewing their surroundings.
It’s a whole new, tiny little world they’ll never know.
And I expect all the knees of their jeans are clean too.
Even my non-toy photography friends and family have been inspired to see the world differently because of what I do. When I was hiking with my mom she eagerly pointed out all these little nooks and crannies in the rocks where I could place a minifigure. A friend of mine even interrupted her jog one morning to text me a photo of some lush patch of moss in her neighborhood that she thought would be perfect for LEGO photos!
That’s wonderful Leila! Kudos to you for sharing this wonderful tiny little world with others.
I can totally relate to this post. It’s amazing how I find myself continuous scanning the ground for interesting lighting and mini figure scale terrain. I’ve discovered cool lichen, moss, fungus, patterns in rocks, grain in wood and who knows what else I’ve photographed over the years. I have a much better appreciation for the beauty of nature. Not to mention how much it changes from season to seasons and year to year. Like Leila, I find my kids are now always on the lookout for interesting photographic spots. My son is especially good at it, I’ve taken many a… Read more »
Precisely Shelly. Who’d have thunk that taking photos of toys would’ve evoked a greater appreciation for nature? Well, at the very least, small-scaled nature!
My two kids are also great location detectives. As our weather gets cooler and wetter, most weekends involve a traipse around our property in search of new mosses and mushrooms that the cooler seasons bring to life. And any trip to the beach with camera and toys, I’ve always got my two scouts up ahead, pointing out every possible Tatooine setting!
I started with macroshots of flowers and still do those shots, so I am quite used to lying on the ground. But not so much where there are people..yet. Perhaps if we do it more, more people will dare to follow ;)