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.