Most of my knowledge about the happenings and people of the toy photography community comes second-hand from the other members of Stuck in Plastic. I’ve been surprised many times by new-to-me names that, it turns out, are veritable celebrities online with tens of thousands of followers. Seems I don’t actually look at that much toy photography.
That might sound odd coming from a toy photographer, but I don’t think it’s particularly uncommon for artists to seek inspiration from outside their area of expertise. In fact, I find it a much healthier place to look for ideas. I’m always up for broadening my artistic horizons.
I fear that taking too deep an interest in what other people are doing with toy photography may lead to unconscious copying of ideas. My ideas for photographs might be bad, or someone might have done them before, but they’re from my own head, as far as I know.
When I started taking photos of toys there wasn’t a lot of toy photography about. I was interested in photography, and toys, and I put those together in my own ways. It’s kind of stayed that way ever since. I still take inspiration from the same sources as I did at the start: films, paintings, photographs, graphic design. Anything visual.
Stories, settings and lighting from films. Details, textures and composition from paintings and graphic design. Lighting, composition and framing from photographs. I’ve picked up a few interesting building techniques from toy photographs (like the head-tilt from Darryll), interesting technical joints from LEGO MOCs, etc., but the style doesn’t come from there.
It’s good to immerse yourself in all sort of art, especailly as a beginner. The more interpretations you see the more tools you have available to weave into photographs.
Love your work Mike! I need to stop paying so much attention to what’s being posted by my community friends, as I fear falling into the “copy cat” mode… it’s just so easy to do!