It’s A Small World with David Gilliver

Recently Bevvypix asked our Feature Friday guest if he would like to tell us all about his toy photography. And without hesitation David said yes. Bev was introduced to his work whilst studying her MA in Photography. Although she specifically use Lego in her images, she was interested to know there are other types of toy photographers out there, all creating little universes and highlighting environmental issues in different ways.

Without further avail, let us introduce the Miniature Worlds and creative Toy Photography of published artist David Gilliver.

Who is David Gilliver?

Hello. My name is David and I am a professional Macro-photographer and ‘Light Painter’. A little bit about me, I graduated from a Fine Art Photography (BA Hons) course at the Glasgow School of Art back in 2001, and I have been working hard to establish myself as a respected professional photographer and artist ever since. My work specialises in long-exposure photography (the art of ‘Light Painting’) and macro photography (my ‘Little People’ and Toy series).

Highlights

Over the years, my work has received some very welcome attention. This has led to me becoming involved in some very exciting projects all over the world. Some highlights of the past few years include having some of my photography stocked by John Lewis, providing bespoke artwork for the wonderful AIDA cruise-ship restaurants, and working on exciting projects/commissions with ThreeUK, the Canary Islands Tourism Group, Sony, and Adobe.

Commission with ThreeUK © David Gilliver

A Step by Step Guide

My main passions are creating bespoke artworks for my clients, and teaching others about the magical techniques that I have fallen in love with – Macro Photography and Light Painting.

During the first Lockdown in 2020, I decided to make good use of my time (as all of my Workshops had to be cancelled) and so I spent several months writing two very detailed interactive eBooks to help other photographers learn more about these magical techniques. 

A Witness at the Scene

Rewinding all the way back to 1998 to when it all started. I witnessed a dreadful road accident taking place involving a lorry and a car. Thankfully (and rather miraculously!) the driver of the car avoided any serious injury and was retrieved from the car-wreck unscathed by the emergency services. As I was a young budding student photographer at the time, I took 1 photograph of the scene. It reminded me of the small figurines I used to play with as a young boy.

As I watched the emergency services personnel working below me (I was up on the 3rd floor of a Dental surgery waiting to be seen at the time!) I felt a strong compulsion to recreate the scene using miniatures. This developed into part of a Fine Art Project that I was working on at Art School. And so began my love affair (and obsession) with macro photography. I have now been building and photographing dioramas for the past 23 years and counting, and appear to have coined a style of photography which has inspired so many photographers all over the world which delights me! 

Recreating a scene that I witnessed, thankfully no one was hurt. © David Gilliver

Tackling Themes

A useful point to mention here is back in the 90’s when I was just getting started. I took a lot of inspiration from the legend that is David Levinthal – an American photographer and artist who has produced some incredible artworks using figurines. You can check out some of his work here: http://davidlevinthal.com/

Over the years I have created many series of artworks, tackling themes such as:

  • Plastic Pollution
  • Brexit 
  • And more recently, the global pandemic that is ‘Covid19’ 

I think because the work is figurative in nature, it is immediately relatable (on some level) to those who view it. This makes it easier to convey serious messages when broaching subjects like those I mention above. It is important to not only have fun when making work like this, but when possible, to also convey useful messages when the opportunity arises. For me, I find this process incredibly cathartic as making this work helps me to process my feelings and thoughts.

Behind the Scenes

My ‘Miniature Worlds’ are very basic in terms of how I construct each scene. For example, some of my backdrops are quite simply cotton wool stuck to blue card to create the impression of a cloudy sky background. Because I use a shallow depth of field when capturing this work, the backdrops (albeit crude and simple in nature) feel reasonably convincing.

To light each scene, I normally use whatever ambient light is available in my studio, but if that is not working the way I want it to I use a torch to help control the lighting better. Torches make great tools for lighting this kind of work as the sets/dioramas are so tiny.

My ‘Toy’ series, as you might expect, is an offshoot of my smaller macro work. Normally I shoot these scenes on a desk using dolls-house props. However, I still capture them using the same macro photography setup as my smaller works (namely using my Canon 100mm macro lens). 

My Kit

Toy Portfolio

This work is definitely more comedic in nature. They allow me the opportunity to create works for the sheer enjoyment of providing a little entertainment. At the same time, maybe they raise a smile along the way. Sometimes, when I am making this work I burst out laughing! That’s normally when I realise I am on to a good idea.

When you REALLY want an Irn Bru. © David Gilliver
I said any year EXCEPT 2020. © David Gilliver
Hulk SMASHed. © David Gilliver

What’s Next?

Well, because of the repeated Lockdowns we have been experiencing here in the UK, I have been forced to spend a lot of time indoors and in my studio this past year. My light painting work feels like it has been put on hold for the time being.However, I have been incredibly busy making lots of new macro work (the Little People have been VERY busy!). As a little teaser, and if you are on Instagram, my ‘Mini-Olympics’ series launches this Friday (the 5th of March) and includes some really exciting events, like:

  • The 100mm sprint race
  • The not-very-high jump
  • Macaroni hurdles
  • The staple-chase

If you find me on Instagram, you will see a new event posted each day.

© David Gilliver. And the gold medal goes to …

I have also challenged myself to create and photograph 100 dioramas in 100 days, so far so good. As I write this blog post, I am on day 60 out of 100, so just (?!) 40 more to go! Here are a few of my favourites from 2021 so far:

Thank You

Thank you for reading my Blog feature and thank you to Stuck in Plastic for asking me. I hope that you have found some of what I had to say interesting and that you managed to take some inspiration from the photographs that I have included. 😊 

Good luck everyone with your creative journeys throughout 2021 and beyond…

© David Gilliver. Thank You!

It’s a Giveaway for 3 lucky readers

For anyone who might be interested, the interactive eBooks can be found on David’s website here: https://davidgilliver.com/product-category/books/ … However, He has also offered 3 lucky readers the chance to win a copy of the Miniature Worlds ebook. All you have to do is reply in the comments and suggest a title for his newest work (see below) and he will pick his 3 favourites.

Give this image a Title to be in with a chance to win.

Where can you find David?

You can find me online here:

Web: www.davidgilliver.com

Insta: @dgilliver https://www.instagram.com/dgilliver/

Facebook: David Gilliver Photography https://www.facebook.com/davidgilliverphoto/

Thank you again for reading my blog-post,

David

SiPgoes53 – Choose Your Man

It’s a bit crazy to think that we’re already this far into 2019… But it’s already September and this week’s human being is left to the choice of everyone. So we asked those who already had come up with a picture to show it and tell us about why they chose that particular person.

Continue reading “SiPgoes53 – Choose Your Man”

Meet David

It’s been a while, but today we are having another SiPgoes53 Feature Friday Interview with David Collomb aka David Grafika.

About David

What can I say? I’m almost 40, a cat lover. I started photography when I was about 18. I live in the countryside of France, 60 km from Lyon where I work.

As I try to find photographic subjects everywhere, my eyes go here and there, I stop while walking and take photos… so people sometimes look at me as if I were an alien. Especially when it’s LEGO photography. ^^

I have a few prints of my pictures behind me at the office, both landscapes and LEGO. It’s always a good point to start a discussion with people. With that, I discovered some of my colleagues are enjoying the plastic too. Yet, it’s not Julien’s wall, haha!

I also pinned to the wall a lot of drawings I found on the internet. Some people are not certain of my aim with this, as it is mostly fierce humour (the best being the one claiming that “everybody brings happiness in this office: some while coming in, some while going out”).

Continue reading “Meet David”

SiPgoes53 – The March Recap

March is over and spring is on its way. Last month we explored Elon Musk, the woman of your choice, Bjarke Ingels, Hedy Lamarr, and Socrates. It’s time to look at your entries that caught our eyes on Instagram.

(If you want to join in the SiP goes 53 series you can still join at your own pace and leisure. Just tag along and creatively explore our handpicked 52 humans. One every week.)

Continue reading “SiPgoes53 – The March Recap”

Meet Ade

About Me

​I live in the northern English county of Cheshire. I am in my early 40’s and married. I have one grown up step-son and two grandchildren. Currently working for the local National Health Service (NHS) Management Accounts team. Outside of my toy photography, I am a fan of science fiction/fantasy movies and books. Currently working my way through Garth Ennis comics.


I first picked up a camera back in 2012 when coming across David Rupp who had an online photography site. Despite living in the United States we have become close friends. He encouraged me to pick up a camera and over the course of 18 months undertook a project called ‘Across the Pond’. Each week we would have a theme and every Sunday would exchange the pictures we took and comment on them. Despite not being very good, David was a great source of encouragement and helped me develop as a hobby photographer.

Continue reading “Meet Ade”

Meet Hanna

It’s friday, it’s time for a new #FeatureFriday interview. Following my interview of two great Toy Photographers women for HispaBrick Magazine 032, let’s meet Hanna (@hannakuvaa on Instagram).

Can you present yourself shortly?

I’m Hanna, a nature and toy photographer living in Finland, on the northern edge of Europe. By education I am a biologist, working as a biology and geography teacher. I got my first film camera for a birthday present when I turned ten, but I only took real interest on photography when I got my hands on a DSLR camera 15 years later.

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Meet Kenton

This week, we’re coming back with our series of #FeatureFriday interviews. Of course, this time not about SiPgoes52, but SiPgoes53. Today it’s Kenton who joins us around a virtual cup of coffee.

About Kenton

I live in Salt Lake City, UT and am the father of four kids that help me build my LEGO creations and, from time to time, even help me set up photos. My day job is working as an e-commerce director at a company that makes bags and travel accessories.

I first started taking toy photos about 4 years ago when my wife bought me some LEGO for Christmas which reignited the passion I always had as a kid of building amazing LEGO sets. I was initially inspired by Avanaut and his work that I had seen on Flickr even before I started getting back into LEGO. Then I discovered Chris McVeigh and started trying to recreate the style of both with certain photos.

Tolkien

I love all types of photography and actually used to have a successful wedding photography business on the side. As my family has grown, I don’t have as much time to do that anymore and toy photography has taken its place. It allows me to miniaturize my subjects and setups, and create awesome shoots with a variety of “models” and sets all in my basement on a small table.

Continue reading “Meet Kenton”

Maria the First

From Poland to France

Maria Skłodowska-Curie is one of the most remarkable Polish scientists.

She was born in 1867 in Warsaw. She had been revealing talents for science since her childhood, but at that time Poland, after the Third Partition, became part of the Russian Empire, and in the area of annexation scientific activity was limited. In addition, women simply were not allowed to study.

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Looking back at SiPgoes52

Now that we’re reaching the end of Week 4 of SiPgoes53, we thought it was about time to create a gallery of photos from those who took part in SiPgoes52.

The main point of SiPgoes52 (and SiPgoes53) was not necessarily to make 52 photos but to find inspiration around a theme. We’ve asked people who shared a picture for at least 12 of the words to send us their personal favorite photo (or word) of SiPgoes52. The one that inspired them most. And to tell us why.

Interestingly, (almost) everyone chose a different word…

Continue reading “Looking back at SiPgoes52”

Meet Karl

Today is our last #SiPgoes52 #FeatureFriday interview. This week’s it’s Karl (aka @lego_minifig_photos) who joins us for a virtual cup of coffee.

About Karl

My name is Karl, I live in the North of England (Leeds) but I am from Wales (Newport) originally. I’m coming up to half a century old, although my daughter thinks I act like a 12-year-old. I’m very settled now but in the past, I have done a lot of travelling in the UK, Australia, and Asia.

I lived in Indonesia for a year as part of my Degree course. I’m married and have a wonderful 10 year old daughter. Music is a big part of my life and I love discovering new music (usually via BBC 6music) and going to gigs.

Surprise.

I work in a primary school and often run an after-school photography club where the kids love taking photos of Lego and making stop-motion animation. I am the go-to person for all LEGO related things in school, even the headteacher acknowledges my expertise. Continue reading “Meet Karl”