My First Toy Safari

I finally did it.

Well, I’ve done it, I’ve finally met a fellow toy photographer!

I’ve wanted to do it for years. I’ve watched from afar, read articles on blogs about Toy Safaris in far-away lands and even posted the odd comment on Instagram and Facebook posts.

The thing is, toy photography has always been a very personal and private thing for me. Yes, I’ve chatted online and even sold some of my work, my friends also know about my toy obsession, but the actual creative process was something I’d always done alone.  Continue reading “My First Toy Safari”

So, why am I going on toy safari in Edinburgh?

First, a little background

My name is Matt, also know as Hellbelly on pretty much every platform, I’ve been taking photographs for about 15 years, and taking toy photos for around 11, although over the last couple of years I’ve been suffering a bit of a creative slump, and have had limited time and inclination to take photos.
This is one of the reasons I’m going to Edinburgh. Continue reading “So, why am I going on toy safari in Edinburgh?”

Save The Date- the 2017 StuckInPlastic ToyPhotoMeetUp

Time is rushing by at the speed of light. A London Toy Safari is just around the corner, most people will already be looking forward to a well-deserved summer vacation and Christmas is displayed in most everyone´s calendars, too.

There´s only one event that is missing: the 2017 Stuck In Plastic Toy Photo Safari.

This year it will take place on the weekend of September 15th/16th/17th.

If so far you´ve only ever read about past toy safaris and thought “Well, next time…” then this is your chance. Reserve the date. Continue reading “Save The Date- the 2017 StuckInPlastic ToyPhotoMeetUp”

Hamburg – My first toy safari

Last May, when Shelly published an article about the Seattle toy safari, I noticed a little note in italic at the end of the article saying:

If you can’t make this meet-up maybe you can make our fall gathering. We’re currently exploring dates in late September for another European meet-up, this time in Hamburg Germany.

What?! The next European toy safari will take place in Hamburg?! I have to be there! Continue reading “Hamburg – My first toy safari”

Subjective perspective

Subjective perspective

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.

Gargoyles
Gargoyle turmoil

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.

A LIGHT IN THE DARK

Oh my…

Just as everyone seems to be all busy preparing their journeys to the north east of the United States and looking forward to this weekend’s Seattle Toy Photography Meet-Up, I´m rather feeling torn between going green with envy and simply being sad because I can´t be there…

…to meet all the fantastic attendees from all over the place!

…to  actually meet many of those tiny digital people from inside my mobile device in real life!

…to get together with like-minded individuals and feel the spirit amongst toy photographers!

…to learn more and more about taking photos and about other cultures´ toys!

…to simply have a massively great time!!!

But, there is a light in the dark.
Continue reading “A LIGHT IN THE DARK”

The Storm Before the Calm

With less than a week to go before the Stuck-In-Plastic Meet-up I can officially say that I have begun my descent into madness.  The preparation, planning, expense and anticipation leading up to an event of this caliber are enough to drive a man straight into the plush, padded rooms of “Arkham Asylum”.  Add on the extra stressors of needing to decide which action figures to take, cleaning camera gear and remembering to pack a toothbrush alongside completing an inconceivable amount of custom action figures and I have effectively topped off my “stress Sunday” with a ripe-red cherry.  So why do we do it?  Why do we add this pressure onto an already weary body while knowingly turning our PTO Balance into a shadow of its former self?  

The answer, to me, is simple.   Continue reading “The Storm Before the Calm”