Want to shoot dynamic action packed images of your favorite collectibles? Now you can! We reached out to some of the pros on Instagram for some awesome tips so you can step up your toy photography game. Read more on lighting, posing, composition, and camera tips below and try them out for yourselves!
Pat Choko Toy Photography (@patchokophotography)
“Never underestimate the importance of lighting. Lighting sets the whole mood of the piece. Take inspiration not only from your favorite photographers, but also filmmakers. Remember: movies are just moving pictures. A lot of my own inspiration comes from the films of directors like James Cameron and Dario Argento, which is why I use a lot of mist and vibrant colors. That all comes from being a huge movie buff my entire life. Experiment with different colors and different degrees of light and shadow; you want to literally be able to paint with light.”
Kyle J. (@cap_wolf_photos)
“My photography tip would be, do not sleep on backlighting. A well placed light directly on the back of your figure, or pointed at the background can separate the figure from the back of the scene and add depth to your shot.”
Robert Swanson (@bobofnmac)
“No matter the reason for capturing a photo of a cool collectible, the biggest thing to remember is to have fun. I cannot emphasize this enough. You can have all the expensive tools and software to make your photo stand out to the eye, but if you are not enjoying the collectible or the process behind it, what’s the point at the end of the day?
If you take away the fun factor, here are several tips that can help you out in your journey into the toy world. One would be playing around with the item you plan on shooting. Learn how it moves if you are going for an action shot. If you are going for a portrait-style snap, find the details that pop on the item that you want to showcase. Another suggestion is don’t be afraid to play around with the perspective. See what backdrops, dioramas, or natural settings make the item stand out. And never be afraid of getting feedback from people. I learn something new every day from people letting me know what they like and don’t like.”
(The Muppets Swedish Chef Action Figure)
Jason M. (@jasonbmichael)
"Finding the right pose for the figures to tell the story you want to tell is essential. No matter how good the lighting or framing are in your photo, if the figure’s pose is off, you break the illusion you are trying to create, and lose your viewer’s attention.
Posing figures is what I spend the most time on. Normally, when I receive a new figure, I sit at my dining room table, take the figure out of the packaging and get to know it. I try posing it in a variety of manners in order to test its limits. I do this very carefully. There’s nothing worse than hearing a snap and noticing that you now have a piece of the figure in each hand; it’s happened a few times … Moreover, don’t be afraid to try poses that are not typical of the figure you’re getting to know. Just because the figure is a Muppet doesn’t mean it isn’t on the hunt for some wild game ;). Posing figures against type will generate many ideas for shots, but also give you a better understanding of the range the figure has to offer.
Now, this may seem esoteric, but don’t be afraid to “upload” emotions to the figure. While I’m posing the figures, I make faces; emoting happy or sad or surprised, I try to convey that in the figure’s body language. At times, I’ll get up from the table and walk around and check my body language, the positioning of my body; hands, feet, head, shoulders etc. This really helps to sell a natural pose, which in turn will help sell the photo."
Jason Olney (@spiderman_1974)
Lighting is the most crucial factor in creating a successful image. It sets the tone and mood of the picture and determines how bright or dark the photo is. Learning to control and manipulate how the light strikes the subject will elevate your figure photography. You don't need expensive lights to get great results. A few table lamps with dimming capabilities are all you need to get started.
Next to lighting, this is the single most crucial aspect of toy photography. Posing takes practice. If you want to get better at posing, look at the source material for your subject and watch photography posing videos online. This will help you in creating natural and dynamic setups. Putting in the time and effort to make the figures look as natural as possible will elevate your work. It's also the best part of figure photography.
You have your lights right; the posing is on point - so now be creative. Don't just shoot straight ahead. Move the camera around. Photograph your subject from high angles, low angles, and from the sides. It will give you a different perspective and add to the quality of your photos.”
Rob D. (@robdtoys)
“Lens choice can make a huge impact. If you want to show more of the environment and how your subjects interact with them, a wider lens can work great. If you want to focus in on your subject and want to get rid of any unwanted space then a telephoto is a good option! Just watch the minimum focusing distance of your lens. If you get too close you won't be able to focus properly and will need to back up.
Composition is key! Try to move around the scene to find the best angles. Get low, try high or move to either side. Your composition can help tell a story or emotion. Where do you want the eye of the viewer to see first?
Find good light, whether it is natural light, continuous or strobe. There are so many ways to light your subject or scene, experiment! Side lighting your subject will show more detail by allowing the shadows to sculpt the figure. Shadows can be an asset!”
Tag us in your own toy photography of Diamond Select items for a chance to be featured on our Instagram page! Part 2 is coming soon! @collectdst