Behind the Scenes with Toy Photographer, Duane Shoots Toys
Q: What was it that got you interested in action figure photography?
A: One day while browsing YouTube, I stumbled upon a video of a photographer who was taking photos of model cars. I was fascinated by the way they were able to take an inanimate object and bring it to life through photography. I kept searching and eventually discovered an online community of action figure photographers. I decided to try it out myself and fell in love with it instantly.
Q: You recently photographed the Lord Drakkon EVO III action figure from the Power Rangers Lightning Collection. Can you give our readers some details about your approach to that project?
A: I enjoy putting characters in unexpected situations, and for this scene I decided to place Lord Drakkon in a store checkout line, buying his own action figure. In order to do this, I first needed to build a miniature version of the Lord Drakkon toy packaging. I took photos of the box from several angles and then constructed a miniature template, which I printed out and folded together. I then built the store conveyer belt and the rest of the backdrop out of foamboard and paper, and filled out the scene using various toy props that I had lying around.
Q: As an artist, what are some of the things you draw inspiration from?
A: I often draw inspiration from real-life situations. As I go through my day, running errands and doing various tasks, I ask myself "would this situation make a good toy photo?" I really enjoy creating scenes of action figures shopping, playing video games, and doing other everyday things.
Q: In your opinion, what is the most important element of a great action figure photograph?
A: Personally, I like to focus on creating interesting backdrops and miniature props. I try to add as much detail into a scene as possible to make it look as realistic as I can. Elements like posing and lighting are also very important in making the shot come to life. At the end of the day, I try to evoke some kind of feeling or emotion through my photography - often I'll focus on humor or nostalgia.
Q: Any advice for aspiring action figure photographers? What’s the one thing you wish someone had told you when you started out?
A: Practice, practice, practice! The key to getting better at something is doing it often. Don't be afraid to experiment with new ideas and try things that are outside your comfort zone. Study the work of other photographers and try to identify the elements that make their shots intriguing. And finally, engage with people in the community - there's a large number of action figure photographers on social media, and many of them are willing to offer help and advice.