Behind the Scenes with Force Dad Photography

This photo is so amazing! How long have you been photographing toys? What was it that first drew you to this medium?

I’ve been photographing toys for 4 years. It was pure chance. I used to take pictures of mid-century modern furniture but after a while, you get tired of taking different angles of chairs for social media. With toy photography, I can create an unlimited number of scenes to fill an Instagram feed. No actors, models, and often, no location scouting.

What are some of your favorite Star Wars memories, and how have they inspired your art?

My memories of Star Wars will always be of that with my brother and dad in the late 70s. It was a good time and there were some toys I never got like the Millennium Falcon and AT-AT that I get to have now through (the excuse) of my children. Actually watching them open the toys and playing with them gives me a chance of a second childhood which is always great AND is the main inspiration behind my photography. We make up new scenes and they turn into photo shoots.


Call me OG Kenner fan if you will. Even after the sequel trilogy ends, I will still take pictures inspired by these iconic movies even as I look forward to the Mandalorian and other new mediums.


~ Force Dad Photography

What’s the inspiration behind this shot—why was it important for you to recreate this particular scene?

As a toy photographer, you always want to have a unique scene no one has done before. I may be wrong but I actively engage and look at hundreds of #hasbrotoypic images and have not seen a “battle of Crait scene” yet

Walk us through the steps involved in recreating this scene.

This is a standard wide shot with digital retouching. I guess the real scene was also green-screened with CGI landscape. Practical shots are ideal but there isn’t a location nearby that proximate that desolate barren landscape. Plus in the movie, the salt floor is white. The closest I got was sand. I took my daughter to the local beach and we scooped up some sand. Then I just layered it based on images/video I searched on the internet. I used a cheap light box and played around with artificial light as well as outdoor light. I ended up with outdoor, natural lighting.

Then the rest was retouching on the iPad Pro using Affinity Photo. My main tool for retouching is the iPad and I’ve commented in the past how liberating it is for me to do retouching anywhere. When the kids go to swim lesson or when I am on my commute to work. That is where I do the lightsaber FX, motion blur, and compositing using the iPad pen.

 he challenge is always to get the color grading to give it a cinematic look. Then you have the compositing with depth-of-field. If the background sky is too sharp and the floor is blurred, it can look odd.

What to hope to evoke with your work?

That toy photography is something anyone can do it. Even kids. I get a lot of DM messages on how I do my FX on Instagram and I usually give pointers and links to tutorials I’ve done. Then a few months later, I see those individuals posting some great shots. They often tag me in the photos which is great so I can check it out. You don’t need fancy gear like a full frame DSLR. There are some shots where the field of view is so close and narrow a smart phone is the best option.

Of course the best photos I’ve seen involve a narrative; a story to tell. It doesn’t have to follow canon material, it could be something entirely made up and that is what interests me as a fan - someone else having their take on the lore. Hope you guys enjoy it and go out and experiment.

This is the final installment of our 8-part #HasbroToyPic/Star Wars series covering the epic battles of the Star Wars saga.