Five Years, Ten Toy Photos

Whenever I talk about toy photography, a couple of my own pictures inadvertently come to mind. It’s not that I consciously picked or even made some sort of list to remember them. It rather feels like they never really got out of sight after I made them; they seem to be here to stay. Here are ten of those pictures off the top of my head.

Take the ‘A’ Train, 2022. I feel like I found a nice balance between abstraction and realism here. The harsh lighting – light bouncing off a ‘brick’ wall behind the rail car – emphasizes the graphic quality of this shot, and a composition defined by the symmetry of the windows and the asymmetrical arrangement of the figures inside the car. And the figures, I think, tell their own story.

Prelude to a Kiss, 2022. One thing I like about music, and jazz in particular, is that it brings people together; and one thing I love about this picture is the arrangement of the crowd. When I look at this picture, I seem to hear the soundtrack of dance music, conversational murmur, shuffling feet and clinking glasses. And there’s so much going on in this picture. Did you notice the gaze of the guy to the right?

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Flights of Fancy

Toy photography and flights of fancy: it almost seems like a defining combination. Wouldn‘t it be nice to just have a huge wall with a couple of tiny windows and a backlit „Tickets“ sign? Then I could show a long line of people waiting to get one. And can I translate the jazz music played at a concert into a picture?

Flights of fancy indeed, and when I build these 1/87 scale dioramas or set up scenes, it often seems like they will remain just that. Other times, things turn out quite well (if not always the way I would have expected). These two pictures are from my jazz series. The titles are Broadway Blues and Jumpin’ at the Woodside, after the respective songs composed by Ornette Coleman and Count Basie.

Treasure Hunt?

This week’s contribution for the Lens-Artists’s Challenge #219: Treasure Hunt: two reflections. Originally hunting for a picture that would somewhat illustrate the Beatles’ Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds and be photographed through things (for yet another challenge), I first tried what I could do with this figure and a glass vase. The pictures turned out to be nothing like what I’d had in mind. However, I came to like these ‘test’ pictures better than the one actually showing “the girl with kaleidoscope eyes” through a piece of cellophane. So always hold on to your test shots! They may turn out to be treasures you found without immediately realizing.

The Thirsty Ear

(JD Allen)

“Minton’s was just a place for cats to jam. People didn’t pay too much attention to what was going on, I mean the people there that weren’t musicians. So when you went in, you’d see cats half-stewed who weren’t paying much mind to what was happening on stage. But the musicians were.” Carmen McRae

Urban Environments

Take The ‘A’ Train (Billy Strayhorn)

As I go through my pictures of miniature scenes, I find one commen denominator: urban environments. I obviously find myself drawn to urban settings, to the world of alleys, bars, theaters, and public transportatiou. Here’s a retrospective celebrating the city and its lights (and shadows) in H0 scale.

While the vehicles and figures (and the phone booth) come from the toy store, the buildings are custom made, mostly from scratch.

Boats … and Automobiles

The Alster Fleet in Hamburg – these boats are waiting to take tourists around on the river Alster, as I was surprised to find out when we visited a couple of years ago. Because I remember that when I was a boy, we used to hop on these boats to get from A to B, with this very fleet servicing the waterways like any other public transportation. For us kids, it was great fun to take the boat when we went visiting relatives.

However, since this week’s Lens Artists’ Challenge specifically asked for Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, here’s a picture with autos…