#OutOfTheBox: Toy Photography For Newbies

by Matthew Escosia
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by Bleu Gutierrez

Growing up, we all know that toys played a big part of our memorable childhood days. To bring back a strong wave of nostalgia for you, we all had our very own beloved and most taken care of toys popular from the ‘90s and the early 2000s: From those Beyblade toys every boy back in the day used to rave and fight over on to see who has got the best gear, from those iconic Mattel Barbie® Doll every girl grew up with, from the yoyo toys each one of us used to compete against each other with, and even to those buildable and all time loved Lego brick toys that sparked one’s creativity—just name it! Everybody had their own toys that best suited what they like or what matched their personalities most as children.

To sum it all up, toys are more than what they are. Toys don’t just bring joy to children, but it also brings joy to kids at heart! And yep! You’ve guessed it: some people don’t really grow out on toys. As the famous saying goes, “Boys never grow up. They just get older and their toys get more expensive.”

If it’s still unknown to you, the Philippines, just like the U.S., also has its very own pop culture convention dedicated to all things toys! Local Toy conventions like TOYCON (The Philippine Toys, Hobbies and Collectible Convention) and TAGCOM, which in the same light, annually celebrate the passion for hobbies, toy and product merchandise collecting, cosplay, and everything else pop culture!

Owing to the immense and overwhelming toys that emerge in the market these days, a lot of passionate individuals have upped their game by turning to toy photography as a hobby. Rather than keeping their beloved and “most priced” (pun intended) toys caged in their boxes and letting dust consume them as time flies by, others have decided to bring their toys to real life by taking thematic shots and sharing their photos with the whole world through social media platforms like that of Instagram and Facebook. What for? To spread creativity, of course!

Photos allow us to showcase our personal styles, interests, relationships, and adventures to mark the passage of time, as perceived by some. But no matter how you look at it, every photo has a unique story behind it. To some avid folks, toys can in some measure represent one’s aspirations and fantasies in life.

The reason toy photography is so in these days because it unleashes one’s creativity to capture shots of their toys, that are reimagined to give life to a still, inanimate object.

Initially, the very first step to getting engaged into toy photography is by actually having a subject to shoot. Yup, you read that one right. It obviously means that you are gonna need to have a toy that you can work with for the photoshoot session. If you are already familiar with or adept at photography, you would absolutely have no problemo achieving a noob-proof photo. The basics shouldn’t be that much of a quirk for you. But if you are a newbie to toy photography (and to toy collecting altogether), then don’t be too taken aback for this piece will teach and guide you in every step along the way! Sit tight and keep on reading to know the rest!


Of course, to get started, you would need to have the following (NOT A STARTER PACK) in your, ahem, arsenal:

The first and one of the most essential tiers of your arsenal should be your equipment, and it’s none other than your trusty camera (or phone). 1 Mirrorless cameras are very trendy nowadays. Not only are they lightweight and easy to use, but one of the pros of using mirrorless cameras is that the colors of your images really pop so editing won’t be too much of a burden for you, especially if you are having trouble setting your camera on manual mode. However, mirrorless cameras are more sensitive to light than that of the standard 2 DSLR cameras. But either way, you would still get the similar results if you set your settings correctly.3-4 Your mobile phones are also reliable when it comes to taking pictures, just be sure to enable HDR mode so the quality of the photo would not get compromised. Aside from your phone being the ever-so-handy tool, choosing your phone shall also make the post-processing easier and more convenient for you.


Setting your professional camera isn’t actually that difficult once you get to orient yourself with how the camera’s ISO (click the link to know more and to go in-depth) works. Trick is, all that’s critical here is figuring the right lighting for your shot. The results of your photos will depend on the environment that you are immersing yourself in, and how sensitive your camera is to both natural outdoor and artificial indoor light.

Source: phonearena.com


And of course, let us not forget the main spotlight–your toys! The holy grail!

From left to right: Customized LEGO, Nendoroid Figure by Goodsmile Company, Funko POP! Vinyl by Funko, NECA Toys, Dark Horse Figure, ⅙ scale Hot Toys Figure

There’s quite an array of toy varieties out there, and sometimes finding the right one is almost like finding a needle in a haystack—but fret not! It actually doesn’t matter what kind of toy you are shooting as long as you have the inspiration and an environment where you will be rendering the photoshoot. If you don’t have a toy yet, you can go head to a toy store and pick out the toy that you like most to shoot (and to keep, of course). There are plenty of stores nationwide and most of them even have a site where you could effortlessly pick whatever you like and have your loot delivered right to your doorstep with just a few clicks away. But if you really wish to get up close and personal with your loot for inspection and whatnot, go drop by at your favorite malls to bring one home.


Aside from your camera and your toys, you can also add some props to your arsenal for that extra edge. Optional props like a 1 lightbox (see below) can help you achieve those in-store like photos to showcase your toy with a clean white background for easy editing. If you still want to up your game, try purchasing 2 color filters for your flashlights. Not only that it will add to the mood of your photo but it will also make your shots magical.

Here are some shots with the use of color filters:

Featured Toys: Funko POP! Vinyl toys by Funko

Finding the right shot and angle isn’t as hard as it looks as long as you are stricken with inspiration. To get into the right mood and to squeeze your creative juice to the max, you could take some shots or scenes from the movie, game, or series that you are trying to bring to life. The tricky part of toy photography is the ability to get rid of that plastic feeling of your toys and make it look or appear more human to strike for a pose.

Featured Toys: 1/6th Scale Collectible Figures by Hot Toys


For editing and post processing, bear in mind that this is completely optional but it can serve as the cherry on top of your cake. Install free photo editing software applications like Lightroom and VSCO to your phones or devices. Usually, only a few tweaks are made: sharpening, adjustment of the brightness and darkness of the image, and enhancing the color saturation are one of the basic things that most people fix. Don’t be afraid to play with lights and filters!

Editing software: Adobe Lightroom CC

Just compare the two and see the difference for yourself!

Editing software: Abobe Lightroom CC and Adobe CS6 Photoshop
Featured Toy: Funko POP! Vinyl by Funko

Don’t be too hesitant in using effects for your photos as well. A few tweaks here and there could make a big difference.

Now, the last part has everything to do with publishing. Social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook are one of top sites where you could share your works. Be interactive and use a lot of hashtags to get your profile noticed by fellow toy collectors and toy photographers alike. The best way to get your works spotted is by uploading them on Instagram and by using hashtags. Following other toy collectors, toy photographers and toy enthusiasts altogether will also let you get the much-deserved recognition—you can make new friends along the way, too!

Photos, being in its most main function or purpose, have the ability to immortalize moments of our lives. We should all be mindful that photos are more than just clicking your camera’s shutter button – they also hold cherishable memories, fragments or moments of our lives we don’t ever want to forget. Photos evoke nostalgia, which is why photos are more than what they are, just like toys. Each photo captured is a work of art, and it can surely bring joy to both you and other people’s faces and hearts as well!

Did all that bombard you with enough inspiration to get creative yet? So what are you waiting for? Grab your toy, take it out of its box, shoot, share, and have FUN!

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