Photographing toys is a wonderful way for your children to let their creativity run wild.
Skills needed for photographing toys include macro and still life photography but does not require any additional equipment other than a phone camera.
Starting to photograph toys
Rather than diving straight into creating a complex narrative with complicated lighting and multiple characters its best to start off simple. Think of this photographic task as a warm up to a bigger project.
Choose your toy to photograph
We began with a single white tiger from my daughter’s extensive toy tiger collection. It’s a good choice as it is not only an interesting subject but it can stand on its own. It does have limitations in regards to movement that some toys have though.
Choose a setting for your toy photography
We decided to photograph our toy tiger in the garden. It limited us to using natural lighting but offered plenty of natural settings that you won’t find inside the home.
It is important to think about the time of day when using natural lighting and you are of course at the mercy of the weather.
Even on a nice day you’re going to be photographing on your hands and knees so make sure you dress appropriately.
If you choose to photograph your toy inside then make sure you have enough natural light or you are using addition light sources.
This will give you more control over how your toy is lit.
Photographing toys quick tips
Get down low and photograph your toy at eye level to your toy. This will create a more natural looking image.
Keep an eye on lighting. Watch how light falls on your toy. Does moving it make it look better?
Make sure you don’t get your own shadow in the photos unless it’s part of the look you are going for.
Get close but not too close to your toy. Your camera needs to be a certain distance away from your toy to focus. Concentrate on filling the frame whilst still making sure the toy is in focus.
Try lots of different settings. Experiment with different areas in your setting. What colours look best with your toy?
Our Tiger Photoshoot
Being a nice sunny day we chose to photograph our toy tiger in the garden.
Our garden could really do with being visited with a mower which added to the variety and length of grass available.
We began with the tiger walking through some of the longer areas of grass and patches of clover.
The phone we were using to take the photos was pretty much at ground level the whole time.
As we moved over nearer to the trees we found patches of moss covered ground which made a really interesting landscape.
Soon we were into the trees and bushes and using twigs and leaves at create interesting scenery.
In total the whole toy tiger Photoshoot took about 45 minutes as we were limited by the available spaces in our garden.
If I were to do this again I would photograph later on in the afternoon when the lighting is lower and shadows are longer. I’d also do it in a local park or woods where there is a larger variety of natural settings.
We didn’t edit the pictures other than cropping as we wanted to keep the look as natural as possible.
We did create a montage in Adobe Spark to share and print.
Creating an artwork from your photos
As fun as these photographing toys projects are it’s always nice to do something with your finished photos.
Creating an artwork for your child’s room is easy to do without complicated tools like Photoshop.
One phone app I really like is Insta Toon. This app makes it easy to apply artistic styles to your photos. There are also advanced controls to experiment with to achieve unique results.
We edited on of our tiger photos using Insta Toon and its impressionist style. We then boosted the colours and contrast in the Snapseed editing app.
To finish off the image ready to print we added a colourful boarder using Adobe Spark.