Playing with toys has been elevated to an art form. A group of amazingly talented Star Wars devotees have gone next-level with their action figures in a series of photos recreating key moments from The Force Awakens. Prompted by Lucasfilm and Hasbro, hundreds of artists submitted their work via Instagram and Twitter, with two dozen jaw-dropping images ultimately selected for display at Comic-Con. Among those participating was famed toy photographer Johnny Wu (a.k.a. @sgtbananas), who provided the initial inspirations for the exhibit. We spoke with Wu (below) to get some tips on taking toy pics and also heard from some of the others whose work was selected. And you don’t have to go to San Diego Comic-Con next week to see these breathtaking photos — just click through our gallery.
OK, tell me how can I take pictures of my, um, son’s toys and make them look good?
One tip I’d give a newcomer, is to try and fill the photo with the figure. The bigger they look, the more believable the shot will be. This works really well in most shots, but not all of them call for it. Try and think of your environment as if you were the figure. Once you start looking at things from a 6-inch point of view some great things can happen!
How long does it take to set up and shoot these kind of detailed scenes?
While each shot is different my process always starts pretty much the same. I set up the figures and get them posed how I want. Then I compose the shot and after that I take a second and figure out the best way to use whatever effect I’m going to implement. Most shots take 10 to 15 [minutes] while more complicated ones can take 40 [minutes] to an hour. If you want the shot bad enough you’ll put the time in to make sure it’s right.
Which of the scenes was most difficult to recreate? Were there any that you’d like to do in the future?
The hardest scene to recreate was the Captain Phasma in the snowy forest. Anytime you have multiple figures in one shot it can be a bit tricky. Working with flour can also be a challenge too. Getting the right amount of snow in the shot takes a bit of finesse. All in all this was a fun shot to do and I’m happy with how it came out!
I’d love to create more scenes from the attack on Jakku battle. I love the look of the village during the attack. Everything has a orange glow from the fire and the ambers are blowing everywhere. That whole scene caught my eye from the get go.
Which figures were your favorite to work with?
Rey and BB-8 were always blast to shoot. Photographing the two of them was like shooting a couple of buddies having a great time. It’s like Luke and Artoo all over again. Another figure I loved was Kylo Ren. He gives off such a menacing vibe and looks great in the most subtle poses. Between the three of those figures there were so many emotions you could capture.