07 June, 2008

The Toybox Challenge

I never had a real toy box growing up. Sure, I had a cardboard box large enough to hide in and it happened to have a toys in it, but it was never what one would call a “toy box” in the traditional sense. I still don’t have a toy box, a couple of shoe boxes and some postal boxes filled with toys, spray paint, and other accellerants maybe, but nothing that truly says “toy box.” That’s probably not going to change, but the Toybox Challenge will still be the Toybox Challenge. “Why?” you read silently to yourself. Well, because that will be the concept.

Lately I have been busy with other commitments and haven’t been able to shoot as much as I would like. Being primarily an event shooter also means that my schedule is really reliant on somebody else’s schedule. Also, my Heroes and Villains toy shoots have been slow going because of the amount of preproduction that seems to continually increase and the latest shot went through a concept change in the last couple of days.

So in order to keep my trigger finger itchy, I will figuratively be “reaching into the toy box” and pulling out something random and unexpected to shoot. I say figurative because as I mentioned I don’t have a toy box, but also as a part of this I want the shoots to push my creativity. Why random toys? For starters, I shoot a very small subset of product. Secondly, I don’t want to know what I’m shooting until I have to shoot it. If I walk into a toy shop and just look around, I’ll pick something that interests me, which at the same time will influence what I’m shooting and how I do it. Yes, it’s still creative, but does it really push the boundaries of what I’m able to do? Maybe, maybe not. So the next question is how do I make this into a challenge, especially in selecting my subjects?

Today I went to Twist & Shout because I know they carry vinyl collector figurines that come in blind packaging (they also have an excellent selection of vinyl records. I nearly walked out with six Sinatra albums). For those of you that collect baseball cards, it’s the exact same concept: you don’t know what’s coming in the box. This is only a first step solution, because even though I don’t know what toy I’ll be shooting, I was still able to choose styles that I found interesting (Zoomies and Bamboo Zoo, respectively). We’ll work out all of the kinks out later, but for now I think I’m ready for the challenge to begin. What’s the challenge in shooting toys, even randomly? Well, I’m glad I asked. If you’ve seen some of my earlier toy shots, I don’t shoot them as straight product. I shoot them with more of an editorial style, trying to capture what makes these toys whatever they are. You do that with all photography, using the camera to show who and what your subject is all about and not just the subject.

So I guess we should have some guidelines:

Prescript the first: as much as possible, get a random toy.

Prescript the second: Shoot it within two weeks.

Two weeks?! Hey, I’m doing this for fun and making it stressful would be not fun. And I figure that that’s a good enough time frame that I’ll keep on top of it.

So here it is, Toybox Challenge: Round one:
Subject: Zoomies and Bamboo Zoo (shouldn’t have gotten two)
Start date: June 7, 2008
End date: June 21, 2008

So that’s the challenge. Let the madness begin.

(If you happen to come across something, let me know. If I can get my hands on it, I’ll shoot it. Let’s see what hi-jinks we can get into.)

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