Creative Tricks for Shooting Photos of Toys

Toy photography has boomed in the last few years, with amateurs and professionals embracing it all over the world. From toy photography to pictures of toy cars – it’s everywhere.

Toy photography often involves close up or extreme close up shots. Here are some things to keep in mind with your camera settings:

Choose a Narrower Aperture for More Details

Essentially, the closer you are to your subject, the less depth of field you’ll have to work with. I stick with an aperture between f/5.6 – f/8, but if it’s close up, I still get the bokeh effect.

Choose your lens wisely, and consider where you place the subjects. To create a decent depth of field, consider stacking your toy photos, which I discuss at tip number 6.

Use Manual Focus to Be Precise

When I’m photographing small details of toys, my camera’s auto focus gets confused. I usually end up switching to manual focus and slowing down my work process.

It’s not easy to check whether auto or manual focus works best for me on that particular day with that particular toy. Some times it takes trial and error, and lots of reviewing images on my computer screen.

Lower Your ISO for Maximum Quality

If you’re using a tripod (definitely recommended), stick with ISO100. This way, you can optimise the light and reduce noise in the photo.

2. Prepare the Right Gear for Toy Photography

Before you start clicking away at your chosen toys, it’s really important to make sure you have the right gear on hand.

Many types of photography work with minimal gear, but when you’re dealing with small toys, some equipment makes the process much easier.

Tripod

Toy photography has similar requirements to still life photography, and a tripod is always at the top of my list. You’ll also need to use a tripod if you want to try your hand at photo stacking.

Using a tripod means that you don’t lug the camera around every time you need to move your toy a fraction.

Shutter Release Cable

Using a shutter release cable is an important step in avoiding camera shake. I find it works much better than holding my breath.

You can also use dedicated camera remote depending on the feature and brand of your camera. Most DSLR’s and mirror less cameras offer built-in WIFI connectivity.

It also enables me to ‘take a step back’ and assess the entire scene and lighting as I click the shutter.

It’s excellent for reducing back pain caused by hunching over the camera’s view finder.

Table or Raised Platform

For flexibility to take photos of toys from different angles, it’s best to have a table to work at. This will help you to get ‘eye-level’ with the toys, just like when you’re photographing humans.

The alternative is crawling around on the floor. It might be good for military training, but not very comfortable for photography.

Backdrops

Have a neutral background on hand that can be used behind and under your toys. You don’t have to spend money – it’s straightforward to make your own backdrops.

I often use a large white background. This is particularly useful when creating a composite photo.

Tools

Toys can be fiddly to photograph. Carry a mini tool kit with small scissors, tweezers, blue tac, and wooden skewers to help with adjustments.

It’s much quicker to chop off a few stray threads and move things delicately with a tool than it is to muck around afterwards.

For the same reason, keep a cloth and general-use spray cleaner on hand. With the close-up nature of your photos, every speck of dust will be seen.

Lighting

Setting up the right lighting for your toy photography can take a bit of trial and error, but it’s worth the effort. Sometimes I use a lamp and/or a flash, but mostly I prefer to use diffused natural light through a window and a reflector.

Use whatever works with your budget and subject matter, but make sure that the light is even and soft.