Kirk Schwarz over at Practical Photography recently put together a short tips video for anybody who wants to get into toy photography. If you’ve never taken these kinds of photos but have always wanted to try, you’ll find Schwarz’ tips for shooting an “explosive” toy photo on a budget in the video above.

The five tips included in the video are fairly basic, which makes sense given the audience they’re aimed at. From gathering props for your background, to camera settings, to safety, they cover all of the basics:

  1. Use stones, rocks, pebbles and moss from your garden or a local park to create your scene.
  2. Use a fast aperture to help create atmosphere and depth in the image.
  3. When you’re starting out, continuous lighting (LED panels) will be easier to use and manage compared to strobes.
  4. Use the self-timer function on your camera to eliminate any shake or vibration that might be caused by pressing the shutter.
  5. Be extremely careful when working with any kind of fire

Over the course of the video, you can follow along as Schwarz sets up the shot, captures all of the frames he needs, and combines the various practical effects photos into a final image. Sure, the final product isn’t on par with the masterpieces we’ve seen from the likes of Mitchel Wu or Matthew Callahan or Felix Hernandez, but it also took significantly less time and effort to create.

Here’s the final shot, in case you want to take a closer look:

Check out the full video up top to see how the shot was created from start to finish, then, as a bonus, head over to the Practical Photography website to download the custom Photoshop brushes that Schwarz used to create the rain and fog effects. And if you like this kind of thing, check out this significantly more “explosive” toy photography tutorial from Raj Khepar we published a couple of weeks ago.


Image credits: Photo by Kirk Schwarz/Practical Photography and used with permission.