When photographing toys, we often want to make them look as if they’re doing something. We want to shoot some kind of action to create a dynamic, interesting scene. But how do we do it with objects that, in reality, just stand there and not move? Four Bricks Tall will teach you how. In this video, you’ll learn how to add a sense of movement to your figurines and do it all in-camera without any special effects.
The video breaks down the entire setup, guiding you step by step through every segment of it. Many things will vary depending on the scene you’re shooting: the gear you own, the scene you want to create, the colors in your image… But there are some tips that everyone can apply to achieve the best motion effect possible.
First, use a background that contrasts with your subject. If the subject is bright, use a dark background and vice versa. Use a continuous light source on one side of your subject to create light trails, and you can use either a flash or another continuous light as your key light.
Then, use something your figurine will stand on. If you use Lego, it can be one of the long bricks from your kit. You can also use a popsicle stick or a spoon and fix your toy onto it with some putty. These are only some of the solutions that popped into my mind, but the point is that you’ll use this to move your subject back and forth. Don’t forget to add a marker to the place where you want your figurine to land in the shot.
Now, set your figurine on the marker and focus on it manually. Set the focus and leave it, and set your camera to a somewhat slow shutter speed (around 1s should work). It’s also recommended to use a remote shutter so you don’t have to touch the camera and shake it.
Set your lights, set the camera, and now it’s time to shoot. Move your figurine away from the marker and press the shutter. Then, slowly drag it towards that marker you created and stop there. You want to make the move as smooth as possible so there are no jitters visible in the streaks. Your continuous light will produce the streaks that add the sense of movement, whereas your key light will make the subject opaque so that the background doesn’t show through. If you use a flash for your key light, make sure to set rear curtain sync on your camera.
You can create two types of movement with this technique. If you slide the bar evenly and create light streaks behind your figurine. Alternatively, you can make short stops during the exposure and create a so-called “chrono effect.” Both effects look great, they’re simple to create, and they’re made entirely in-camera.
Make sure to watch the video for a full walkthrough and examples, and check out more work from Four Bricks Tall on Instagram.
[Capturing Movement for Toy Photography | Four Bricks Tall]