23 March 2008




I took 146 photos before I was satisfied. The objects took over an hour to gather together and set up.

I knew what I wanted from this and had been meaning to do it for a while, I just knew it would be hard work and time consuming so I kept putting it off. It was difficult and some parts of it were boring, but I did enjoy it overall. I am please with the results, seeing as I had two desk lamps and a just-above-entry-level digital camera.

These photos are inspired by - but not copied from - I Spy Mystery: A book of picture riddles by Walter Wick and Jean Marzollo which is a children's book but the photographs have a sumptious enigma about them which always intrigues me.

I chose this lighting to enhance the mysterious feel and to make the colour and shadows more interesting. Had this been shot in ordinary light, the toys would have just looked like a temporarily abandoned play spot. Playing is lively and involves movement. With this lighting, I hoped to remove any elements of life (which would be why they call it still life, I suppose!) and liveliness and making it look static and ever so slightly odd (that's not to say sinister - it's not supposed to be that at all).

I didn't want my photos to make a statement or tell a story, I simply wanted them to hold the same sort of enigmatic attraction as the ones by Walter Wick. I wanted them to raise questions and leave the viewer wanting to know more. Have these toys been abandoned? Where are they? Why are they here? Whose are they? What other toys lurk in the shadows? Where is the light coming from - is there someone else in the room? These questions aren't meant to be answered - there are no answers. The toys are simply there.

To begin with, the toys look old-fashioned and at first appear to show toys from the thirties to fifties, but on closer inspection the Rubik's cube and Viewmaster are all too evident.

Even choosing a title for these photos was difficult. I didn't want to suggest anything to the viewer that the photo didn't already suggest. I thought of 'Scattered Childhood' but this would have been too negative. 'Darkened Nursery' suggested a location. 'Toy Box' would almost have done, but would have been a bit too boring and again it suggests a location. 'Play' or 'Playthings' puts action back into the equation. I almost settled with 'Memories' or 'Memory Box', but didn't want to imply that they toys were no longer used. In the end I had to settle for the title 'Toys' but I'm still not quite sure about it... Update: I have now changed it to 'Games'. If you prefer the previous title, please tell me!

Anyway, what I'm banging on about and trying to explain is that I tried to create and capture a sumptious picture of nostalgia, fun, intrigue, mystery, fascination and...puzzlement. I'd like to believe I succeeded and I'm very interested in hearing what you think.

The set-up:


John Reynolds said...

Well done - love the last one, it works very well. There's a strong tungsten cast to the pictures, but that warm look works with the subject. Very nice....

ShutterSpy said...

@John: thanks! :-D

I could have taken the cast off, but I wanted it to be there, so it's alomost as if the photo or things in it have yellowed slightly with age.

I also wanted to give it a warm, slightly nostaligic feeling and making it look...what's the word I'm looking for? Not eerie...slightly sort of surreal.

Thanks for your comment - I was beginning to think no one was bothered with ShutterSpy any more!


Suzanne said...

Well, I'll be really honest with you sweetie, I lingered on the photos a long, long time. It was after looking and lingering I realized you had text too! Wow! Nice combo. As you might expect, I'm a very visual person, so when I'm attracted by something, it's for a very good reason.

First, seeing the photos brought back so many memories of growing up with my bothers and sisters. We played lots and lots of games and had a blast, until someone got mad because someone cheated! You know the drill. My eye was, and continues to be, drawn to the giraff. Perhaps because it's in the center, or perhaps because I'm a huge fan of Early American History and Folk Art and love the old animal pull toys in 18th and 19th century homes.

It's funny, but I never saw any of the modern toys! Isn't that odd. You created such a visual feast with both the displayed and lighing, I never noticed I was actually living in 2008. Now that's good! Beautiful photos. Thanks for making such an effort.

Love you!

P.S. It's nice to see John here :)
P.P.S. I'm going to buy some photos as soon as I get myself organized around here. I have to really sit and look before I make my selection. I'm glad you're offering them. Wonderful idea!

Suzanne said...

Wow, I just read below that you're thinking about closing up shop. That would make me sad, but I understand. My opinion of course is, please don't because I love to come here and I think your work is beautiful, but on the other hand I know that if this isn't working for you, perhaps moving in a different direction would be more satisfying and productive. However, don't go anywhere without getting my email. You can get it through John or Robyn. If you just leave and I never hear from you again, I won't forgive you. Do you understand? Please don't do that to those of us who care about you.

Sweetie, have you considered trying to find a gallery to represent you? Don't close your blog just yet because it's a wonderful resource and gallery owners can stop by and take a peek at your work. Also, John might be a good sounding board. He photographs for a living, so email him with your concerns and hopes and perhaps he can move you in the right direction. He's a great guy to talk to.

Love you dear. XO

ShutterSpy said...

@Suzanne: Thanks so much for your nice comments.

My eye, too, is always drawn to the giraffe. It seems to stand out as a kind of silent, unseeing sentinel (although that would make no sense - I do talk the most awful twaddle sometimes!)

I'm glad you like the photos :-D

I don't think I'll close ShutterSpy after all - for a short time I wasn't getting any hits or comments and I thought people had got bored (wouldn't blame them!).

I'm glad the place isn't entirely deserted! :-D

ShutterSpy said...

Oh, and I might upload these for sale as posters/prints too, but the trouble is, £10 is a lot but it needs to be quite high because the publisher takes some money.

I'm looking for a better online self-publishing photo shop. If you find one (that I can use in the UK and my foreign visitors can use too), then please let me know :-D

elena said...

These photos are really good... I like them a lot :D ... it's weird that you managed to take such good photos from such a seemingly boring set up... does that make sense? .. probs not... :S ..lol... anyway, well done :D :D :D

ShutterSpy said...

@Elena: Boring set-up? lol

I possibly see what you mean...or maybe not :-P

I'm glad you like them! :-D

Oh, and this must be a record for the number of comments on a ShutterSpy post! :-D

...Except four of them are mine...oh well ;-D

Hope to see you soon! :-D

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