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Showcasing Memorylane_79

A bit about me

My name is Martin and I am from the South of England. My Toy Photography Instagram ID is memorylane_79 (https://www.instagram.com/memorylane_79/).


I have been taking toy photos since September 2021. I am primarily a Landscape and Wildlife photographer, but during Covid I watched a YouTube video by SirDork and thought that I would give it a go, as I thought it looked simple and was amazed by the different effects that were achieved by the use of Atmos Aerosol and Fireworks, as well as the good ol’ Drain Unblocker for firing air into the shots.

Becoming Hooked

I got a bit hooked with buying different toys and trying different things, and learned as I went along, having some most epic fails, but also developing as a photographer and improving along the way. I suppose the saying of “Takes no time to learn, but it’ll take a lifetime to master”, is so true when it comes to toy photography.

I started entering the different challenges that SirDork does each month, and the community spirit on YouTube started to grow. I learned more from different photographers on there and ways of improving each month. I still remember my first image that I submitted for the challenge #sirdorkcandy, where I used a Pennywise the Clown and had Celebration chocolates floating around him for the saying “They all float down here”. From there my image was reviewed and I was hooked.

Finding Toy Photography UK

I happened upon the Toy Photography UK group on Facebook and started to enter the weekly challenges and then I’ve just been lucky enough to be teamed up with Kane Woodking who is an amazing photographer and the “Master of Balance” and we’ve reached the final of the Summer Knockout Challenge. We’re bouncing ideas off each other at the moment and hope to get a good shot for the final. I have to say though that everyone in the group is so friendly and encouraging to each other. I have high hopes for the way things are going and the direction things are going. I can’t wait to see what the future brings.


Gear

As for the gear that I use, I have always been a Canon user and have

e a 1DX MKII. This is primarily for the wildlife stuff that I do, but also works really well for the Landscapes and the Toy Photography as well. I would say that I use my 70-200 mkii most of the time when doing toy shots, and have the camera set up on a tripod and use a shutter release, as I seem to always be using fireworks or the air blasting to add a bit of movement and action to the shot and need a free hand. Often, I will ask my 6-year-old daughter or wife to help as well if things get too complicated and I need to light fireworks and use the air blower as well at the same time. I remember one shot I took for #sirdorkfamily where I have Woody, Buzz and Sporky in front of some fireworks and I had to light 6 Crackling Balls as well as take the shot. Thank God for the extra set of hands there.

What I collect now

I am trying to specialise a little more in the toys that I use these days, as opposed to spending a fortune on everything, I now only spend a small fortune on certain figures. I love the 6 inch Black Series Star Wars figures and have quite a collection of them. I also love to collect the DC Multiverse figures, and being a huge Batman fan helps there. The other set I have started collecting recently are the MDLX Transformers toys. When I was younger I had literally 100’s of Transformers (that my daughter has since inherited) so it made sense to collect thee too. I have a few shots planned for some of my old Transformers though, so make sure you follow me on Instagram. I have collected other figures as well like the Neca TMNT, some Lichoo Marvel (although I would not recommend them as the Wolverine I had fell apart in a little over a month). My favourite movie ever is Predator, so I have a few different versions of the Neca series of those too. I also love to collect the Funko Pops as well and I am starting to amass a pretty big collection of them but will only buy these second hand at a bargain price, as you’re kind of limited with what you can do with them posing-wise.


Going back through my old shots

I would like to go back and re-do some of my earlier shots. It was my 100th post on Instagram the other day and someone suggested that I re-do my first shot, which I think I might do sometime soon. The original was done in bright daylight and the posing was…, well awful, so it’ll be nice to see if I have improved since then. I don’t like to look back on shots to re-do though, and I have a notebook next to my computer where I jot down any ideas that I have and other notes for the set up. If I have a free weekend, I might be able to crack off 5-6 shots from the list, but it always helps to have something to look on for ideas, rather than just pluck something out of my brain. If it’s there in notes, it helps you to stay focused.


Looking back on all my shots, a few stand out to me for different reasons. I did a shot with the Disney Cars as part of a SirDork Challenge where we could not use any figures. I loved doing this, as my daughter helped me with the shot, and she also had a go at doing some of her own. It was a great way to spend time together and the shot turned out half decent.


For a similar reason, I also love the shot that I did of the Stormtroopers preparing the dinner on the kitchen hob. It was something a little different with getting small figures interacting with real sized objects, which was fun.

I have a Predator and Mando shot that I am just finishing up processing that I must admit I love the way it is progressing. Having a 6-year-old, I only get short and quick goes on the computer to do what’s needed, so things seem to take twice as long, but I would not change her for the world. She loves helping and I’m hoping that soon I can get some of her shots to upload.

Last shot that I’ll mention is one of Deadpool riding the horse from Toy Story. I think that the idea is really funny and always brings a smile to my face. It was done in March 2022, so a while back now.

My Favourite Photographers

Some of my fave photogrpahers from Instagram are:

  • Boozymanchild

  • Sirdork

  • Sequential_plastic

  • Toyimmersion

  • Comicdad42_shotz

  • Worldoffigs

  • Woodys_toy_box

  • So.toyphotography

  • Monochrome_medley

  • Dagobah_dave_

  • hasbiz_toybro

…, to name a few, but with well over 1,000 followers, I would be here all-day naming all that I look up too. I also tag a kid that has the username of Evansfightagainstcancer into each of my shots, as I started chatting with him one day and he said how much he liked my shots. Said that I would so that he wouldn’t miss out on anything I posted and thought that maybe looking at some of my shots might just brighten his day a bit.


Tips

If I had any tips for photographers, I would say don’t be afraid of trying things. Some things will turn out awful, but somethings will turn out good. What doesn’t work, try and adapt and make better and learn from your mistakes. I know that sometimes things don’t go right, and you feel like jacking it all in, but if you persist, this is when the best things happen. I would also say that try and learn as much as you can from online. Everyone in the group is taking a step that way in sharing their images, but I encourage everyone to be honest about shots on here. If you think something doesn’t work, say to the photographer why you don’t think it works and suggest something to improve it. On the flip side though, if someone does say something that they don’t like about a shot of yours, don’t instantly dismiss it and not take any advice, but maybe talk to that person and work together at improving it. There’s nothing worse than a group that only likes images and says things like “Wow” and “Awesome”. That way we never learn.

Anyways, that’s about enough from me. If you are interested, I have a few different Instagram accounts set up with the different styles of photography that I do. It would be great if you could have a look and let me know what you think. The accounts are as follows:

If you have any questions about my photography, or any of my shots, please do not hesitate to message me. I’ll do my best to help where I can. Also, it would be great if you follow me on Instagram and please feel free to leave a comment


- Martin Wheeler

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