Mars Mann

Mars Mann

Toy Photographer

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The United Kingdom, home of Big Ben, William Shakespeare, and the Beatles. It is also home of this weeks featured toy photographer, Mars Mann. Mars offers us the opportunity to learn a bit about his process and shares some insight into his photography.

Tell us a little bit about yourself, and where you’re from.

I’m Mars Mann, and I’m from the United Kingdom and I’m a self-taught photographer.

When you’re not photographing toys, what do you do for a living?

I work in customer relations with an expanding and ever growing retail company which is one of the largest in the country.

When did you get started with toy photography?

I originally started in 2015 when I took a photo of a ‘Matchbox’ patrol car in a nocturnal scene. I wasn’t expecting much from it, but lo and behold I liked what I saw and was impressed with the capture. Then the pursuit for the art began.

Is there a specific type of toy you like to shoot the most? Brand, type or size?

As things stands I do enjoy shooting with Lego as the expressions on their faces and their blocky bodies tend to conjure up quite comical ideas. Taking something serious and turning it into something humorous breaks down barriers. That being said, I have been leaning towards putting together some toy car scenes in action mode while still sticking with Lego.

“This will be your first toy photo of many more to come. So consider purchasing a better camera, and get used to using a Macro lens.”

Before you started taking your own shots, did you have any interest in the world of toy photography?

No. I had no interest whatsoever. My main interest involved Night, Street and Abstract photography as well as digital art photography.

Did taking toy photos lead you to collecting toys, or did you already collect them?

I had no toys before, and now I find myself stepping on Lego pieces and much more.

In the beginning, do you feel there was a learning curve?

In the beginning I didn’t think there was. Toy photography was a new and experimental area for me. With each shoot I learned how to do something different from the last.

What is the hardest part about toy photography?

Originally, it was getting the lighting right. However, with Lego, getting them to stand still in running poses without using the Lego plates is quite hard especially when using several characters in close proximity to one another for one shot.

If you could go back and impart a bit of wisdom to yourself when you were just starting out, what would you tell yourself?

“This will be your first toy photo of many more to come. So consider purchasing a better camera, and get used to using a Macro lens.”

What can you explain and share about your process?

When I started out with Lego Photography, it was just to get a nice shot of them with no particular thought about scenery or setting, but through meeting people and seeing different every day events taking place in life, that helped me to make the decision to giving the characters speech bubbles with comical satire which I later decided to label as ‘Memes’. From there I went on to creating scenery and background to put characters in a storytelling mode without the need of speech bubbles. However, I still like to use them from time to time.

Want to be featured?

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When you’re looking for ideas of types of images to take, what do you do?

I never go looking for an idea. The ideas tend to come to me if I see something that inspires it. These can come from movies, a conversation among people or from a personal experience. In times like this it’s always good to jot things down.

Can you tell us about your equipment?

I use an Olympus E-M1 (Lens -12-50mm).

How do you display your photos?

Some of my photos have been uploaded to Flickr and Facebook.

What is your favorite image or series of images you’ve taken?

My favourite one is of Mr. T marching into battle in a ‘smoked filled’ setting on a large K-2SO robot from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

What type of photos do you feel are the hardest to take and why?

Mid-air shots. Trying to get figurines to look as if they defy the laws of gravity is a challenge, but rewarding.

What was the most challenging photo you’ve taken or attempted to take?

Photos that had to be processed through imagining software.

How much do you rely on staging and how much on post-production processing?

It can depend on what kind of scene I’m going for or if there are flaws in the original photo, but if I’m creating a scene related to sci-fi, fantasy or I’m looking for a particular tone to the photo then in some cases I will use post processing to create that type of effect.

Other than your camera, do you have a favorite piece of equipment?

Lighting equipment. As without lighting, there is no substance to the picture.

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Toy To Life Series Branding-11 300-1Do you love toy photography?

Want to take your photography to the next level? is excited to announce the upcoming launch of the multipart online video course teaching the ins and outs of taking better photographs of the miniature world. The multi-session series will get you up and running and perfect your skills.

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