The wonderful city of Singapore houses our Under the Macro artist, Sunny (aka zekezachzoom) Sunny photographs a wide gamut of toy lines. With careful staging and focus on lighting Sunny is able to provide a sense of life in his photographs. Coupled with amazing filters, Sunny’s photos provide a sense of whimsy and humor. We’re sure that you’ll enjoy Sunny’s work, we know we have!
Tell us a little bit about yourself, and where you’re from.
I live on the sunny island of Singapore, which is great for toy photography!
When you’re not photographing toys, what do you do for a living?
I graduated with a diploma in Electrical Engineer but ended up being a graphic designer. Been at it for the last 20 years. Most of the knowledge I have about digital media and design, I picked up myself.
When did you get started with toy photography?
That was just 2 years ago when I was just messing around with telling jokes with toy photography. A quick snap, upload and wait to see if anyone else liked the joke. These days, I spend quite a bit of time taking multiple shots from different angles, lighting, composition and even more time touching them up.
Is there a specific type of toy you like to shoot the most? Brand, type or size?
I don’t really have a specific toy, brand or size. I choose figures based on the stories I want to tell. Though any highly articulated figure is always a plus. This doesn’t mean statues are not considered because some of them have such beautiful sculpts. Recently, I have been getting great shots with the Disney Infinity figures.
Before you started taking your own shots, did you have any interest in the world of toy photography?
I started shooting toys out of boredom and had no real interest in it. I only noticed the world of toy photography when I posted on Instagram.
“I am always looking out to try new things, so am constantly learning. You’re only as good as your last shot.”
Did taking toy photos lead you to collecting toys, or did you already collect them?
Toy photography lead me to collect. I have ideas sketched out on a couple of note books. If I see some toys or accessories that’s going to be needed for that shot, I would purchase them. Though some figures are so well done, I end up buying them because of their sculpt and articulation, but I will eventually use them for some photos to justify the purchase!
In the beginning, do you feel there was a learning curve?
I had some basic knowledge of photography and had always enjoyed composing shots. I am always looking out to try new things, so am constantly learning. You’re only as good as your last shot.
What is the hardest part about toy photography?
Setup and posing is the hardest part for me. It can sometimes be a pain, especially if the pose and scene are complicated. If one figure drops, it somehow always tends to drag the rest of the figures or accessories with them. I always try to make sure the setup is stable so that you can concentrate on the shoot. Also, chasing light during the outdoor shoot can be tough. The condition can change rapidly, so you have to move fast to catch the lighting you want.
If you could go back and impart a bit of wisdom to yourself when you were just starting out, what would you tell yourself?
Take care of composition and lighting…and watch the overuse of Instagram filters.
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What can you explain and share about your process?
Everything starts with an idea. I may be window shopping or watching some online stuff or hear something and somehow, I like to link unrelated things together. I would then jot these ideas down on my notepad. If I don’t have one on hand, I would note it down on my phone. I won’t shoot immediately and if there is a single idea that I would like to shoot, I will imagine how the setup would be, taking care of light, composition and pose.
When you’re looking for ideas of types of images to take, what do you do?
I don’t actively go out seeking for ideas. I usually let them come to me from things I observe. When the ideas do come, I will quickly jot it down in my sketchbook.
Can you tell us about your equipment?
I shoot with a Canon 7D Mark II with kit lens (18mm to 135mm).
How do you display your photos?
At the moment, most of my pictures are uploaded on Facebook , Instagram and Google Plus. I print some of them and file them in an A3 folder which doubles up as a portfolio for visitors to browse when I go to conventions.
What is your favorite image or series of images you’ve taken?
My favorite image at this moment would be that of a couple of Lego Snowtroopers sharing a drumstick with a Wampa. I was very happy with how the lights, pose and general feeling came out.
What type of photos do you feel are the hardest to take and why?
Scenes with figures flying or items floating in mid air. But the results are always worth it!
What was the most challenging photo you’ve taken or attempted to take?
One of my pet project now is trying to improve on compositing work….putting toys in our real world convincingly.
How much do you rely on staging and how much on post-production processing?
I know there is this constant debate between shooting in camera and over-reliant of post production work. My opinion is whatever works for you and makes you happy.
Other than your camera, do you have a favorite piece of equipment?
My favorite equipment is the SUN. I love the outdoor lights. However, coming in a close second would be my indoor lights. At the moment, I only have 2 litra LED lights that serve as main source and any piece of lighting equipment I can get my hands on.
Do you love toy photography?
Want to take your photography to the next level?
Bricksdaily.com 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.