Skip to main content

Photographing Toy Cars Realistically

I enjoy photography and have been doing so professionally and independently for over 30 years.

PUblic Domain

PUblic Domain

There is something about collecting that makes people spend endless amounts of money and just as much time in getting their hands on just one more sample to add to their collections.

It is a hobby without much of a reward in the majority of cases but like many other hobbies, it is an activity that can bring hours of joy and pride to whomever the collector is.

Even better when others stop by and admire the collection. I collect two things; old hammered coinage, preferably in gold and antique toys. Over the years I have amassed what to me looks like a sizable collection of toys but it lacks in comparison to the collections of others.

I started collecting toys about 18 years ago and more or less have kept on doing so on a regular basis.

I often photograph them just for the fun of it but there are others who might want to do so to show it of.

Photographing toy cars is not hard but you really need to put that extra effort to make the images "feel" as good as when looking at the real toys.

CC0 Public Domain

CC0 Public Domain

Star by selecting the subject of your shoot and after deciding on which ones will make the cut, star preparing a set that goes with the particular item.

A good starting point is either to get a drawing that features an appropriate backdrop like a road or mountain scenery. Match the backdrop to an appropriate surface so lets say another daring featuring a road or pavement.

Pose your item against these two drawings and set a low angle as if you were looking at the toy at eye level.

This is what makes the images interesting in the first place since most of these photos are usually taken from above the subject and one can immediately tell that they are looking at a toy.

The idea is to make the images seem realistic and pretend that one is looking at a real car driving or even parked alongside a road or in front of a majestic looking lake or mountain.

Once you have your design set in your mind it is not that difficult to find proper backdrops. If you photograph your toy cars against real scenes like street scenes and you use a low angle and crop the image being careful not to show nearby objects, then you can basically fool the eye into thinking that they are looking at a real car.

Scroll to Continue

The video from photographer Kim Leuenberger shows how she poses her cars as if they were in real life situations and this is what makes her images so appealing to look at. Just in case here is her instagram account: @kim.ou. Worth a look!

Whether you pose the subject against a real live scene or make your own the idea is to use a wide aperture to let the background fall into an out of focus highlight.

If you use a small aperture then everything behind the subject becomes clear and this does not help the effect.

Used by permission

Used by permission

CC0 Public Domain

CC0 Public Domain

BY far the best idea as to how to create a realistic backdrop is to use a portable table and make a realistic looking surface on it like pavement, sand or even some dirt complete with some creative looking miniature shrubbery then setting it against a real scene. By using a low angle and a wide aperture the effect of realism is obtained.

The key is to spend the time in making the table surface as realistic as possible because it will be visible in the final image. Plus and if that is not enough, think of all the fun and pride that comes from making a nice looking designed surface where to feature your toy cars.

Also important is to use nice looking subjects. The metal ones are usually realistic enough.Try to use them instead of any plastic ones.

Use one light source with a diffusing element. The light should be at a 45 degree angle and not too close to the toy to avoid reflections.

Look at the work of Michael Paul Smith for an idea of what can be accomplished with realistic looking sets and some creativity.

CC0 Public Domain

CC0 Public Domain

© 2015 Luis E Gonzalez


Luis E Gonzalez (author) from Miami, Florida on November 02, 2015:

teaches12345: Thank you . Hope you have fun doing it

Dianna Mendez on November 02, 2015:

I have so many toy cars from my son and grandson around here. Maybe I should take a few photos of them like this. I enjoyed the video. How creative!

Related Articles