Written by | Featured, Special Feature

Part three of a special three-part community piece exploring the reasoning behind Toy Photography curated by Adam Burke (@burkeheadtoys) with guest features.

At last, dear friends, we’ve come to the finale and highlight of toy photography, the Community.  If you’re new to this hobby or thinking of starting, I’m going to give you a spoiler. People may start for the thrill of Collecting, or the joy in Creativity, but we stay for the awesomeness of this community.  

Personally, I’m more of a reserved person online, which is something I’m working on.  And it’s probably for the same reason as most of you, fear of rejection, or being ignored by the person on the other end.  When I saw Exclu Collective put out a call for people to help produce content, I could have ignored it and, a year ago, I’m sure I would have.  It took me a while to decide to send that message out, and here we are. I admit it took me too long to reach out with questions: How did you do that effect? Who makes that figure? Or the real questions we all want to ask and are too afraid to hear the answers: What do you think of my photo?  Where can I improve?

Having asked these questions, I’ve only received responses of honesty and support.  And having been asked these questions, I reply with the same. Now I’m sure there are some less than nice people lurking in our shadows as there are in all areas of life, but the overwhelming majority are friendly, positive people who support each other. If you’re thinking of posting your first toy photo and are worried about the bombardment of negativity you’re sure is coming, just do it. I think you’ll be surprised at how well it will be received.

Outside of the support factor, there’s also new friendships forged all the time around here.  My Instagram stories are filled with people posting about meeting up, sharing toy news with others, giving shout outs to others who hooked them up with a figure they were unable to get on their own, or just sharing someone else’s work that they think is amazing.  

And lastly, one of my favorite things about this community is the resources.  I’m always looking for knowledge in anything I do so I can improve, and I hope you are too.  There are resources everywhere. People post their own behind the scenes photos and videos, there are Facebook groups where you can give and get critiques, YouTube channels covering all aspects of this hobby, some go live to just chat with viewers and others give constructive criticism.  There’s always people looking to improve and people who are doing their best to drop some knowledge. Here at Exclu Collective, there’s a wealth of knowledge for toy photographers by toy photographers.


Jae got started doing toy photography because of her love for Anime, which is a very popular subject in this community.  


She started doing it just for fun, and, not surprisingly, it blossomed into something much more.  Jae has found that it’s a great way to make art to express herself through her characters. She is active in the community and is always seeking to improve her work.  She reaches out to friends she’s made here to get constructive criticism which allows her to grow. And this is reflected in her personal favorite photo:


Voncarlo Go-Aco

Like so many others, Voncarlo didn’t know anything about photography, much less toy photography when he started out.  He was drawn in by yet another highlight of this community – toy photography contests. Everywhere you look, there seems to be challenges and contests to get involved with. After the contest, he saw all the great entries and started to wonder about this community.  Then his girlfriend introduced him to Instagram and there he discovered this community for people like us and jumped in.


Since his first photo he has become very good at creating composition shots and his gallery reflects that.  It’s filled with some amazing and dramatic shots.


His current favorite photo is the spot on recreation of the box art for Assassin’s Creed.  Voncarlo is also an active member of this toy community and has also contributed a few articles here at Exclu Collective (including a full Altair Gallery), so be sure to check them out!

Patrick Colclough

Patrick was brave enough to talk to me and allow me to share his reason for starting toy photography: Depression. Something I know affects members of our community. Bullied and rejected all his life by friends/family and in the places we should feel safe (home, school, church), he started to believe what he was constantly told: That he is worthless. Though a small handful of people make him feel safe due to a life of abuse, it’s still hard to trust.

He found his refuge in movies, specifically Star Wars. Patrick fell in love with the characters, music, universe and technology. This led to an appreciation of the toys, which continues to this day. Through his best friend, he discovered toy photography last year.


Now his mind never gets a chance to sit in silence. The thoughts he tried so hard to suppress are now silenced by new ideas! He’s now preoccupied with thoughts of new figures, equipment, poses and diorama ideas. Furthermore, Patrick has now found that sense of community which we’re all looking for. A group of fellow people who don’t waste breath or finger strokes throwing insults and hate because he collect toys. No. These people are helpful, supportive and genuinely excited (or playfully jealous) when you post a photo of when you find your grail figure! With the encouragement that he has received, Patrick has found motivation to improve. With each shot he focuses on better posing, more detailed dioramas and more elaborate shots. And even if he only gets 30 likes on a photo he worked 6 hours on, those 30 people make him feel special and appreciated. They acknowledged that his work has value, after being told for so long that he has none.  


Patrick’s story is why we love toy photography, community.

If you’re finding yourself relating to Patrick, know this, you’re not alone. And if you haven’t already, check out what Dan Leonard (@tinyepicphotos) is doing with his project #WithToysInMind (@WithToysInMind). It’s a project Dan has been doing since June 2018 to promote positive mental health. You can read all about it here.

Well, I hope I’ve given you some insight on why there’s close to 6 million Instagram posts on #ToyPhotography. And I would like to thank all those who shared their input for these articles.  I haven’t regretted starting this hobby, and I hope you join us. Let’s all remember, it doesn’t cost anything to double tap those pics or leave a positive comment because you never know what it’s worth on the other end.  Thanks for reading.

Adam (@BurkeHeadToys)

Last modified: June 4, 2019

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