With the start of a new year comes the start of a brand new Community Deep Dive series here at Exclu Magazine as we take the time to chat to members of the Toy Photography Community and the Toy Industry. We kick things off by taking a closer look at the works of Jared Middleton ( @sirdork730) and hearing more about this collection and Toy Photography experiences :
Part 1: Collecting
What does your collection comprise mainly of (Character / Brand / Manufacturer etc.)?
My collection comprises of many different fandoms. I’m a fanboy of many different IP’s and I can’t help but collect them all. I have sections designated to each one in my apartment, mainly including: Star Wars, DC comics, Pokemon, Dragonball. I also mainly try to only collect figures that I plan on shooting in toy photography.
When did you really start to get into collecting? Were you surrounded by figures from a young age or has something more recent triggered it?
I got into collecting in around 2014 when a small toy collector shop opened up near me and I was exposed to all of the cool figures and collectibles that I don’t know existed! I always was drawn to action figures as a kid and this shop pulled me back in as an adult.
What are your Top 3 favourite items in your collection?
Choosing a top 3 in my collection is very difficult. My first Black Series storm trooper is my #1. I’ve had him for years and used him in more toy photography than any other figure. Him and I have been through a lot together. My Hot Toys Patrol Trooper would be my #2. He is my only Hot Toys I own and is the most expensive figure I’ve ever purchased! My Walgreens Exclusive Black Series Prototype Boba Fett is my #3. I had an unfortunate accident with him with fireworks and burnt him badly. But I then turned his burns into cool battle damage and created a fun weathered character out of it!
What is that one Grail pieces that continues to elude you?
My grail piece at the moment is the Black Series Clone Trooper 4 pack. I have yet to get my hands on one of these. Unfortunately they’ve grown so expensive that I’d have to pay hundreds to get him online!
Which 3 items do you hope to add to your collection over the next year?
Over the next year, I plan to increase my Anime figure collection and get ahold of the Figma Genos from One Punch Man, Deku and Bakugo from my hero Academia; all made by Good Smile.
Part 2: Toy Photography
How long have you actively been sharing your Toy Photography online?
I’ve been Sharing my toy photography online and on Instagram since 2014.
Our community is always growing – what advice would you give to those who always worry about having to be original in every shot?
My advice for someone new and looking to be original with every shot is to merely take your time and learn from yourself. Every time you take a photo, try something new and don’t be afraid to push yourself and attempt something you never thought you could achieve. Every time you try, fail or succeed, you learn a massive amount that you can use in further photo shoots and constantly improve! Continuously improve for YOU, not for the likes or followers. As long as you are doing your best and improving yourself, the likes and followers will come on time.
Do you like to use digital editing techniques or do you prefer to keep to practical methods?
I am a big fan of practical effects. I’m constantly trying to find the best way to make the coolest, flashiest and literally the most explosive effect possible while being practical. I love experimenting with all of the earth’s elements to do so. In doing so, I also utilize my basic skill in photoshop to layer as much of an element, or multiple elements, successfully in a photo as possible! It’s a joy to me experimenting with practicality and sometimes get a bit dirty or damaged in the process.
What is your go to figure / line that you find yourself shooting above anything else in your collection?
I’m constantly shooting with the Star Wars Black Series line from Hasbro. I love Star Wars and these figures are affordable, available and look great! You can’t really go wrong with that!
What is your favourite thing about being an active member of the Social Media Toy Community?
The community is huge and full of great people always looking to help improve themselves as well as others. We’re all constantly learning from each other and helping each other. I love doing everything I can to help the community grow and contribute to the best of my ability with Behind the Scenes videos, YouTube tutorials and shoutouts!
Part 02b. Toy Photography – Exclusive Image
This shot is one of my most recent shots from 2019. I think of it as a representation of what I’ve learned and accomplished in 2019. It has a combination of many aspects to what I think makes a fun toy photo: Awesome Characters, posing, good lighting and a cool practical effect. The Darth Maul is an Shfiguarts figure by Tamashii Nations and the clone trooper is a Black Series figure by Hasbro. I used a Lume Cube to give red light on Darth Maul. I used a wire to keep Darth Maul floating and the clone’s head floating, took several shots with sparklers and crackling ball fireworks and layered them all together in photoshop to create the final project! Then lastly, I created the Lightsaber effect by hand in photoshop.
A huge thank you to Jared for taking the time to chat with us and for sharing an Original Image to kick off the series with a bang. Be sure to keep upto date on all of his work via his Instagram page @sirdork730 and keep it locked to Exclu for more Community Deep Dive’s alongside the latest news and previews.
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Last modified: January 3, 2020