Wednesday, May 17, 2006

toybot studios Spotlight: Celebrity Toy Photographer Brian McCarty!!!

This week I am pleased to present to the toybot readers the celebrated photoworks of Brian McCarty!!! His unique photographic talents have been featured on the covers of magazines, mentioned on G4 TV and showcased on Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto Kubricks! Brian was kind enough to answer a few questions and provide a select group of examples of his outstanding work! From his website:

About McCarty PhotoWorks

The photographs and photo-illustrations of McCarty PhotoWorks are like no others.

Embracing the quirky and the artistic, the whimsical and the profound, the satirical and the serious, the studio is the commercial outlet for the imaginative work of Brian McCarty.

Brian’s passion for mainstream and art toys is matched by the studio’s passion for producing images that blur the lines between art and commerce.

His trend-setting work seems to give life to his subjects and makes a personal, playful connection with viewers. Whatever the subject, the studio’s photographs are celebrated for the way in which they resonate with viewers.

The creative insight and unique techniques that are the trademarks of the studio result in images that are popular for a variety of applications. McCarty Photoworks’ clients come from both mainstream and edgy firms in toy manufacturing, design, music, entertainment, publishing, and advertising.

How did you get into toy photography?
Toy photography is just something I've always done, so my honest answer is
that I don't know. From the first time I picked up a camera, shooting toys
felt right. From my early, fumbling experiments with photography, through
high school and art school, and into my career since, it's been how I've
seen the world. Fifteen years in, and there is still a lot to explore with
toys and my camera.

What makes for a great shot?
I personally strive to blend composition with narrative - an image that
looks cool and tells a story. To be a great shot in my mind, it has to feel
like a real moment, with the camera in the role as observer to an actual

What kinds of lighting advice can you give to our amateur toy photographers?
The biggest thing I can say in general is don't be afraid to experiment.
Lighting is one of those things you can either go buy a book that gives you
the same, tried and true techniques that everyone uses, or you can dive in
head first and find your own style.

Are there certain kinds of toys that make for better shots. ie: diecast vs plastic?
Definitely not. Each has their own specific benefits and challenges, but
you can get a great shot out of any toy. I spent years at Mattel shooting
little else than Hot Wheels, and I still love many of the images I produced
there. Just like shooting an action figure, it was all about finding the
underlying character, whether that comes from the design or the power the
toy has to a child or collector.

Do you yourself collect Japanese toys? If so, what do you like to collect?
In recent years I've tried to limit my collecting to toys and figures that
were used in shoots. It's made for a fun, random mix of toys and props from
semi-melted cars from a Grand Theft Auto shoot to a number of brilliant
art-toys. Before limiting things, I collected a wide range of stuff, but I
tended to gravitate towards 1:6 scale more than anything else. I'm still a
sucker for anything by Brothersfree and fun, pop-culture inspired 12"

Your photography as a surreal effect to do you accomplish this?
Not sure I have a good answer to that. It's just how I see the world. As
far as technique is concerned, I work about 90% in-camera with the image
composed on location and taken from one frame. From there I'll work in
Photoshop to polish details and tighten the color and tonal range. The
entire process is really organic to me now.

Why do you think toy collecting is so popular today?
Bottom line - there is a ton of cool stuff out there to collect! Designers,
artists, and toy companies are seeing toys as a lot more than playthings.
These pieces of plastic and plush have been freed from kid-safe-shackles and
allowed to grow into an artistic medium.

Whose work inspires your own?
I take inspiration from a number of brilliant documentary photographers,
including many from the almost 60 year history of the agency Magnum. I was
fortunate enough to be taught by a couple retired shooters from the NYC
based agency, and I appropriated a lot of documentary concepts into my work,
and they were very supportive. Work by people such as Robert Frank, Duane
Michaels, and Eugene Richards still amaze and inspire me.

Thanks Brian! We appreciate the time you took out of your busy schedule for the toybot studios readers!!

Check out more of Brian's work including some very cool additional Grand Theft Auto III Kubricks at McCarty PhotoWorks


Anonymous said...

Stumbled across your site using Google's Blogsearch. I've been getting into Flickr lately, but your post will definitely accelerate that.

These pictures are great. I'll definitely be sharing your link with others. Thanks!


toybot studios said...

Chillin Chilligan,

Thanks for the note. Glad you found this site. Flickr is definitely cool. It's a great community where you can definitely find folks who share your interests. It also serves as a great photo hosting site which I utilize for toybot studios on every post.

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