(This article originally ran on the toyphotographers.com blog, and is reprinted here, well, cause I wrote it, and I like it.)
I know what you are thinking: “What is DEIMOS, and why does it have rules?” Furthermore your thoughts likely lean towards “Why do I care?”, and “anything on Netflix?”
The answer are, in reverse order “No, your favourite shows were removed yesterday!”, and “I’ll get to that, hold your horses.”
First I need to tell you a story.
Is It A Short Story?
Yes it is (tho I have a tendency to wander in my thoughts, so stay close and hold on.)
So I have listened to the Toy Photographers Podcast since the very first episode. Frequently the host, James Garcia, interviews various folks about their toy photography activities. One of the questions I remember being asked more than once (at least I think it was more than once – I didn’t take notes) was something along the lines of: “Do you have any rules for your toy photography?”
Basically, do you stay true to the source material, or does anything go?
The first time I heard that question, my response was a rather smug and snarky “no rules!” However the more I thought about it, the more I realized there are, in fact, some rules I seem to follow in my work. So I decided I’d write them down and explore just what makes my universe tick.
Originally I was going to reveal these shocking and stunning insights during my podcast interview, but I’ve never been asked to appear on the show. Fiddlesticks!
(As an aside, I am not sure what it takes to get onto the show, but apparently a subtle nod from across the room at the Oregon Toy Safari in James’s general direction while he’s looking away and eating a Tim Tam is not enough. Next time I am going to try holding the Tim Tams before I give him that subtle nod, and maybe a playful wink and maybe add in a come-hither look.)
So, slighted at my changes of audio fame, I decided I’d answer this question here.
So, What The Heck is DEIMOS?
I am so glad you asked!
Along the lines of the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) and the DCEU (DC Extended Universe), DEIMOS is the name that defines the universe my work exists in. It is a name that I invented, while walking thru the mean streets of Zurich 20 minutes ago, so totally legit. DEIMOS stands for “Dave’s Enigmatic Intersecting Multiverse (Or Something)” It is basically the name for the universe in which reside all of my toy photos.
So now that I have a long term established universe for my work, we can discuss the rules that govern it.
When I say rules, I mean the same definition of rules like the Rule Of Thirds, or the Rules Of Composition – basically, they are guidelines, and can be violated at will if it serves the art.
Also, while I am on a tangent, the following are the rules of DEIMOS. In no way am I implying that these are rules your work should follow. That would be both incredibly arrogant, and rather boring. You are free to define the rules of your toy universes anyway that floats your boat. These are mine, and mine only (tho you can borrow them if you like.)
Can We Get To The Rules Now?
Sure, tho like I said, these are more guidelines than actual rules. Here we go.
Rule 1: Mixing universes is totally allowed
I haven’t done a lot of mixing of universes, but it is allowed in the DEIMOS. My Star Wars characters live in the same multiverse as the Marvel characters, so there isn’t really anything preventing them from mixing it up now and then. It just doesn’t happen often due to the distances of space and time separating the universes.
So once we solve that whole space-time thing, expect a lot more mixing of worlds in my multiverse.
|Mixing genres is allowed in DEIMOS, but some care is required to not violate space-time.|
Rule 2: Characters behavior follows their established canon
This basically means that I don’t change characteristics of a given character. Regardless of where they are placed, Luke Skywalker will always be a good guy. Depending on the age of Luke he may be a whiny brat, or a wise wizard, but always be a good guy. Furthermore Darth Vader will always be a bad ass with a short fuse. Tony Stark will always be a snarky genius, billionaire, playboy philanthropist. Ewoks will always be yub nub. (You get the idea.)
This is likely why I, like many others, like Stormtroopers. Due to their anonymous nature of their helmets, they can be anyone, and have any characteristics, so they can be used for pretty much any situation.
|Stormtrooper surfing on a sea of foam|
Rule 3: There is no rule 3
Rule 4: The characters actions must be plausible to their character
Basically this means that whatever the character is doing, it must be plausible and true to his character. If Captain America visits the Star Wars universe, he’d still be a good guy. If Darth Vader ever came to earth, he would still be a short tempered death wizard villain, and not, say, a pizza delivery guy.
|No matter where he goes, Vader will always love a good force choke.|
Again I am not saying that you can’t make Vader a pizza delivery guy in your universe, just saying it is highly unlikely to happen in mine. Even if it did happen in mine, he’d still be a short tempered death wizard, so you better tip him very, very well.
Rule 5: Mixing LEGO and action figures is perfectly cromulent
DEIMOS does not discriminate between toys. They can all mix together as they wish. I’m not here to judge.
|Deadpool watching TV Head|
Rule 6: Humans and Toys Totally Mix
When I talk about my universe, I am not kidding. I do other work besides toys, and it all works together. Humans and toys are totally allowed to mix, and not in that Toy Story “living in denial” method. Actual mixing.Dave being held up by Chewbacca.
So those seem to encompass the rules of my universe, DEIMOS. There are likely some other rules I go by, like “all elements in the frame must serve the story”, and “No Smurfs. Ever.” but those govern all my work, not just the toys, so they are not really worth mentioning here.
Do you have rules you follow in your toy photography? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.