Friday, January 20, 2012

Action Pics of Action Figures: 9 Questions with Ed Speir!

If you're along with us here, on Flickr or on Facebook, you've already seen the work of Ed Speir, IV - our favorite action figure photographer. He'd tell you he's a hobbyist, but the results are all pro as far as we're concerned, and we can't get enough of his work. The feedback from his images on our site has been great, and a lot of you have been clamoring for more info. Ed very graciously agreed to introduce himself by answering a few questions!

How did you get your start with Photography?

I am a big fan of McFarlane Toys and joined their forum in 2001 or so. I saw posts from other forum members with photos of their new figures and it interested me greatly. I have always collected toys, but never thought of photographing them until joining the Spawn forum. I had a cheap Kodak 3.2 megapixel camera and just started taking random shots of the figures in my collection. At that point I had no lighting, tripod, backdrops, props...I would just take shots from my desk. A few years later I purchased a light tent with two positionable flourescent lights and a Kodak V1003 10 megapixel camera. I still use the light tent and lights, but I recently purchased a Canon T2i DSLR and am just starting to learn how to use it effectively.

How long have you been staging scenes with toys?

I have been taking toy photos for seven-eight years probably..and actually using props and backdrops for six or seven years.

What was the first figure you ever set up and photographed?

I can't remember the exact figure, but I'm sure it was one of the many versions of Spawn by McFarlane Toys.

Do you have specific sources for inspiration?

I don't have specific sources of inspiration per say...although I will say I like my shots a bit on the dark/moody side of things - similar to lighting in horror/sci-fi movies. You will rarely see a brightly lit shot from me. Some have even complained that my shots are too dark, but it adds more atmosphere in my opinion, and that's what I'm going for.

What made you decide to set up these intricate scenes for your figures and post them to Flickr?

The more shots I began taking, the more intricate they became. Instead of just shooting a static figure on my desk, I slowly began incorporating props and backdrops in my shots trying to create "movie scenes". I now have about 20 or so different props that I use in my photos, and I'm always on the lookout for more.

What's your favorite toyline and of that your favorite figure?

That's a tough one...but I've probably got to go with Bandai's S.I.C. (Super Imaginative Chogokin) figure line. These are hyper-detailed figures from the many Masked Rider/Kamen Rider television series that air in Japan. These generally have to be imported directly from Japan, although you can sometimes find them from online stores in the US. My absolute favorite figure has to go to Max Factory's Karas - basically a badass futuristic ninja from the anime of the same name. It happens to be super-rare as well, sometimes fetching $ 400- $ 500 on eBay. Not bad for a seven inch figure....

What was the single most important thing you've learned from this whole experience?

I have a somewhat stressful job...and over the years toy photography has become quite the stress reliever for me. It has a calming effect and lets me forget about work for a few hours and concentrate on the task at hand. That is definitely the most important thing I get out of this hobby.

What advice do you have for someone who would like to make dioramas for their figures?

Go to PetSmart, lol. Seriously, a large portion of my props are aquarium decorations purchased from some moss from craft stores and simple rocks from outside. I use various combinations of these items to get the desired diorama/background I need for the shot. I also use various buildings and other props picked up over the years as well. I will say that none of my "dioramas" are permanent - they are set up for specific photos and then dissassembled and rearranged as needed.

Have you ever considered trying for a photography job at Hasbro or some other toy company?

No, I have never considered photographing toys for a toy company. Quite honestly, I feel my work is too stylized to be used for "product shots" needed by these big companies and I don't think it would be a good fit. However, I definitely wouldn't turn them down if the opportunity presented itself!

Ed's work can be found on his Flickr photo stream, and is also featured on a growing number of product shots for!

1 comment:

Lando said...

A great interview to go with some great photography.