What is/was your personal project and what inspired you to start it?
My personal photography project revolves all around my girls’ toys. I spend my days documenting their lives and I wanted to include all of what THEY love, not just what I love about them. Things like their smiles, her new braces, the first day of school; all of those are important to document, but there is so much more that the girls love, too. Just simple little kid things that are often overlooked and outgrown too quickly. Choosing to photograph their toys was an obvious choice for me. I mean, hey, I see them everyday as well and I pick them up out of the floor A LOT. However, soon they will be too old for them or move on to something else in their little lives. I’ll miss these days. They will miss these days. That’s what led me to decide to shoot their toys. I see this as a little gift to my girls, too. I want them to look back on their childhood toys with sweet and silly memories.
Are there any challenges or ruts you faced during your project and how did you overcome them and keep a creative eye?
Also, sometimes I’d get frustrated that I wasn’t able to see what I wanted the character to do. How I wanted the toy to act in the shot. In those instances, I’d ask my girls what they wanted the toy to do. I’d ask a child to set up the scene for me and then I’d just wait for the light. That was the case with the mommy elephant and her babies.
What have you learned through your process with your personal project?
Light! I’ve learned how to see light so differently. Using the toys gave me a lot of time to play and really see what was around me. I didn’t have any kids urging me to hurry up. The toys never asked me to give them candy or money. I was able to slow down and really study the light in each shot. I could see the reflections, the shadows, and the lines in my own time without feeling pressured. I also learned that my vision and style transfers over to still life photography and it’s not just a random sort of look that I like to see in my images. It’s a vision that moves all over; from my girls to my personal at-home style and even to the way I see toys. It’s just….me coming out. Shooting the toys most certainly helped me see that about myself.
Is there anything additional about your project that readers may find interesting?
I often let the girls choose the toy each day and sometimes, as I mentioned before, they helped me come up with the ideas for the shots. They really enjoyed getting involved with the project and even the editing as well. Because of that, I see just how meaningful this project is to them AND me. I can surely see how much they will love this shots when they are looking back in a few years. It’s a blast for all of us. Even the toys don’t complain.
Melissa Gibson, Georgia
Copywriter | CMU Instructor | CM Mentor
website | facebook | pinterest | instagram | mentoring | ask a pro | daily project
Melissa is a proud MWAC who gears up with a Nikon D700, prime lenses, and edits her “fun, childlike, and whimsical” photography solely in Photoshop Elements. Melissa is one of the instructors for CMU’s Mastering Manual Exposure and the new Processing 103: Photoshop Elements and her goal both now and when she first began her photography journey in 2005 is to, in her own words, “remember my girls’ lives for them. They are so young yet growing so quickly. I know they won’t remember it all so I feel it’s my job to document it for them.” She is a self proclaimed goofball that loves reading, giggling, sweet tea, her iPhone, kisses, instagram, and having fun with her small family which includes her husband and three darling girls.