We see the photos on Facebook and Twitter, and all over the Internet. We all like to show off our collection and point out the detailing and effort we put into our creations. The Internet makes doing so very easy, but to really show them off the photo must be good.
What makes a good photo?
Sure, you can take pictures of them on a shelf. I do it often purely for convenience, especially when I'm trying to show off more than one figure. It's quick and easy.
You can take photos outside, like Danger did here:
Personally, I think this is the best way. Action figures are representations of people who would be outside. The lighting is natural, and with well-done figures the colors look as they should. It helps even more when you have trees or plants that look scale, and when you can manipulate other things in the photo to add an element of scale realism.
People like Pablo Martinez Estrada and Carlos Quintana make diorama-like bases for their figures. They can be quite effective again in adding a sense of realism. The base can be as simple as you want it to be, or it can be very complex and detailed. It's up to the builder.
Here is one of Pablo's figures on a base:
Here's one of Carlos' figures, also on a base:
Vito Carlucci often takes a different approach. Vito tells me he has nearly 150 figures. Often, he posts photos of them on his Facebook page. Vito likes to put his figures in front of a photo that gives the look of a real person in his or her element.
Some examples of Vito's works are here:
A Spetznaz in the mountains:
A few suggestions that I can offer are as follows. First of all, and most important, is proper lighting. You can't show off detail unless it's lit and highlighted properly. Flashes up close can wash out detail, and a picture that is too dark hides the details. All the intricacies in the World are lost if we can't see them.
Secondly, for realism try to pose you figures naturally. Relaxed poses are often the best unless you want an action shot or are capturing a moment, because, and let's face it, people in the field are often standing around doing nothing. Smart ones take advantage of any chance to relax. Also, if your doing a shooting pose try to make a realistic point of aim. They're not shooting to kick up dust 50 feet away, and they're generally not hunting ducks. You don't have to have him in a marksmanship challenge, but try to keep it as real as possible.
While overhead shots are often necessary, especially in the case of diorama or vehicles, I think the best photos are at or just above the figure's eye level. Don't be afraid to kneel or to lay down to get a good shot. We all live life at eye level, so things shown that way tend to look more familiar and more realistic.
Finally, don't be afraid to take lots of shots! In the era of digital cameras and camera-phones, more can be better. The more pictures you take, the better your chances of capturing the moment in a great photo.
So there you have it. There's my take on action figure photography. If you are going to take photos of your figures, try out some of these techniques. And, if you don't take photos of your figures, why not? What are you waiting for? If they're your's, and your proud of them, show them off! Have fun, and try new things. You'll not be disappointed, and I guarantee that you'll enjoy it!