Member Spotlight – Trevor Williams (One Six Shooter)
JM – John Martino
TW – Trevor Williams
JM. Which came first for you a love for photography, graphic arts or figure collecting?
TW. Well, I guess collecting Star Wars figures in the 70s (and GI Joe, and Mego Superheroes, Star Trek and Planet of the Apes, etc.) came first, but I was always drawing as a child/teenager. I desperately wanted to be a comic book artist when I was young, but as I got older and started to draw some sample panels I felt I would never be fast enough to make any real money at it, so I found my way to Graphic design. Photography, back in the day of film and film processing (and pre-Photoshop!), never held much interest to me; drawing and painting were faster and more immediately gratifying. So, strangely, photography came last.
JM. When or how did you decide to merge them together?
TW. It actually wasn’t that long ago. I started collecting 1/6th scale again about 2-3 years ago after having bought the Monty Python’s Holy Grail figures many years before. I was just going to get the Han and Chewbacca set for my desk and stop there (ha!). Even though I could afford them then, I still thought they were crazy expensive. Little did I know I’d have 70+ soon!
After posing them multiple times on my desk and really trying to get natural poses I felt i had to chronicle them and do something more creative. I started taking shots with simple seamless backgrounds and posting on the 1/6th forums, but got bored with that quickly. I started doing more elaborate shoots, buying more equipment and posting to Instagram where I discovered a whole community of people doing toy photography that I had no idea existed.
JM. There are so many components involved in bringing your photos to life, its not just posing the figures and taking a photo, can you explain the process?(How long does it take to have an end result you are happy with, from start to publishing the photo? (As a fan of your work, lately your scenes have become more elaborate. How do you create the sets. Is it physical props, photoshop, or a bit of both.)
TW. Well, that’s what it was at first – posing in front of a backdrop. But while that works well sometimes – especially for close-ups – when you start injecting other objects, surfaces, props, etc into it, it literally takes on a whole new dimension. I have been adding a lot more environmental elements lately including a lot of heavy rocks, tree branches, debris, etc. I envy the guys who concentrate on 1/12th scale figures – the environments are nice and compact and, presumably, lighter.
I take a lot of time and a lot of shots to get the right setup and pose. A simple portrait shot could be anywhere from 40 – 80 shots. An elaborate shot like the Kylo Ren shot “The Abduction” was around 200. I use a fog machine to create atmosphere and it takes many tries to get good movement and placement of the fog.
After that the post-production can be really involved or fairly simple depending on the shot. Typically an hour or two, but there are many times I’ll get to this point and rethink the shot entirely and start again.
JM. Where do you find your inspiration for creating a scene or photo?
TW. Some of the settings/situations come straight from the source material, but the figures themselves can inspire ideas or sometimes it’s a new prop that I picked up. I keep a running list of ideas. The challenge is framing and laying out the shot. I don’t typically do a straight up remake of a scene, I want to come at it from a different angle or point of view.
JM What are your top 5 photos you have taken thus far and why.
TW. “Why do you love this child the most?” Haha! It’s usually the last few I’ve taken, but I really love the Tantive IV photo (“Defiance”) because it worked out well and was exactly what I had in my head (which doesn’t happen every time). I like “Walker in the Mist” a lot, a recent Bespin/Boba Fett Lego shot, “We have a visitor” featuring the probe droid and I guess I’d say the vintage western take on the Star Wars crew “The Family that Blasts Together, Lasts Together”.
JM. How does figure articulation affect the desired result? Have you had to modify a figure to get it to pose the way you want? What do you do when you just can’t get the pose you want?
TW. It’s huge. I have some customs that due to the nature of the build are difficult to pose. Recently, the Carl Grimes figure – which is pretty nice otherwise – gave me a lot of trouble. The ankle joints would not hold well and the body was a little “floppy” I do take the time to try and fix those figures if I can and have the time, otherwise I may improvise or modify the scene to fit the limitations. Or give up on it entirely (although not easily)!
JM. What is the greatest form of appreciation you have received for your work? (Celebrity acknowledgment, Sideshow Acknowledgment etc.)?
TW. The one that stands out is Mark Hamill retweeting my Kenny Baker tribute. I rushed that shot a bit but it kind of took off on Social media. Just the nice comments from everyone in the 1/6th and Lego groups, and the toy photo community – on IG especially – is what keeps it fun though.
JM. You create these amazing diorama shots and poses, one of my favorites was the recreation of a photo of (Han, Luke, Chewy and Leia) Leia is in chewy arms. Do you display the figures in your collection this way? Or do you just display them in basic poses?
TW. The saddest thing is – to me anyway – is that my collection for the most part is not well organized! I have six Detolf cabinets that hold about 75% of my collection – no lights, no nice backdrops. They’re posed for the most part – some of them nicely. But others are just kind of plopped on the shelf after a shoot to be re-posed some other time. They’re mostly in my studio (basement) which is not a nice finished room nor anywhere I’d want to take people to show off my collection. I have to rectify that soon! I envy people with a finished room just for their collectibles.
JM. All of us collectors love to take photos of our collection and pose our figures in recreations of scenes from the movies. What tips would you give an amateur like myself to create the best images I can. What should I avoid?
TW. Because of the size of our figures, you can do a lot with desk lamps or cheap cone-shaped utility lights from a hardware store for lighting and get decent results. Use high-wattage, warm white LED bulbs. Tracing paper – the kind on a big roll – hung in front of the lights is excellent for diffusing, which is essential for cutting down the harshness of bare bulbs to get nice soft light. If you’re into it enough to invest in a DSLR, get something entry-level to start with, get used to using it with a kit lens and save up for a nicer lens. A 50mm lens a good all around lens for figures. I use my 40mm macro a lot too. Shoot RAW if you can and learn some basic Photoshop editing. Avoid using flash!
A lot of people like to shoot outside. It’s instant environment/scenery and if you go out in the early morning or evening you’ll have some nice light. But you’ll have to get over bringing your expensive figures out in the open air! If you want to shoot inside, try using background scenes on a monitor or flat screen TV as an easy backdrop.
To see Trevor’s amazing photos click the social media icons below:
A few samples of Trevor’s amazing photos!