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Winners of the December 'Toys' contest

Posted by Teresa Hanafin  January 12, 2010 06:00 AM

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Brian McCarty
, a professional toy photographer, has made his choices for the Top 10 photos in our December "Toys" contest. He had an interesting thought process as he set about picking the winners:

"For the purposes of judging, I placed most entries into three broad categories:

  • Narrative-based (the photograph is primarily focused on depicting the toy as a character)
  • Still-life-based (the photograph is exploring the toy primarily as an object in a composition)
  • Documentary-based (the photograph is primarily exploring the captured moment of real and imagined worlds blending)
"The most successful toy photographs, in my opinion, often build their foundation on one of these approaches, and then use elements from the other two to craft a unique perspective. The least successful photographs often focus too heavily on just one approach, or fail to communicate from a distinct perspective.

"Clich├ęd as this may sound, it was truly difficult to pick just 10 photographs to acknowledge; even more so to choose the Top 3. My final choices are:


FIRST PLACE - $100

01DavidLeeTillerKermitSnowAngel600.jpg"Kermit Snow Angel" by David Lee Tiller

Brian's comment:

"As mentioned above, I believe that the most successful toy photographs combine elements from a variety of approaches. The winning entry does just that, and it does it very well.

"Kermit is captured in an imagined moment of play in the snow. He's clearly been placed into a manufactured scene, but it is so successful that it feels like a recorded moment of an actual character in the process of making a snow angel. The shot is simultaneously narrative and documentary while featuring a strong, stark compositional perspective often found in still-life.

"My only critique is that I would have liked the composition to be a bit more balanced. I believe that the shot would have benefited from cropping or more negative space on the bottom. Regardless, the concept is executed extremely well, and the finished result speaks for itself."


SECOND PLACE - $50


Brian's comment:

"There have been countless photos of crayons shot before, but it's something deceptively difficult to pull off well. When a photographer chooses to focus on still-life scenes, it's only a very high standard of technique and composition that makes the shot a success.

"The purposeful use of low depth of field, lighting, and arrangement of crayons make this photograph worthy of recognition. While the composition is very strong, I feel there is always room for improvement and further development of a unique, still-life technique and vision. However, the photographer has done an excellent job with a difficult-to-master approach."


THIRD PLACE - $25


Brian's comment:

"A strong composition and captured moment of a child at play won me over on this shot. The blur of the train and purposeful focus draw your eye across the frame and connect you to the crouched child. My only real critique is over the lighting. The hotspot on the track is a little distracting to me and it competes with the rest of the frame.

"Overall, though, a great shot."


Here's a gallery of all Top 10 winners. Congratulations to all!

Here's a look back at the Top 25 finalists.

Don't forget to enter the January "What's That?" contest.


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