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Matinee: Pro Toy Photographer Mitchel Wu Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

24 October 2020

Saturday matinees long ago let us escape from the ordinary world to the island of the Swiss Family Robinson or the mutinous decks of the Bounty. Why not, we thought, escape the usual fare here with Saturday matinees of our favorite photography films?

So we're pleased to present the 276th in our series of Saturday matinees today: Pro Toy Photographer Mitchel Wu.

This 60 second clip features Los Angeles photographer Mitchel Wu shooting his favorite subject. Toys.

When we visited Wu's gallery, Safari 14 displayed strange multi-colored pixels in the highlights of his images. But Firefox did not. Even more strangely, Safari 14 on our other laptop did not. So we downloaded an image, opened it in Photoshop and saved it the way we save our own images for publication. It displayed without issue in Safari 14.

Wu stages plastic toy characters in scenes designed to tell a story, adding "the illusion of motion and emotion where none exists." And he does it for a living with clients that include Disney, Warner Brothers, Hasbro and Mattel among others.

The video takes us immediately to a tiny stage where Wu is adding a little smoke and even a few small explosions to the scene. On the next set, he uses compressed air to spray some water behind a motorbike doing a wheelie to make it appear the bike is cutting through water. Then he throws dirt on a prehistoric scene in which the Flintsones are escaping a dinosaur.

You see the finish frames flash briefly before your eyes after each trick. And that's just the first 10 seconds of this compact video.

"What really drew me to this medium was the ability to tell incredible stories," he says. "And to be able to get back to my childhood."

He shoots with Canon gear and maintains The Toy Photographers Shop with links to all his gear partners so you too can shoot like Wu.

But he doesn't have an assistant. "I wear all the hats," he says as we see him modifying a figurine with a drill.

But he loves it. The playfulness, the joy. "That's the key," he adds.

Sixty seconds isn't really enough, although there's plenty packed into this clip. To see more, visit Wu's Web site for a gallery of images and his blog.


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