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© Ute Reckhorn

© Ute Reckhorn

The holidays are just around the corner, and time for me to think about the image I will be using for my annual holiday card. Sending a custom card to my friends, family, and clients is a fun way for me to celebrate the season. It's also a great way for me to showcase the fun of toy photography. It's almost like toy photography and the holidays were made for each other!

While I know that for many, sending greeting cards is a dated tradition. Mostly because I get so few, but I still enjoy creating and sending a new card each year. I know that my cards are well received because all my friends tell me so! They are little reminders to friends and family to remember the magic of the season.


Where do ideas come from?


I'm often asked where my ideas come from. Honestly, I don't really know, only that they are literally everywhere when you start looking. Taking the time to make it happen is always the hard part!

When I first start thinking of potential holiday photo ideas, I try to put myself in the main character's place. What would Santa do for fun and relaxation? Who would he interact with? What other animals might inhabit the same universe? What are the elves up to when they aren't working? What pop culture mashups can I create with toys?


"I want to challenge you to capture your own holiday magic through a toy that you have a connection to."

The beauty of toy photography is that anything is possible. How much fun is that??

Or maybe he escapes the work pressures by going fishing?

Of course, he loves to hang out with Mrs. Claus. Maybe they're avid ice skaters!

Just thinking about the mischief that elves can get into puts a smile on my face. Then I think about the holiday specials I watched as a kid, and I think about the island of misfit toys and what that might look like. Christmas songs are another great place to get ideas for images. I wonder what "I saw mommy kissing Santa Claus under the mistletoe last night" might look like as a toy photo? When I start playing the "what if" game, the fun really begins!


Holiday Gift Ideas

Besides unique greeting cards, toy photography can also be used to create special gifts for a friend or family. My dog has a best friend, and I had fun creating this image as a gift for the owner. Now we each have this fun image to commemorate the friendship of our dogs.


Other creative ideas to share the magic of the season:



  • Create and frame a portrait of your child's favorite toy.
  • Create a shadow box with a toy photo featuring your child's (or friend's) favorite toy and include the actual toy.
  • Recreate a family memory with toys and share it with those involved.
  • If your kids balk at a family portrait, create Minifigures that look like them and photograph them instead!
  • Write a short story starring your child's favorite toy and take a few photos to illustrate that story. Bonus: print the book to share!


Connect with the magic


What I like about photographing toys is that I can never take myself too seriously. And when I combine toy photography with the holiday season, I remember viewing the season through the eyes of a child. It's that special time of year when my inner child and I still believe that anything is possible.

One of the many joys of using toys as models is that now I get to share that feeling of possibility and joy with family and friends. By reconnecting with my childhood sense of wonder, I'm able to find joy, gratitude, and the true meaning of the holidays for myself.


I want to challenge you to capture your own holiday magic through a toy that you have a connection to. This could be your own toy, your child's toy, or maybe it's a toy you always wished you'd owned. Take a photo of this toy enjoying the beauty, joy, or playfulness of the season. I truly hope that it will help you connect with the magic of the season as much as it helps me!

P.S. - If you would like to connect with other Lensbaby toy photographers, you can find us on Instagram using the hashtag #Lensbabytoyphotographyclub. Or stop by the Lensbaby Unplugged Facebook group and share your images on #ToyTuesday! We can't wait to meet you!



Want your shots featured by Lensbaby?⁠
Be bold and shoot extraordinary! Make sure to tag your photos on IG with #Lensbaby, #ShootExtraordinary, and let us know what gear you’re using. 📸 ⁠


Shelly Corbett

Shelly is an photographer residing in Seattle, Washington. Shelly sells her work at local art shows, teaches on-line toy photography workshops and is a creativity coach. Let Shelly show you how to get creatively unstuck through the power of play and storytelling.






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