Toys Are Joy — About Toy Photographs.com
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The thing about toys is — you can draw a straight line between a five-year-old child and an 80-year-old adult and you can use toys to connect at both points.
All of us started life with toys. Then something happened. We grew up. At some point, our parents probably told us to put down our toys. We were told that “grown-ups” didn’t play with toys. That mindset is a real shame. For me, toys were an integrel part of an innocent child who loved creating his own universe — filled with unlimited possibilities. Eventually, that universe gave way to a the “real world” that had prejudice, bias and enough negativity to feed an elephant.
Kids LEARN to be biased. They don’t start out that way. And much of what happens to them as they grow steals their joy.
It is possible for adults to remember and actually act on the best parts of their childhoods.
Shoshin ( 初心) is a word from Zen Buddhism meaning ” beginner’s mind. ” It refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner would. The term is especially used in the study of Zen Buddhism and Japanese martial arts. But I try (and unfortunately do sometimes fail) to apply beginner’s mind to the way I live my whole life. It has been my guiding light for decades.
I spent almost four years living in Japan and while there, I learned just a tiny fraction of what it takes to really master a “beginner’s mind.” But even that tiny fraction made a big difference in my approach.
I have had a modicum of success in my life and I owe it all to the fact that I am not afraid to make mistakes. Just as young children sometimes try things that we as adults think are crazy, I have spent as much time possible being too stupid to know I can fail.
But even though I am aware of all this, I sometimes catch myself backsliding and thinking like an “adult.”
That’s why I’m writing this article. I want my childhood innocence back. I know that my tired, old body is here to stay. But I am still a kid in my mind.
I want to build a community of people who remember (fondly as I do) what childhood was like. I want us to remember a time when we thought we could be “magicians” or “astronauts” or a “ranch-hands” or WHATEVER we could dream of — and that was just fine.
I’ve lived a lot of life. I have far fewer days ahead of me than behind me. I know the score. And so does everyone else. I’ve already seen how life treats people like me. We’re no longer cool. We’re invisible. Nobody sees us or frankly cares what we think.
But when you somehow circle back to toys, that changes. So I am here to admit it. I am a “fig-hunter.” I collect 1/6 scale and 1/12 action figures and statues based on pop culture icons. You name it — I want it — or have it. Star Wars, Thor, Spiderman, etc. etc. etc. To me, they are all just toys.
Some of these items are sold in actual toy stores (or in the toy aisle at a super store) so I often find myself walking the aisle of a Walmart or a Game stop. I also spend a great deal of time searching for toys online. To some it may be a waste of time, but to me it’s just plain fun.
I’m lucky because I figured out how to mix something else I am passionate about — photography — with my love of action figures. So I can (in my home studio) set up those far-off worlds where anything is possible and I can make photographs to help tell those stories. I can then share them with anyone who wants to experience them with me.
I plan to do some writing here where I research, explore, unmask and share anything and everything that might be relevant to my crazy toy collection and how I photograph it. I’ll talk about the people I meet along the way and the notion that we can all find the child within if we just let our guard down.
I hope you enjoy the ride.
Remember — Toys are joy.