Split Personality

“Split Personality” by Paul Tresadern

Lighting, angles, and creative backdrops. While there are no shortages of excellent examples of each within the toy photography community, it’s Paul Tresadern’s unique blend of all three that makes his images stand out to us. Even just a brief glance at his Instagram feed and you will instantly see what we mean.

Take this incredible photo of Jango Fett for example. Quick, what is that in the background? A never-before-seen Firespray-class interceptor from the far reaches of Expanded Universe lore? Actually, it’s a BISSELL CleanView series vacuum cleaner laying on its side. Or this cleverly angled image of Rey scavenging inside a desktop computer case that can pass for the interior of a Star Destroyer wreckage any day of the week. Or in the case of this incredible shot of Mace Windu, a couple of simple elements are all Paul needs. Go ahead, compare it to the scene from Revenge of the Sith. Uncanny, isn’t it?

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Some other favorites of ours include this exceptional recreation of the Death Star trench run, an iconic shot of Darth Vader’s helmet, this absolutely spine-tingling image of a Rancor, this brilliant portrayal of Luke and Rey using Funko Pops, another photo of Mace Windu that involves very cool use of holes, and this fantastic mashup of Star Wars and the Rockefeller Center. In addition, we want to point out that Paul is an excellent storyteller and is also not afraid to experiment with a variety of camera angles, both of which result in a large number of excellent photo series. That, plus an affinity for shooting at 24mm all contribute to Paul’s unique style.

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What is the earliest memory you have of Star Wars?

Well, I feel very lucky as I was eight years old in May 1977 when Star Wars was released. Also a stroke of luck that a trip to the dentist, and the fact I was a brave boy, my mother rewarded me with a trip to the cinema. Now bear in mind I had no choice of which film I was about to see until I was plonked on a seat and the title rolled, “A long time ago in a galaxy far far away” and all that. Well what ensued was spell binding! Every eight year old should have that experience. I don’t think I will ever forget it. Now my mind was so stimulated and overflowing with imagination. Star Wars had a big effect on me for sure. Now it was my mission to find out about everything to do with Star Wars so I joined the official fan club and collected the action figures, comics, badges, you name it. I just had to have it. Through my young teens as the other films came along and it got bigger and bigger I felt so good to be part of it all but what surprised me the most is that it never leaves you. Now with the stories expanded to create the back story to “A New Hope” 39 years on for me, I just love it and it still makes me happy! A big thank you to my Mum and Mr. George Lucas. Cheers for the memories.

What inspired you to get into toy photography?

I was uploading some of my portrait and wedding photography from England on Flickr when I happened to see some mini toy macro shots. I was impressed with the creativity of the pictures and had always want to try something like this. I brought my original Star Wars figures from the UK when I emigrated to the US in 2008 so I started setting up a few scenarios and photographing them with poor results (I will have to upload a few for the laugh). This was late 2015. Then later that week I saw an auction on eBay for a Black Series Boba Fett. I thought “wow, nice details on the figure and not a million bucks”. Once I purchased the figure, and a few more I had seen in the stores, I started taking photos again and uploaded a few on Flickr. I received a really nice comment from chevy2who who is a well known Instagram account too, and that was it. I was up and running, and never looked back. In fact I only do this type of photography now. I love this community on Instagram, so friendly and helpful and extremely talented too.

Who is your favorite Star Wars character, and is he/she also your favorite to photograph?

My favorite Star Wars character is Boba Fett and ultimately he is my favorite to shoot. I really like the mystery surrounding the character. I feel we as Star Wars fans can go nuts in the creative department with him because of his limited screen time. We can create unlimited back stories.

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As we mentioned in the introduction, three characteristics that stood out to us about your photography are lighting, angles, and creative backdrops. How would you describe your style?

My photography style I would describe as macro realism. 24mm wide angle for the creative side, I strive for details and try and make the photo as life-like as possible. I will try any angle always pushing to find the perfect point of view. I build sets out of junk lying around the house or thrift stores. I think on my feet once I have a concept in mind.

In your featured photo as well as a couple of others, you have an Empire Strikes Back Boba Fett standing next to a white-armored prototype Boba Fett. What’s the story behind this photo, and which one is the real Boba Fett?

This photo was a light experiment. I had a rotating disco light bulb and I dragged it across the frame to create the effect. I had already had the two Boba’s set up for another shoot idea. I loved the outcome so I stuck with that photo. As for which is the real Boba Fett, well technically the white-armored prototype Boba Fett came first in early “Empire” concepts but I would have to go with the one we all know with the Mandalorian symbol on his shoulder. However, the two Boba Fett’s themselves are not sure which one is real, and the psychedelic light adds to the chaos in their minds. Maybe the inhalation of some spice from Kessel messed them up, haha!

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We can’t help but also point out that you’ve set a Stormtrooper on fire in a recent series of photos. Please tell us all about it!

Haha! This came about because I want to move into real practical effects as I don’t use Photoshop. I have a mini fog machine and multi levels of lights but I was interested in how fire would photograph. I have a beat up custom experimental storm-trooper so I thought, let’s go for it and set the poor guy on fire for a bit! I was pleased with the initial results so I’ll be experimenting more dramatic pyro effects down the road.

Lastly, what is the best advice you would offer to someone who is new to toy photography?

My advice to up and coming toy photographers would be to have fun, don’t be afraid to try anything, and go with your first instinct: it usually works out better than you think it will. Art is subjective and if you like it that’s all that matters; the rest is a bonus.

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About the Artist

Paul Tresadern is a toy photographer based in Arizona, and originally from Nottingham, England. Follow his Instagram account @red_dog_5 to stay updated with his latest work.