Supertrooper Prototype Boba Fett by Jason Yang (@workmoreorless)
The White Boba Fett project was launched not too long before Hasbro’s debut #HASBROTOYPIC Fan Figure Photo contest, which also served as our first exposure to some of the most talented toy photographers on Instagram. While all of the finalists produced work that was nothing short of awe-inspiring, there was one photo in particular that stood out to us: Jason Yang‘s iconic portrait of three TIE Fighters. We couldn’t put our finger on it at the time, but there was something different about the photo that set it apart and we knew we had to see more of his work.
Our first visit to Jason’s toy photography Instagram account did not disappoint. Not only was the rest of his work just as captivating, but he also provided numerous behind the scenes photos that were every bit as fascinating as the final images themselves. We quickly learned that his setup routinely looks more like a dimly lit Apple store than a photo studio, and frequently utilizes decidedly unexpected yet surprisingly effective methods of practical effects. In addition to his “serious” work, Jason shows he has a sense of humor in images like Looking for likes in Alderaan places and particuarly his personal “toys with toys” series starring fan favorites like Boba Fett, Kylo Ren, Greedo, a Sandtrooper, and more. Jason also demonstrates his artistic abilities beyond toy photography with a great little series of Star Wars-themed illustrations called “Far Far Away”, in which he produced an exclusive white-armored Boba Fett piece just for us. Fantastic.
Luckily for us, Jason owns a Black Series Boba Fett Prototype 6″ figure and isn’t afraid to photograph it. In addition to generously granting us an interview in which he detailed how he crafts his trademark images and shared valuable and well-articulated insight about toy photography, Jason was also kind enough to provide us with some exclusive prototype Boba Fett images, complete with a behind the scenes glimpse of course. Enjoy!
Please tell us three interesting facts about yourself.
1. I make a living by making things out of thin air.
2. I have 20/15 vision.
3. I’ve been told that I look like Lou Diamond Philips.
What was your earliest Star Wars memory?
Being a child of the 80’s, a lot of my memories growing up were influenced by Star Wars! I distinctly remember watching the bootleg VHS recordings of the Star Wars trilogy that my Dad would tape for my brother and me. Since Boba Fett was (and still is) my favorite original trilogy character, I loved scrapping together a costume from cardboard and scotch tape to reenact my favorite scenes. It was just a shame that Fett went out the way he did that fateful day in the Dune Sea. I mean come on!
You have a background in motion graphics, design, and illustration. How do your skills in those fields translate and/or impact your photography?
I’ve been working professionally as a designer for over a decade in various agencies and production companies. In 2014 I decided to leave my job to start my own business, Invisible Element. Without a doubt it has been the best decision I have made concerning my career! In February 2016, I picked up toy photography as a hobby after being inspired by a handful of Instagram toy photo accounts with @starwarstheblackseries being the most influential. My knowledge and experience with photo manipulation, editing and compositing definitely helped minimize the learning curve as I was getting started. These skills also help me to realize most of the ideas I have for my photos.
How would you describe your toy photography style?
I’d like to think that I’ve developed a fairly unique style that has become somewhat of a calling card. The technique that I particularly use is a sort of hybrid I like to call “digirama”, which employs the use of digital screens for background images and also for lighting. I have dual monitors that I use for the primary background image for my photo. Depending on the scene I’m wanting to create, I’ll use my own photos or grab reference images and create a composite in photoshop. One of my favorite parts of setting up a shot is lighting. As odd as it may sound, I like using handheld devices like my phone, tablet, or laptop for lighting my scene. This gives me the ability to instantly create multiple light sources of varying color and intensity, with complete control and flexibility. I usually shoot in 1:12 or 1:6 scale, so the size of these devices is really convenient. Creating these digirama shots can be really challenging but that is what I ultimately enjoy the most.
Earlier this year you were chosen as a finalist in the Star Wars Hasbro Toy Pic contest that was on display at the Hasbro booth at SDCC. Congratulations! Anything you’d like to share about the accomplishment?
Thank you very much! I’m still humbled and honored to have been chosen out of the several hundred Hasbro Toy Pic submissions. I’ve been a collector of the Star Wars 6″ Black Series line since 2014, so having two of my photos included in the official display was pretty surreal to say the least! I suppose I can check that off the toy photography bucket list!
What are some future goals as a toy photographer?
This will always remain a creative outlet for me, but I enjoy looking for new opportunities to grow and push my work. Eventually I would like to invest in additional equipment including a proper light kit, a couple of lenses I’ve had my eyes on, and of course more toys. I recently purchased a professional printer that I can start using for producing prints.
My toy photography will continue to feature Star Wars, first and foremost, but I’m excited to start introducing more variety in the future. I own several premium collectible figures that I have enjoyed shooting recently, including a 16″ Iron Giant by Mondo, as well as a couple of 1:6 Lord of the Rings figures by Asmus Toys, and the 1:6 Hot Toys Boba Fett.
Most importantly, my main goal (and the most enjoyable part of this hobby) is to continue to interact with the community. I’ve made so many great friends through instagram who I regularly keep up with, including Isaiah Takahashi (@blksrs), and Spencer Witt (@swittpics). It’s relationships like these and many others that make this hobby worthwhile.
What advice would you offer someone who is new to toy photography?
I approach toy photography as a hobby. It’s not something I expect to make an honest living from. I do it because I genuinely love it. In the same way, anyone looking to start toy photography should do it for the fun of it!
Because there are so many established toy photographers producing stunning work, it can be easy for someone to feel overwhelmed and intimidated as a beginner. Although it is easier said then done, don’t compare your work to others’. I have fallen into that trap numerous times throughout my life and nothing healthy ever comes from that. My suggestion is to be inspired by the community and let that drive your personal development as an artist.
I think the best bit of advice that I can share is this: If you take every opportunity to engage in the community and develop meaningful relationships, I guarantee the experience will always be rewarding.
About the Artist
Jason Yang is a freelance art director, motion designer, and illustrator from Tulsa, Oklahoma. His professional portfolio can be found at invisibleelement.com and his toy photography can be viewed at his Instagram account @workmoreorless.