“The Great Son” by Jonathan Rendon
When we first saw Jonathan Rendon’s Instagram feed, two things immediately stood out to us: First, there is a large variety of genres and toys including high end action figures, bobbleheads, LEGO minifigures, and even diecast cars. The second is the indisputable quality of his background sets and lighting. Just go to Jonathan’s Instagram feed and look at pretty much any processed photo and you’ll see what we mean.
Jonathan’s style also encompasses a wide range, from the humorous to the iconic, and from the dramatic to the… we’re not even sure how to classify this. One thing they all have in common is that clearly an enormous amount of thought and work went into crafting each of his images.
Last but not least, we were pleasantly surprised to discover that in the midst of Jonathan’s diverse assortment of photos was not only an image of a Black Series Boba Fett Prototype, but one that was exceptionally well done. As a bonus, Jonathan also generously shares his insight on how he created the photograph in our interview with him, as well as some exclusive behind-the-scenes photos.
What was your favorite Star Wars memory growing up?
The Death Star Attack, and knowing that a squad of single man fighters were able to infiltrate the Death Star. Keep in mind I had to see the movie several times before I got to appreciate that scene. After that I wanted an X-Wing Fighter. I was only nine years old and wanted to feel the force myself.
According to a recent Instagram bio, you are a beginner to the hobby but you clearly have an incredibly strong command of lighting and composition, not to mention some great background sets too. Did you have any previous experience to build on, and how did you get into toy photography?
I got into photography in 2009 all thanks to my son Aidan. It was October and we wanted to carve pumpkins and we had the idea of printing a photo of him but we didn’t have a very good quality photo so we went out and purchased the most expensive camera I could afford, a Nikon DSLR. After making that purchase we totally forgot about carving the pumpkins and could not stop shooting. After that I became an event photographer for several Chicago-based companies. With all the experience that I have developed over the years, I did not know it was going to payoff for my future in toy photography. I have always been a fan of action figures, especially since I grew up in the 90’s when the best cartoons where out. I was a big fan of X-Men, Spider-Man, Batman: The Animated Series, Power Rangers, etc. but about 4 months ago a couple of toy photography buddies of mine inspired me to chase the dream myself and became a toy photographer. I would like to thank them for bringing me along and showing me the way of this awesome and very supportive community, so thanks Antonio Ojeda (@chicagotoyhunters) and Germain Diaz (@c_u_next_2sday) for being such a great inspiration.
Your portfolio so far has a great mix of different genres, with Star Wars being just one small slice of the pie. Despite that, the Boba Fett prototype has already made an appearance. What inspired you to use him as a subject?
What inspired me was all these awesome toy photographer using the Boba Fett prototype in such awesome lighting and composition that I wanted to be part of that amazing group of people. The Boba Fett prototype is already such an awesome figure with such great detail that I was pretty scared of even trying to photograph it.
We always like to think that every great photograph tells a story. What scenario has Boba Fett found himself in?
After watching the fight scene between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Jango Fett from Attack of the Clones, knowing that little Boba Fett was on the ship made me wonder what if Boba Fett himself had a son and what would he do to protect him, so I pictured him fighting his way through soldiers to get to his son. In this particular scene I had him jumping on an action pose shooting his way through trouble to get to the aid of his son. I have always been a big fan of fathers going to the extreme for their children.
You have some great behind the scenes photos of your shoot. What can you tell us about the setup?
My set is all project panels foam from your local Home Depot and some acrylic paint from Michael’s. I saw my scene in a black planet with rocks and craters on them and I tried my best to capture what I was actually thinking and although I had five small pieces of rock I had to Photoshop and clone the rest of them. Now my lighting came out to be just as I had wanted it. Using a low ISO of 100 at f1/125 and really bright LED lights to just get the right color and detail in. I am a beginner of making my diorama sets, but so far so good.
What is your dream goal as a toy photographer?
My dream goal is to become an awesome toy photographer and to be known for my work and to work with some of the great toy companies. Product photography has always been on my list but working with toys is just a dream come true. I instantly become a child.
Lastly, what advice would you offer to someone who is new to toy photography?
My only advice would be don’t be afraid of trying something new and thinking outside the box. Always believe in yourself and your creativity. Oh yeah, and natural light is always your best friend
About the Artist
Jonathan Rendon is an accomplished event photographer and is known for his unique style of toy photography. Jonathan loves to bring his toys to life by creative thinking and great composition, and is developing a unique style in his diorama building as well. Being a husband and a father, he still finds ways to enjoy his toys with his kids by having his kids help him with setups and equipment, always trying to spread joy with all his images. Jonathan’s toy photography portfolio can be viewed on his Instagram account @2ndcitytoys and his event photography portfolio at www.jonrendon.com. For business inquiries or just to say hi, Jonathan can be reached at “2ndcitytoys” on Kik Messenger or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.