What is Miniature Photography?

Some people might say, "It's a small world!" It is a common expression used when you meet someone who is unexpectedly related to you or if you often encounter the same people in different places. It is used figuratively when you find the situation surprising. But what if it becomes smaller? Aren't you curious about what it looks like when people become inferior to everyday items? It is something surreal but isn't it intriguing to know how it works? Maybe experiencing it is a little too much. Perhaps, a glimpse of it is reasonable enough.


Bringing in a new world is a whole different thing.  It is not like the multiple angles that an action camera can give you. Some museums and destinations have oversized sculptures where you can take your photos and make you look smaller. Still, it is not as convincing as those you see on the internet and social media. You may have encountered these photos with tiny people on real-life objects. It is quite interesting to look at and fun to do. Cameras capture these scenes through miniature photography.

Here are a few things to help you understand this genre of photography.


Miniature Photography


Miniature photography refers to the form of photography that involves the use of scale models. It can be with the help of small-scale dioramas or a combination of actual objects and mini-figures. It can make everyday items look gigantic. For example, a group of bakers working on a large piece of cake. Or it can be the other way around where significant structures get reduced in size. It may sound like it is something made-up, but it seems like everything is real in photos.


The Difference Between Miniature Photography and Miniature Effect


Another term that surfaces whenever small-scale photography is being raised is the miniature effect. Some people have used this term with miniature photography interchangeably. Both of them are involved in creating scaled-down subjects on photos. They make objects and scenes look either tiny or gigantic. Yet, there is a considerable difference between the two. 


Miniature photography is taking photos of tiny models, while the miniature effect is a technique to make something look smaller. It is also known as tilt-shift. Here are a few examples to quickly identify them from each other. If you are using diorama people on your pictures, then you are doing miniature photography. It may not be limited to people and other models like buildings and transportation that are smaller in size. 


On the other hand, if you are using the tilt-shift effect, you are manipulating the photo. It can be through the use of lenses or editing applications. The typical impact that you will see on your image is the blurring of foreground and background, resulting in scale-like models of the subjects.


Working with Scale Models


Just like regular photoshoots, you will be working with models. But, they are not the usual models you have in the studio. Your models will vary from people to animals, from buildings to houses, and modes of transportation. Here are several things you should know when working with these scale models.


#1 Outsource of people


You won't be needing an agency to cast your models. All you need is to find a place where you can purchase them. It can be a physical shop or an online shopping website. Some may offer to do customized miniatures according to your needs. If you are crafty enough, you can have the materials and create the figures yourself.


#2 Handle with care


Although they are not easily broken, it is good to handle the models with care. You will realize it when you are setting up the scene. You may bump from one figure to another when you're not careful enough. Thus, creating a delay on your shoot. Have a pair of tweezers or anything that can aid you in holding them.


#3 Invest in a tripod


As always, the common enemy when taking photos is blurry images. It is essential, especially with this kind of photography, to have sharp images. You will be dealing with small-scale items that need more focus than usual. It is not advised to have your pictures taken with your hands. That is why you need to have a tripod for your camera to be more stable. If you have extra budget, you might want to include a remote shutter to minimize movement when clicking the shutter button.


#4 Use good lighting


For this particular project, you can use lightboxes to ensure that everything is perfectly lit. Lightboxes are frequently used in product photography. It offers a softer light distribution and produces fewer shadows. It is best used with solid backgrounds. If you are planning to have a different background, diffusers will be of great help. You can also use other lighting types such as LEDs and fairy lights to brighten up your photo.


#5 Get those angles


Do not let go of the opportunity to have different angles of the scene. Since the models are stationary, you can freely move around without the location changing. It can also help you with the detailing. Altering the scene a bit can also give you better options. Therefore, you will have a lot of material to choose from in post-production.


When you were a kid, you were fond of playing with toys and pretending to coexist with them. As you grow up, you realize that it will be impossible to live with them. Nevertheless, the images you have put into when playing with them don't have to stop there. A fair amount of creativity is needed in doing miniature photography. These little people will not be able to act like themselves without you helping them. In this way, you will be able to photograph them in their everyday lives, just like how you did it in your early years. And if you're playful enough, you can have yourself on those photos as well.