Guerrilla Street Toy Photography Tips

“Guerrilla street toy photography” is not a combination of words that you often come across. But that’s exactly how Jerry Business chooses to define his brand of quirky art. A lifelong punk rocker, Business has always made an effort to challenge mainstream conceptions. So, as he’s transitioned from music to photography, it should come as no surprise that his artwork also breaks the norms most photographers subscribe to:

After nearly a decade of experimenting with miniatures, Business has accrued a collection of over 8,000 toys (and counting). Scouring thrift stores and flea markets wherever he happens to be, he salvages cars, figurines, and plastic knickknacks of all sorts to star as the subjects of his photographs. Often times, he’s drawn to the toys that survive years of use, weathered by the elements and often forgotten in boxes stored away in basements and attics. With the camera, he feels he’s able to provide these objects with a new life.

Traveling around the country, the burgeoning artist always has a toy or two on hand. He creates scenes based on his surroundings. In particular, he enjoys visiting places like New York City that are filled with iconic landmarks. He believes that having a recognizable environment plays a beneficial role in building the stories he’d like each photograph to convey. However, Business is known for being quick on his feet and can manage to conjure inventive images just about anywhere.

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His weapon of choice? Unlike many professionals, Business sticks to using his iPhone to get the perfect photo. While some may scoff at his lack of a traditional camera, he wouldn’t have it any other way. As he points out, his phone allows him to operate incognito. As he stealthily snags shots, passersby more often than not go on entirely unaware of the miniature worlds Business builds.

photographing toys in nyc

The key to Business’s artistic success is, above all, his confidence in himself. Unafraid to put himself in awkward situations or experiment with unusual angles, he’s willing to do whatever it takes to make his photographs work. Despite garnering some strange looks from time to time, he doesn’t let other people’s opinions stand in the way of making something beautiful or exciting. Rather than overthink, he improvises and makes do with the things he has on hand. His cavalier attitude toward art, as a result, translates into a whimsical end product that ignites the imagination.

how to photograph toys in the city

“For me, it’s just the possibilities of what you can do and create…that creative, open mind you have as a kid, when you’re exposed to toys. As you get older, people think that that’s childish, but really, it’s the key to life – that kind of creativity.”

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