Behind the Scenes with Toy Photographer, Jax Navarro
Q: What was it that got you interested in action figure photography?
A: Star Wars was definitely the main driver. Shortly after The Force Awakens was released, my wife bought me an app controlled mini BB-8 figure. During that time I was already into photography so I started shooting this BB-8 and I really liked how those initial photos came out so I published them on Instagram. When the “brains” of Instagram discovered this, I started seeing toy photography content (which I never knew existed) on the explore page. To say that I was intrigued is an understatement! From there I discovered The Black Series line and the rest is history!
Q: You recently photographed the Heroes of Endor action figure set from Star Wars: The Black Series. Can you give our readers some details about your approach to that project?
A: The scene that stood out the most for me during the Battle of Endor was the Speeder Bike chase. I wanted to recreate the iconic “Luke leap” but do it in a way that was different, but still within the confines of that scene. I pictured Luke having sort of an exaggerated “Force Jump” while wielding his lightsaber. What Luke does with the lightsaber will be left to the audience’s discretion. Now that I had the concept, the next challenge was to somehow get Endor in my studio. I purchased some organic ground soil from the hardware store and moss from the craft store to achieve the “foresty looking” ground. I then purchased a forest themed stock photo that blended well with the ground. The photo was displayed on a 55-inch monitor in the background completing the mini Endor environment in my studio.
Q: As an artist, what are some of the things you draw inspiration from?
A: I like to play off of current events, whether it be news, pop culture, movies, television or sports. I also love comedy, especially sketch comedy. Dave Chapelle’s sketches are probably my favorite. I’m always looking for ways to make the audience laugh when I’m thinking of a concept.
Q: In your opinion, what is the most important element of a great action figure photograph?
A: That’s an excellent question! Every element plays a huge part in the grand scheme of things. Posing, lighting, and composition are all important but a great story will elevate your photo to another level. You can create the most visually beautiful photograph, but if you want to leave an impact on your audience you need to be able to extract some type of feeling or emotion from them. A great story will draw those feelings out. For me personally, I’m drawn to content that makes me laugh or a piece that brings a feeling of nostalgia.
Q: Any advice for aspiring action figure photographers? What’s the one thing you wish someone had told you when you started out?
A: 1. Challenge yourself. In order to grow in any craft you have to embrace those things you find difficult and uncomfortable. Let that be your compass. For me in the beginning it was mastering indoor or studio photography. Creating my own environment and learning how to light it definitely made me grow as a photographer. 2. Study posing. Posing action figures is an art in itself. The best thing to do here is use a reference photo and of course, practice, practice, practice! 3. Create from the heart. Your art should be an expression of you and the things you are passionate about!