Miniature Diorama Photographer
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OmArtist: Your art is such a unique form of creativity. Could you explain to our audience what miniature diorama photography is and how you came to create in this unique way?
Tourmaline . : Miniature diorama photography, also called toy photography is a form of tableau photography, where a stage is set before the camera lens, but in small scale.
I created my first ever photos of miniatures in high school as a response to an English project. I didn’t find myself dabbling with this form of photography again until college when tasked with a narrative photo assignment. All the narratives I envisioned were quite involved and the more I brain-stormed how best to represent them, the more I became focused on miniature objects.
Miniatures are icons of their full scale counterparts and therefore allow me to tell big stories in a minute way. With them, I can fully manipulate the scene before me.
OmArtist: With your art being so multifaceted, there is a need for you to be part painter, part sculptor, and part photographer, amongst other hats I’m sure. Can you describe your over all creative process for our audience?
Tourmaline . : My photos come to represent my worldview and my emotions. So first, I observe and plan and try to fully develop what I aim to depict. Then, if I don’t already have the necessary props I research ones to buy, or consider how to make the backdrops, surrounds, and all things involved.
Often times, when using HO scale figures (2 cm tall train scale figures), I will cut apart and glue their various pieces together to get the pose I’d like as otherwise these figures are molded entirely rigid. Patterned scrapbook paper is a great far off sky or living room wall. I also will paint paper to the same effect if I’m looking for something more specific. All in all though, I keep my sets quite simple, allowing them to be transformed with light and through my camera lens.
OmArtist: Aside from the skill and creativity it takes to build the scenes themselves, your work speaks to the skillful macro techniques, the beautifully precise depth of field (DOF) and composition in your photography. What came first, the miniatures or the photography? Did one lead to the other?
Tourmaline . : Thank you very much. I suppose the photography came first, at least as far as my artistic journey is concerned. I decided in high school that I wanted to be a photographer. At the time however, I was only interested in black and white landscapes developed in the dark room. That said, since 3 or 4 years old, if not sooner I have always been fascinated with miniatures, the smaller the better. Coveting my grandmother’s shadow box shelf, I would gently pick up and observe the tiny intricacies that lied within it. It seems only inevitable that these two passions would end up combined. It simply took me awhile to get there. Since I have though, I haven’t looked back.
OmArtist: Being an artist requires one to experiment in this day and age. It seems to me that your style of creating would require you to be highly experimental. Can you talk a little about that part of your work for us?
Tourmaline . : My work, for me, is definitely experimental. While I remain focused on miniature scenes in my art, I believe this type of photography can span all genres of the medium in its own way – from portraiture to architecture, surreal and documentary. And in this, I like to dabble in each possibility. On top of that, for each photo, I’m discovering how best to lay out the scene, how much of which to remain mysteriously hidden in darkness or fog, how to make everything stay precisely in it’s place and so on. I’m constantly finding a balance between obscuring scale to create realistic images, and leaving hints of the miniature world within. It’s a fascinating process, of which I’m not sure I’ll ever be done evolving.
OmArtist: What is the most common materials/mediums you’ve used and what is the most unusual materials/mediums you have used in creating these amazing miniatures?
Tourmaline . : Paper and plastic figures are found over and over in my photographs. Almost as common are clay, glue and cardboard. Maybe not entirely uncommon, but for me, I’ve found myself using play sand and a fog machine more and more. And most recently I’m experimenting with mirror chrome paint.
OmArtist: Tourmaline ., why did you choose this style of creative expression? What is it about this type of art that drives your passion and speaks to you?
Tourmaline . : It may sound too simplistic, but I’ve always been obsessed with the tiniest objects. I also like the idea of photography as transformative. As magic. That with the right angle and lighting the smallest things can be brought to life. I like being able to fully manipulate the scene before me to create precisely what is in my head, and I also like toys as icons, both present and unattainable.
OmArtist: You’ve created book covers and album art for clients, to some extent interpreting their book or music into art that encompasses their body of work. When and how did this type of work present itself to you? Do you find this type of work enjoyable?
Tourmaline . : I am very passionate about print medium. While I don’t read as often as I’d like, I would much prefer paper to a screen. And I believe a cover speaks volumes about its contents. My style of photography is very illustrative and therefore lends itself well to interpretations of stories. While work with clients has its ups and downs, overall I very much enjoy visually bringing to life an authors work. My first foray into this type of creation was for my father’s book back in 2012 – Working Would be Great if it Weren’t for Managers.
OmArtist: As someone who identifies yourself as an Empath, how do you think feeling/absorbing others energies affects your art work? Or your ability to create?
Tourmaline . :I like to think that all of my art work is emotive. Each piece represents an emotion – and often those emotions are that of loneliness, anxiety, depression and the like. I absorb what others are feeling around me almost instantaneously. I watch a movie and put myself in each characters shoes, which can make scenes of pain whether mental or physical very difficult for me.
While my deeply emotional nature can get in the way of creating as I can experience debilitating anxiety, when I do get into my studio, or when I simply sit down to brainstorm, the ideas flow like waterfalls. And those ideas are always based around portraying these emotions. I can’t say they’re always good ideas – but part of the joy of creating is figuring out what works and what doesn’t.
OmArtist: Tourmaline . , how do you feel mindful practices like living in the moment and/or meditation/prayer (if you practice them) contribute to what you create and your success as an artist?
Tourmaline . : I’m not very good at living in the moment. But I find when I let myself be and stop putting so much immense pressure on myself I can create much more eloquent art.
OmArtist: We believe that art carries with it the energy of the artist. What are your thoughts on this statement with regard to your work?
Tourmaline . : Every single creative act is a personal one. I don’t believe art can be created without the artist fully immersed within it.
OmArtist: Tourmaline . , thank you so much for the opportunity to interview you. We are blown away by the skills you have and the work it takes to create your amazing images. We wish you continued success! You are appreciated!