Everybody needs an escape from their daily routine. But while some choose to do so sketching their own hilarious web comics (opens in new tab) or improving their pencil art (opens in new tab) skills, diorama artist Stephen Hayford has turned his love of action figures into a career.
Life In Plastics: Pop Culture & Silver Screen (opens in new tab) is the latest collection of carefully composed and witty photographs which channel Stephen's talents from his time as a photojournalist. Each image uses toys and custom figures to re-create famous movie scenes or tell original stories.
Not surprisingly, given that lots of his pictures involve stormtroopers and Darth Vader, Stephen can trace his passion for action figures back to when he first saw Star Wars as a child.
"In 1978, when I first had Star Wars figures in my grubby little mitts, I was inspired to re-create the scenes I had seen on the big screen," he explains. "This hadn't happened with me with other toys. And it soon turned into creating stories based on those characters, based on their personalities, grounded in environments that were plausible in their galaxy."
This fascination with visual storytelling turned into a career as a photojournalist. However Stephen needed a way to unwind after covering dark news stories.
"I turned back to my childhood love of Star Wars action figures as an escape at the end of the day," he says. "Creating new figures, customising existing figures into characters that hadn't been made, was my catharsis. That quickly evolved into creating dioramas of full scenes."
Working with official merchandise as well as custom builds, Stephen toils away for hours to produce photos that are loaded with his unique sense of humour.
"It's not as simple as setting up the items so they look good together, you have to constantly get behind the camera to see how the lens sees the items," Stephen reveals. "But it's a frustration I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world. You can't beat making a living playing with toys!"
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