Photographing Lovable, Huggable Teddy Bears
Teddy bears have been a staple toy since they were first introduced and have been loved and hugged and cherished by generations of children and often many an adult.
From modern to vintage to collectibles, these plush toys are known all over the world. Some vintage samples, usually one of a kind, can fetch hefty sums.
"The name Teddy Bear comes from former United States President Theodore Roosevelt, whose nickname was "Teddy". The name originated from an incident on a bear-hunting trip in Mississippi in November 1902, to which Roosevelt was invited by Mississippi Governor Andrew H. Longino." Wikipedia
There is something special about teddy bears to the point that when other toys or stuffed animals become worn or they are outgrown they often get discarded but not so with teddy bears.
They seem to capture the hearts of those to whom they are given. Whole industries have evolved around them. They are many stores that cater to teddy bears enthusiast, often providing several costumes,and other accessories to make your teddy bear creation truly unique and exclusively yours.
A photo project involving teddy bears is not only fun but can often bring many many fond memories, especially if you have been fortunate to have own one at one time or another.
Treat this project as you would treat any other photographic project and do your best to record images that are not only technically precise but the key element in the project will be to elicit feelings and emotions as well as memories from an audience as they "see" and "feel" the feelings and emotions that often accompany such a subject.
Here is a little history and other facts regarding this quite cute, fuzzy and very huggable toy:
"The teddy bear is a stuffed toy bear. They are usually stuffed with soft, white cotton and have smooth and soft fur. It is an enduring form of a stuffed animal in many countries, often serving the purpose of entertaining children. In recent times, some teddy bears have become collector's items. Now, teddy bears come in various styles and people can dress them up in many different articles of clothing. Teddy bears are also among the most popular gifts for children and significant others on Valentine's Day, birthdays, Christmas and other holidays. Even adults sometimes keep such stuffed animals as novelties, and some consider it a hobby- much like collecting stamps, or coins." Wikipedia
Take photographs in close ups to show details of their plushness and workmanship. Also do images that highlight accessories and details in their clothing. Pay close attention to the eyes as they are often very detailed and seem almost human. Include in your photos scenes of children interaction with them, images of them as collection pieces.
To photograph subjects as this, it is best to use diffused light sources to avoid casting strong shadows and at 45 degree angles. Also good is to showcase them against either black backdrops or colorful single color ones. Note that you have to pay attention when using a black background because the majority of teddy bears are a dark brown and depending on the subject's color its edges can become lost in the backdrop. Better colors are usually strong blues, reds, and yellows.
Manually set your aperture to its largest setting to allow as much light to reach the film or sensor and do not worry about trowing the background elements into out of focus since the emphasis is on the subject. Let the camera select the shutter speed.
Try to not only photograph them in simple poses, be creative and pose them in fun poses as if they were real. Scenes with them sitting on a rocking chair, reading a book or riding a bike and so on are good and creative ways and make for good photographs.
There are many bear creations that are made to look almost human like cowboys, police officer, nurses, brides and grooms, babies, firefighters, pilots and many more. Do include some of these images in your project.
Try to find samples of antique or vintage subjects and compare them with images of more recent modern editions. Your photographic project should include a good mixture of new and old, of the usual more traditional samples as well as the more modern looking creations.
Some teddy bears have become an industry unto themselves and there are quite a number of manufactures like the Vermont Teddy Bear Company whose sole specialty is to design and sell teddy bears creations complete with full accessories. These are often available at not so modest prices but frequently worth every penny.
Photographs of teddy bears have been used in home and office décor for a long time and the better images are often quite in demand by photographic stock houses, the poster industry and greeting card companies.
© 2011 Luis E Gonzalez
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