INTERVIEW: Steve Erk’s Photography Speaks To Us

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Say what you want about reddit, but look in the right places and you can meet some pretty interesting people. It was in /r/toys that the work of Steve Erk caught my attention. Erk takes old Star Wars and G.I. Joe toys and photographs them in somewhat everyday settings. He demonstrates skill in staging and lighting these scenes, resulting in humorous works of nerdy modern art that I’d proudly display on my wall.

We reached out to Erk via his website and asked him a few questions about his process.

Nerdy Stuff: Is photography your full time job or just a hobby?

Photography is just a hobby for me. I do sales and marketing for a fastener company.

Nerdy Stuff: Where did you learn to shoot?

I am primarily self taught but my brother (timmspinn.com) showed me the basics when I first got my camera 4 years ago.

Nerdy Stuff: What kind of camera do you use?

Canon EOS Rebel T2i

Nerdy Stuff: What inspired this photo series?

I wanted to bring two of my favorite childhood memories to life by capturing them in normal, everyday settings. I thought they would not only be humorous, but nostalgic for so many people.

Nerdy Stuff: How long have you been doing it for?

I have been working on this series for about six months now.

Nerdy Stuff: Have you always been a toy collector?

Not really. I held on to some of my favorite childhood toys so that I can pass them on to my kids. I still think that I grew up in the best era for toys.

Nerdy Stuff: Do you collect anything else?

I collect Star Wars mini bust statues made by Gentle Giant.

Nerdy Stuff: Do you do touch-ups on the figures or do they all have their original paint jobs?

They all have their original paint jobs but I have replaced the O-Rings and screws in many of the G.I. Joes.

Nerdy Stuff: Are many of the extra props handmade? If not, where do you get them?

Most of the extra props I bought from dollhouse stores on eBay but I did come up with the idea for the G.I. Joe cartoon images to be put in the picture frames.

Nerdy Stuff: How long does a photo shoot usually take?

I usually spend about two to three hours in a shoot. I try to go in with three of four solid concepts but always end up coming up with some new ideas while I’m working.

Nerdy Stuff: What are some of your favorite pictures you’ve taken?

From the Star Wars series, I really like the “Yoda wants some ice cream” shot as well as the “A Bounty Hunter Christmas“.

From the G.I. Joe series, some of my favorites include the G.I. Joe breakfast table, Tomax & Xamot looking at their own picture and the Dreadnoks shooting pool.

Nerdy Stuff: When put together, do you see the photos as forming an overarching narrative?

Yes, I think most of them do. I see them as snapshots of everyday life that puts a different spin on the lives of these characters.

Nerdy Stuff: Do copyright issues prevent you from selling these?

Honestly, I never thought about selling them because I’m sure there would be issues.

Nerdy Stuff: Do you have other creative projects on the go?

My focus right now is still on Star Wars and G.I. Joe because I still have several ideas I want to work on. I have thrown around the idea of working with Dungeons and Dragons.

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