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  • Writer's picturemitchelwu

Toy Photography Behind the Scenes: Barbie's Dreamcamper Journey

I was recently commissioned by storied design studio, IDEO, to create an image using Barbie's Dreamcamper. The Dreamcamper is an amazing playset on wheels, with multiple functions, accessories and massive playability. I was commissioned for this project just as the pandemic started and everything shut down, which made things incredibly challenging. The following 4-minute video was created for Mattel, and it covers my journey and process behind this image.

A few more behind the scenes shots.

Loading up the car for the 3 hour drive to our friends' desert property in the San Jacinto Mountains, high above Palm Springs. The car would eventually be filled with camera gear, light stands, lights and more.

Scouting locations for the shoot on my first day there. The camera carrying system and handstrap that I use are from SpiderHolster - the perfect setup for location shooting in all kinds of environments. Being able to keep my hands free for climbing over rocks, or just setting up my toys, is important. It also means I'm not putting my camera down on rocks or in the sand and dirt, where there's always a good chance that it be damaged.

If I’m shooting at ground level, or in a very confined space, I will reach for my Platypod Tripod – the perfect solution for shooting at ground level, or any place a conventional tripod isn’t feasible or allowed. The Platypod Max (shown here) and smaller Platypod Ultra comes with 4 adjustable "feet," which can be adjusted independently of one another to get a super stable setup on irregular surfaces. The feet, which are essentially long screws, have very sharp tips on one end (which are perfect for providing non-slip stability on rocks), and soft rubber padded tips on the other (for safe and secure stability on smooth surfaces). Just attach your favorite ball head to the Platypod and you're set. Extremely compact and portable - love it!

The final setup of Barbie's Dreamcamper at sunrise. I had two LitraPro lights at camera right and camera left in front of the setup providing fill, and one LitraTorch 2.0 in the back to add more light to the two dolls inside the Dreamcamper. I am in awe of Litra's amazing lights. There are currently three different LED lights in their lineup - the LitraTorch 2.0, the LitraPro and the LitraStudio. Basically, there's a light for every budget and/or feature anyone could ever want or need. Swiping from the Litra website - Litra pushes the limits in engineering to make the world's best compact, rugged, waterproof lighting solutions. Whether used with a DSLR, video, action camera or smartphone - or used in a studio, wilderness or below water - Litra's mission is to provide content creators with flexible and unlimited lighting tools. Litra enables photographers and filmmakers to focus on their craft and empowers them to create something beautiful. If your interested in purchasing any of the amazing Litra LED lights I use, go to their website HERE and use code BOOST-15-CREATIVITY to receive 15% off of your purchase.

And be sure to check out Platypod Tripods, an incredibly useful product you'll wonder how you ever did without. This should be in every photographer's kit. Swiping from the Platypod website - Inspired by the duck-billed platypus, an animal with flat and broad feet, Platypods are designed with an unusual but highly ergonomic and elegant shape, perfectly balanced for DSLRs and lenses.

Lastly, check out SpiderHolster - the innovative, game changing way to carry your camera - whether you shoot with a full sized DSLR or a smaller bodied mirrorless camera or point and shoot - there's a SpiderHolster for you. Purchase off their website using code SPIDERGEAR20 for an incredible discount.

If you want to shop all the gear and toys I use, or simply see and learn more about them - check out my store on Amazon -


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