How To Use Miniature Photography To Conjure Surreal Dream Worlds

Mexican photographer Felix Hernandez creates masterful dreamscape fantasy by using his toy miniatures and the magic of illusion.

Spending hours alone in his bedroom as a child, Hernandez tells us that he would play with his toys and weather them down to match the scene in his head. As an adult things haven’t changed much, the only difference is that he now has a camera in his hands.

Hernandez says that toy photography isn’t too different from other kinds of photography; however, it does carry some quirky differences that need to be taken into consideration. For one, scale is important to bear in mind when evoking a sense of realism between toy and the background. Because a macro lens creates depth of field, Hernandez needs to use focus stacking techniques to provide the grandiose scale required of these big shots.


Inner Trip / Felix Hernandez

While he shoots his toy models in the studio with studio flashes, Hernandez is also keen to stress that the lighting set-up falls somewhere between product photography and that used for a real-life model. “All the basics of lighting in a studio apply but need to be scaled down,” mentions Hernandez. “I normally shoot with a beauty dish and / or a snoot for the models and two more lights for the background if I want it to be pure white.”

“The possibilities are endless and there is no recipe, only use your imagination and try different things.”

Once the photography set-up is in place, Hernandez focuses his attention on creating a living backdrop by using physical props. Some of his secret tips involve the use of wheat flour for snow swept landscapes, corn flour for desert plains, and cigarette smoke to create a moody atmosphere. “I love photo manipulation and digital art, but what I really find cool is creating effects in camera,” he says.


War Wings / Felix Hernandez

The dreamscape photographer polishes of his work by using Photoshop to add an additional punch to the image. He adds elements only to complement the story at hand, effects such as motion blur and color grading are used to sell the shot playing in his mind.

But above all else, the most important tool to bring to the table is passion and a sense of adventure. “Most of the things you will need are at home or found in a superstore. You just need to be creative with what you’ve got”.

To see more of Hernandez’s dream world photography, be sure to check out his website and follow him over on 500px and Facebook.


The Crow / Felix Hernandez


Troopers / Felix Hernandez


The Wardrobe / Felix Hernandez

Title photo: Inner Trip

Images used with permission