Pop icons in unfamiliar scenes
Looking at JD Hancock’s photostream, it’s easy to understand why he proudly admits to being a self-proclaimed geek. JD loves taking photos of his favorite childhood characters ranging from comic books to science fiction and adventure movies. It’s his creative approach, however, that makes his work unique.
“I go out of my way to make my photos fun and whimsical,” he says in the accompanying video. “I love putting well-known pop culture icons in situations you normally wouldn’t see them in — just to get a laugh out of the viewer.”
To put it simply, JD describes himself as “a kid at heart.” When he first joined Flickr in 2005, JD was amazed by the level of photography on the website and was moved to create images of his own. Unfortunately, he did not have the time to go out to shoot incredible landscapes or portraits.
“I looked around the house and thought, ‘What could I take pictures of?’” JD says. “Finally it hit me. Toys! I’ve got my toys, my kids’ got toys. I realized instead of taking pictures of real life, I could use the characters in my house.”
Using his family’s kitchen as his photo studio, JD used whatever materials he had available, such as flashlights, plastic cups, sticky notes and raisin boxes.
“I really like the idea that I can create a whole world in my kitchen,” JD says. “I’ve gotten to the point where I can get setups done really quickly, then I can spend a lot of time on actually taking the photo and positioning characters the way that I think they should.”
After posting several pictures on Flickr, JD quickly discovered people responding positively to his work. Viewers loved the juxtaposition of seeing their beloved characters in not-so-familiar scenarios.
“I feel like it’s sort of like a behind-the-scenes of what that character is really like in their day-to-day lives,” JD explains. “For example, the thing about Stormtroopers in Star Wars is they’re serious guys helping Darth Vader to keep a tight grip on the universe. But really, they’re just kind of regular guys. I’ve always thought it would be kind of fun to get a picture of what those guys look like after hours or between raids.”
One of his most popular photos is called Four Storms And A Twister.
“I really liked the idea of the Stormtroopers goofing off and trying to get away with doing something fun,” JD says. “Because what they’re supposed to be doing is something awful. But all they want to do is let loose and have a good time!”
JD pushes his creativity further with every photo he takes. One of his favorites is Berry Hard Work — a photo inspired simply by noticing large strawberries in his local grocery store.
“I saw these strawberries and thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if you could just climb all over one of those things?’” JD says. “It was a fun setup, but very challenging. I had to slice the strawberries very, very carefully to make it look like it could have been done by one of the little guys. But in the end, I was happy with the result.”
Over the years, JD has been continuously surprised by the positive feedback he’s received regarding his work, and says it only encourages him to do more. As a result, his photography has been featured in the New York Times, CBS News, Mashable — it’s even been on an album cover.
“My photos are really a labor of love,” JD says. “I like the idea of trying to be a photographer that shows someone something they’ve seen before, but in a completely different way. I have been a fan of geeky stuff since I was a kid, and the idea that other people are getting some enjoyment out of it makes me extremely happy.”
Visit JD’s photostream for more of his photography.
Are you looking for more macro photography? Check out our previous episode: Tiny worlds in drops of water