When I hear the word festival, the first thing to come to mind is an event overflowing with sweaty, miserable people searching for shade and actual festivities for those over the age of ten. So when I was told we were going to the Kentuck Festival of the Arts, I was expecting the typical festival. My expectations were entirely wrong. This festival was full of activities for all ages, the most impressive being the art: sculptures, paintings, glass— you name the art, and it was there.
However, the photography captured my attention. There is something about the way people can capture a moment in life or tell an entire story in one picture that is phenomenal to me. So a few weeks before the festival, I browsed through the artists coming, focusing a good bit on the photographers, and came across an artist who stood out among all the others.
After wandering around the festival with my friends for a while, I found this photographer’s canopy. As we approached, I heard laughter and saw smiles from people browsing through photo bins on tables and looking at pictures hanging on the canopy walls. The pictures were full of toys – some from movies or cartoons, others just toys – posed in various scenes and scenarios, most having an old city background. Witty titles and captions joined the toys on their old city adventures. I went through a few and laughed and smiled, too. I recognized some of the photos from this photographer’s website but others were new to me. (The pictures featuring Disney toy and labeled “For Bathroom Use” were definitely not on the website.) When I finished looking through the photos, I glanced at my friends before going to interview the photographer, Chad Moore.
Moore’s whimsical use of toys may seem an odd subject matter for photography but Moore makes it work. He explained to me that he likes to juxtapose the old and aged against the new and young. This was why downtown Birmingham is the backdrop for many of his photos and why he uses pop culture in his themes.
“We all speak through pop culture,” he said. “I see a connection and I try to put it together.”
Moore said another reason he uses pop culture as subject matter is because it’s fun and entertaining. In his work, he hopes to get people to smile and laugh, which he accomplishes with his children’s toys.
Taking pictures of toys has its ease and its difficulties. The ease, as he explained, was with his subject matter being small, so the backgrounds are too, which makes the shoots faster. But difficulties come in when the weather does not cooperate. He told me how, in one of his shoots titled “Dirty Dancing,” he had to glue the toys together in order to get the shot because the wind kept knocking them over. It can also get tricky when he does his shoots early in the morning to avoid people.
Moore plans many of his photo shoots before going out and taking them, with toys and captions in mind. He told me that he takes his pictures early in the morning so he won’t be seen.
Despite this, Moore enjoys his work. “I don’t see myself stopping in the foreseeable future,” he told me. And I hope he doesn’t. His work is unique and tells fun and entertaining stories. To see more of Chad Moore’s photos, you can visit his website, on which he has the saying, “In the reckless pursuit of whimsy.” And there, whimsy can be found.