Diorama Trials & Tribulations

I take a lot of G.I. Joe pictures, but sometimes things don’t necessarily work out the way I want them the first time. Depending on how married I am to the idea, I’ll either accept it and move on, or occasionally I’ll persevere until I get something more closely resembling the image in my head.

One place I look for inspiration is old pictures of the Vietnam War. Mainly because a lot of the early G.I. Joe figures are based off of Vietnam era equipment. One common image is multiple soldiers hauling a wounded soldier off on a stretcher.

Carrying Wounded Comrade

Depending on when the fits of inspiration hit me, I sometimes attempt to draw out a schematic so that I; A. Don’t forget the idea and B. Spend less time fucking around to see if it’ll work.


Rough sketch with legend. Legend says “82 Characters, Doc Stretcher, Battlefield accessories as needed”


Eventually when I get time I attempt pictures, my first one didn’t do much for me; Stretchered

The second attempt wasn’t quite right either; Proto-Stretcher

The third and final attempt was more in tune with what I wanted; Stretcher Case

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7 Responses to Diorama Trials & Tribulations

  1. A-Man says:

    I like that your failures are better than any picture I’ve ever taken. LOL

  2. It’s really cool to see your process. And I have to agree with A-Man– the efforts you’re not satisfied with are a million times better than my best photo. But I also like that it speaks to a universal truth; every artist, no matter their talent level, has work they spent a lot of time/effort on and just aren’t satisfied. I think that’s one of the main things that unites us. We all have different amounts of raw skill and experience, but there will never be a time where everything we do comes out as we see it in our mind’s eye.

  3. This is an awesome guide to the process. I’d have stopped at the first shot as it’s really great. But, when you get to the third photo, you see such a tremendous difference. I feel bad saying that it blows the first photo away because the first one is so good. But, the extra work is worth it for that last shot.

    How much time to you spend setting up a shot like that?

  4. mwnekoman says:

    That’s an excellent process RTG! You make a really good point about how similar the equipment between the early eighties Joes and that from the Vietnam War is. I’ve gone through some WW2 photos before for ideas, but rarely did I find anything that worked quite as well.

  5. Great shot! Man It’s cool to see your thought process. I usually just get baked and think of some soldiers I haven’t no used in a while or am shooting because of a new piece I made

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