I first discovered Kyleigh (perhaps better known by her Instagram moniker, Captain Dangerous) on Tumblr and I was immediately struck by her talented photography. In her photos, which feature not real people, but figures of characters (typically from Nintendo games), fantasy realms seem to come to life. When I first saw the photos, I instantly felt transported.
Upon speaking with her, I realized that she was a generous and enthusiastic artist, eager to share her work with any and all who love the same fictional worlds that she does. Her bright personality is infectious and I found myself excited about her work and to get to know her as an artist. You can also get to know her further on Instagram and Facebook.
It was a joy and privilege to get a behind-the-scenes look at the art Kyleigh creates, I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
1. How did you get into photography? How long have you been a photographer?
I started to get into photography when I was a little, although never having a camera of my own it was difficult to pursue it to the fullest. A little over a year ago my husband gave me the push to get myself a nice camera after only using my phone camera. It opened a whole world of possibilities to me and allowed me to truly capture what I was envisioning in my head.
2. Do you consider yourself a collector? When did you start collecting figures and why?
I begin collecting between the ages of 10 and 13, although I didn’t start collecting nearly as much as I do now until around the time I turned 17. My older brother, whom I was closest to growing up, was big into Marvel action figures and played a huge part in my interest in collecting and all around geekdom ha ha. We would spend hours setting up little towns for our figures and recreating epic battle scenes. Definitely some of my fondest memories.
3. What made you combine these two interests?
I always had a love for making things that were fictional be a part of my everyday life. Through props I had made and collectable figures I had acquired over time I was able to take a piece of that world with me. Being able to capture a moment from a game, book, or movie through the lens of a camera was something very special to me. It allowed me to take that moment, freeze it, and recreate it with a childhood memory I had and make it real.
Videogames are what made my childhood truly magical. They inspired me artistically and influenced me greatly in my life. Nintendo in particular holds a very special place in my heart. Home to my favorite videogame series, The Legend of Zelda, and many other wonderful games and characters ive come to love.
5. Who are your favorite Nintendo characters? Favorite collectibles?
There are so many characters to love in the Nintendo world, but I would have to say my favorite Nintendo characters would most likely be Link, Samus, Luigi, and Mega Man. I do have a love for the Donkey Kong characters as well and I’m hoping to see more well crafted figures of them in the future.
6. Your photographs are stunning and high-quality. Whatfs the process for going out and taking these photos?
Typically I preplan the photos I’m going to take if possible, sometimes the ideas will come to me spur of the moment during a shoot. I try to take pictures every time the weather is clear, so nearly every other day.
I will usually select the figures, props, and whatever else I want to use with the shot and pack them up before venturing out into the forest by my home. I will then hike around until I find the perfect location that I feel would suit the scene I’m wanting to capture.
Setting up the figures can be very time consuming and extremely tricky. Some of the more elaborate shots ive set up have taken me nearly 2 hours. It’s always worth it though when you see the finished product and see the character come to life.
When it comes to editing and special effects everything is done through apps on my phone. I have actually never used Photoshop or any editing program on my computer. Although, I am wanting to acquire and learn how to use more powerful editing programs and tools in the near future.
Besides the videogames themselves and the intricate worlds they hold, a lot of my inspiration comes from the forest. I spent so much time in the woods when I was little. Every time I step into the woods I feel like I’m stepping into another world. Everything feels more alive and wild. Each little cubby, nook, or unturned leaf could hold a secret little world. Or in this case a perfect spot to set up a shot. This fueled my imagination and greatly influenced my photography style.
8. You have over 15,000 followers on Instagram. How does it feel to have so many people love your work?
I can honestly say I never in my wildest dreams thought so many people would love my photos. It has been such a joy to bring so many smiles to peoples faces. What started as a simple hobby, I feel, has turned into something so much more. This has started so many wonderful friendships with people and talented artists all over the world and has been a way to connect with people in such an awesome way. I’m truly humbled by the encouragement I have gotten from people. Getting to hear how my photography helped inspire them to pursue something in the gaming/geek world is absolutely amazing!
9. I noticed in your Link and Skulltula photo, the Skulltula was made. How often are things handmade in your photography? How does this process work for you?
A lot of the props, replicas, and miniatures in my photos are either made by me and my husband, or they are custom made by a crafter. Some of the miniatures I have found and purchased at flea markets and online as well. The Skulltula in particular is my favorite. My talented husband meticulously sculpted and painted it based off of a real human skull, making it look very life like and creepy. We had a lot of fun making it and are very excited to make more creatures from other games as well!
10. Can you share any particular favorite photos? How about stories?
I would have to say my favorite photos I have done are a toss up between Alduin from Skyrim, Link with his lantern getting ready to venture up to Snowpeak, and Toon Link with his leaf Umbrella.
11. Do you have any tips for photographers?
The two best pieces of advice I can give when it comes to photography is 1) lighting is everything and 2) simplicity and clarity in a photo is almost always the most captivating. Having special effects in a photo at times is never a bad thing by any means, but over editing can cause the main focus and emotion you are trying to capture in that photo to get lost which is never a good thing. Always remember to keep it simple!