Caesar Lima Gets Personal with Urban Toys

July 1, 2013

By Barbara Goldman

© Caesar Lima

 Hip-Hop street fashion Urban Toys.

Most everyone knows the award-winning photographer Caesar Lima for his conceptual beauty and fashion advertising, but there is another side to Lima. He is an “Urban Toy” collector. He loves those underground artists producing limited quantities of these  vinyl toys that are very popular as collectibles with design concepts created by artists from all over the world.  The Urban Toy scene was born in 1997 when designer Michael Lau showed up at a Hong Kong toy show with a handful of GI Joes he had customized into hip-hop street fashion figures. The Urban Toy scene exploded from there, and artists from Hong Kong and Japan began making their own limited toys.

Lima is known for his depicting unique and captivating subject matter. He loves to push the limits and evoke emotion through innovative and provocative photography and design.   His imagery is just outside of the box. 

He decided it was time to show his personal side by presenting the toys he loves in a new perspective for a self-promotional campaign to industry creatives, who have always known him for his highly conceptual beauty and fashion work.  “I believe when you show them something unique, something that you like you are showing also a little bit of you. I think showing your personal work is very interesting, you are adding another layer, it gets a little more personal,” says Lima.  He loves collectibles and to collect things and has a “Mac” museum at his studio with all the Macs he has ever used, plus all the other ones he never had. He even has a NeXt machine, created by Apple Co-founder Steve Jobs back in 1985.

The concept for  his Urban Toy project was to shoot the toys at a very low angle so that they almost appear  human. We begin to see them as bigger objects and pay more attention to the design and character of each toy. He made a mini portfolio of the toys and sent it to creative, along with his regular book as a “personal work” side kick.  “I got a lot of exposure with this series. I even won an award in Japan,” says Lima. Art directors just loved it and got to see Lima in a new light. 

  © Caesar Lima

As a result of  his “personal lab,” as he likes to refer to it, he is now using a lot more natural light in  his advertising beauty and fashion assignments. “The important thing is to be always shooting, I mean always —it’s like going to the gym, always testing something different,”  Lima explains. 

His personal lab has now taken him to new adventures and locales with a new street photography series called Calles of Spain.  Calles of Spain is his valentine to the country and street photography and being shot all in camera in black and white. No Photoshop and no flash.  Lima has been using the new portable Sony  RX-1 camera and loves it.  It is the smallest full-frame camera ever created.  As he says, it is the total opposite of what a studio photographer uses. “For me it was very cool being able to carry a full-frame camera everywhere I went. I was “loaded” all the time and working with only one lens — was fun and quite challenging” he says.  With his Calles project, the human form, which  has always been his main subject in his beauty and fashion work, became secondary but no less important. It exists in Calles in  the social activity and interaction of the subjects and even the architecture and objects  can evoke the human form.  

  © Caesar Lima

Lima has been so thrilled with the outcome of his street photography project and so impressed with how easy, fast and adaptable the Sony RX-1 is for this series that he has decided  take it on the road.  He plans to do Calles of Spain in other countries culminating with an exhibition. 

Look forward to more of Caesar Lima’s personal side. You might even bump into him while he’s capturing his next Calles of… You can see more of Lima’s advertising work and view his timeless street scenes at his site,