The Borrowers’ meets ‘20,000 Leagues under the sea

Imagine the planet is flooded and humans live underwater, that’s the crazy concept I decided to create in my images with miniature people.


Once you have shot a few thousand images of nudibranchs and other common macro life it all tends to get a little boring. Underwater macro photography has become very repetitive and that is why there are lots of different techniques and gadgets to spice it up like snoots, external macro dioptres, bug-eye lenses etc.

I wanted to shoot something completely different and remembered seeing some miniature images online a couple of years ago by Christopher Boffoli. Boffoli uses the model train set characters and creates fantastic scenes that mimic everyday life mostly with food. I was recently browsing through a book shop in Singapore when I came across another example of miniature images by a photographer known as Slinkachu. Slinkachu was actually creating art installations by placing the model train set characters on the street in funny and interesting predicaments and shooting a set of images of them, then leaving the installations for people to see.


workers 2

All these images are amazing but used stationary subjects, none of them included anything living and I suddenly thought ‘what if you were to use creatures that don’t run away?’ The idea of placing miniature people amongst underwater macro creatures and creating a completely surreal scene entered my head and I couldn’t stop thinking of various options like mantis shrimps, scrorpionfish, snake eels etc. The only thing I needed were the model train set people.

Once I had the miniature people I planned various shots and headed out to the marine park opposite Kota Kinabalu, things didn’t go to plan and I suddenly realised it wouldn’t be that simple. I had to make some modifications to the little people to make them more negative underwater, I didn’t want to damage any marine life so had to be careful about where they were placed. Most of the miniatures are on the sand and have coins or small weights glued to the underside of their feet, sand is then gently brushed over to hide them.  The miniatures actually stand upright underwater and are neatrally buoyant, this worked with the little girl watering the Christmas tree worm but she would get blown away by the current every few minutes.
I managed to capture a few images I was happy with but then ideas for more scenes started to rush in and I suddenly realised I needed lots more miniatures, I searched the online shops for other model train set people and now have an entire collection waiting for their turn to feature in some surreal underwater scene.

uw invasion2

My images currently follow a theme, first there is the initial invasion of humans, then the creatures fighting back, next the idyllic scenario of people living and working side by side with the underwater creatures, like the workmen helping the shrimp and goby excavate their home. Then finally you have the people cleaning the polluted sea bed.
Most of the people at Scubazoo HQ think I have lost the plot! Will the images make money? Who cares, they’re lots of fun to create and certainly beat shooting another boring nudibranch!

Take a look at the all the photos from Jason’s miniature underwater world at Scubazoo’s online gallery.