Un Petit Monde: Little man on a big trip

Mr and Mrs Miniature in Monument Valley. | Photo: Kurt Moses
Mr and Mrs Miniature in Monument Valley. | Photo: Kurt Moses
From the model railway into the big world: US-American Kurt Moses takes photos of miniature figures at real locations. What looks simple is painstakingly detailed work.
Living in a box. Kurt’s equipment for his shots. The torches help to focus when little light is available and also serve as a scorpion detector. | Photo: Kurt Moses
Living in a box. Kurt’s equipment for his shots. The torches help to focus when little light is available and also serve as a scorpion detector. | Photo: Kurt Moses

Somehow, it is easy to quickly take to these people. Not because they are especially good looking or because they do especially great things. In the end, they are just people who enjoy life, follow their hobbies, or very ordinary people in everyday situations. But they convey a feeling which we know from being out in the big outdoors: how small we really are.

Kurt Moses generally links his pictures with a thought: “My goal is to initiate a storyline and capture an evocative photo that allows the viewers to draw their own conclusions about the scene they are observing,” says the 46-year old photographer from the US state of Minnesota.

A small world in the scale of 1:87

Kurt Moses has the right miniature toy figures for every scene. | Photo: Kurt Moses

This is the world in the scale of 1:87, known to every child as HO. When Kurt was little, he did not put the miniature figures in the model railway but created sceneries full of fantasy in the garden. Through his occupation as a graphic and web designer, he found his way to photography. In 2010, he founded the project “Un petit monde” (A small world) with his wife Edwige. The name was her idea, she was born in Paris. The core idea to take photos of miniature figures at real locations comes from Kurt. “At the beginning it was just something which enabled us to relax together and to explore the creative side of photography,” he says. “Today, it takes up about 75 percent of our time.” While the 32-year old Edwige is responsible for the organisation of a project, Kurt takes the photos. He also buys the miniature figures – which mainly come from the company of Preiser in Franken, Germany – and creates objects like model cars or mini tents to go with them. Sometimes, an idea will just come to mind and he will buy figures to suite; his mini society already counts 200 members. On other occasions he gets inspiration from a new figure and then looks for a fitting location.

Kurt could choose the easy way. But he does not want to

Bending down and close up. Kurt’s favourite camera does not have a rotating display. | Photo: Kurt Moses
Bending down and close up. Kurt’s favourite camera does not have a rotating display. | Photo: Kurt Moses

Edwige and Kurt find settings while walking through nature or cities. If the motif and light is right, Kurt takes the plastic boxes with miniature models out of his backpack, looks for suitable ones, puts glue on their feet and arranges the scene. It sounds easier than it is. “It can take up to an hour until I get the picture. Some arrangements are very elaborate, sometimes it gets destroyed again by wind or waves...” And then, there’s the constant bending and laying down: “I usually only take landscape photos, meaning: The camera and I have to go down on the ground because of the lack of a rotating display and angle finder.” A wide angle lens and depth of field create the typical look. 

Bildergalerie: Little man on a big trip

Kurt could choose the easy way and build dioramas at home, illuminate them perfectly and take photos of them. “I only shoot on real locations and with natural light. That is the challenge for me. And therefore the scenes will never be perfect – just like in real life.”

 
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