After posting a fairly nondescript photo of my husband’s new Enfys Nest Funko Pop! on Instagram, I discovered the wonderful world of Pop! photography, courtesy of up-and-coming young artist Klaudia Sebastian.
So many of us have become obsessed with our collections of these irresistibly geeky figures, it’s only fitting that some creative and enterprising photogs would begin showcasing them to spectacular effect in clever or idyllic settings.
Judging by social media, Pop! photography is definitely a thing in the U.S., but Klaudia says it isn’t as popular in the small city she calls home in Poland. There, she’ll hop on her bike with her cell phone and a backpack full of Pops and put the gorgeous natural scenery that surrounds her to good use as a backdrop.
As Klaudia has discovered, Pops make ideal photographic subjects. Whether they be stars of Game of Thrones, “Jurassic Park”-era Jeff Goldblum, the cast of The Walking Dead, or popular video game characters, they never fidget or complain and the photographer maintains complete control over the shoot.
I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Klaudia about the pop culture scene in Poland (they have “The Last Jedi” haters, too), her childhood love of Star Wars, how her mom got her into Game of Thrones, her affection for “Walking Dead” villain Negan, and the six years she spent training in the sport of football (soccer).
As a bonus, she schooled me about legendary German industrial metal band Rammstein.
Your Instagram, @geekoza, features wonderful photos of Funko Pops posed in natural settings or against colorful and creative backdrops. How did you first get the idea to capture these images?
I started taking photos of my Pops when I heard about a competition which was organized by popvinyl.pl. In this competition you could win Pops figures. I decided to take part in this competition. Why not? I really got to like taking photos of Pops figures in different environments, everywhere I thought it would be nice.
What was the first Funko Pop photo you took?
The first Pops figure I took a photo of is C-3PO with red arm from “The Force Awakens.” I put him on a Christmas tree and then I took a photo by my mobile phone. I think that it looks nice.
Apparently, Funko Pop! photography is a big thing. I wasn’t aware of that! Do you interact with any other Pop photographers?
Taking photos of Pops figures isn’t a big deal for everybody. I think in Poland just a few people are interested in this. Moreover, I think that none are doing this in a professional way. And no, I don’t cooperate with anybody. I am trying to do better and better photos just by (and for) myself. It’s a hobby for me, a hobby which includes taking photos and collecting Pops figures.
Do you have a background or training in photography?
No, I’m self-taught. I’ve liked taking photos for ages. I was taking photos of everything, no matter if it was picturesque landscapes or normal mugs. Every photo I’ve made I took with my mobile phone. I don’t have any professional equipment but I hope that someday I will have that.
You’ve been a collector of Funko Pops since 2017. How many Pops do you have in your collection?
I bought my first Pops figure in November 2017 at Comic Con in Warsaw. It was a Negan (from “The Walking Dead”) figure. At the present moment, I have 33 figures in my collection. Maybe it is not a lot, but my collection is constantly growing.
What are some of your favorite or most prized Pops?
My favorite Pops figure is lying down Malcolm from “Jurassic Park.” The figure is different from others, it’s special. The most valuable Pops figures are Night King from Game of Thrones — limited edition from Summer Convention (2017) — and Luke Skywalker from Star Wars — limited edition from Galactic Convention (2017).
Where do you tend to get your Pops from?
Almost all of my Pops figures I bought on popvinyl.pl. Usually I get them one day after I bought them. Also, I am sure that all of my figures will be packed and delivered in a perfect way. A lot of figures I got from GameShop from Germany. In Poland there are few shops which have Funko figures.
Where do you keep your Funko Pops?
All my Pops are sorted out on the shelves in my room. I will be moving out soon so I am going to buy a special cabinet for them.
Tell me about the process of setting up a Funko Pop shot. Is it a lot of work or is it more of a fast, spontaneous thing?
Most of the photos I took very spontaneously. I usually take a bike and go ahead with a few Pops in my backpack. I have many beautiful places around my house. I had to prepare a little bit more to take the last photo of Malcolm. I had to prepare, e.g. accessories. Overall, almost all of my photos I took spontaneously.
A lot of your photos feature beautiful natural settings, which is kind of unexpected. Why do you like to shoot them outside?
I’ve always liked to photograph outside. The natural light looks really good in the pictures. And the Pops look great surrounded by plants.
Why photograph Pops, as opposed to something else? What do you like about it?
I think that taking photos of Pops figures is much easier than taking photos of humans or animals. This figure will not move. I can put it in an environment that I choose, in a pose that I want. Probably I like the most control of the situation. I decide what to do and anyone else can’t complain, haha.
You’re building a following for your Instagram. How have people on social media reacted to your photos?
People react really great! They added nice comments, left a lot of likes. It probably means that they like it, right? I want every geek to find something on my profile. It does not matter if he/she is a Star Wars fan or Games of Thrones fan.
You live in a small city in Poland. What is the pop culture scene like there? Are people as crazy about fandoms as they are in America?
I think that in Poland it is a different mindset than in the USA. Of course, in Poland you have a lot of fans of pop culture but you also have people who don’t like those fans of pop culture. Maybe I am wrong. I hope so. I am sooo happy that in Poland we have more and more events for geeks, eg. games fair, Comic Cons … we have progress here!
How did you become interested in fandoms and geek culture?
I think I liked superheroes from childhood. It’s been developing all the time, next movies, more comics, gadgets. I always watched all the movies with my parents and they probably instilled this love of geek culture in me.
A lot of your Pops are from the series Game of Thrones. How did you discover the show? What do you love about it?
A few years ago, my mom told me about this series. She said that everybody was talking about it and it probably is awesome. Something that has so many good opinions cannot be bad. I saw the first episode but I didn’t get the “awesome” of it. It was okay. After the second episode I got why this is such a super series and I started to love it. No regrets! In GoT, I like most the fact that we can’t be sure 100%. This series engrosses us. This is what I like about it.
Who’s your favorite GOT character?
Jaime Lannister. Definitely. The Lannister’s line appealed to me. I like villains. People sometimes take some things too seriously. I went to Warsaw to Comic Con last year. I met Jack Gleeson (Joffrey Baratheon) and I could talk with him for a minute. He said that some people threatened him just because he had a villain role. In real life he is very nice person!
Do you have to wait in Poland as long as we do in the U.S. for the final season?
Unfortunately, yes. We have to wait until 2019 to see the final season. Let’s hope that it is worth waiting and the last season will be amazing.
Star Wars is another fandom that pops up in your photos. I notice you’ve photographed Donald Glover’s Lando Calrissian a lot. Is he one of your favorites?
I think that Donald Glover played the best part in “Solo.” His Lando is really close to the original Calrissian (played by Billy Dee Williams). From the newest Disney movies, “Solo” is one of my favorites.
Tell me about your Star Wars memories. How did you first get into George Lucas’ galaxy far, far away?
I was a 6- or 7-year-old-girl. Every Saturday I used to watch Star Wars with my dad and his friend. Every single part, one by one. Sometimes we were watching a few movies without any break.
What’s your favorite Star Wars movie or story?
Maybe I am not original, but my favorite movie is Episode V, “The Empire Strikes Back.” I think that is the best George Lucas film if we are talking about plotline.
Are people in Poland as angry about “The Last Jedi” as they are in the U.S.?
Yes, many people think that Disney destroyed Star Wars. Some people are exaggerating. I think Disney made a mistake in making movies every year. This is too much and it is not healthy.
You often pose your Pops with books. I’m assuming you’re a bookworm. What are some of your favorites?
Maybe I would not call myself a bookworm but, yes, I like to read. The series about Geralt of Rivia (that inspired “The Witcher” video game) is my favorite. I really enjoy reading Andrzej Sapkowski’s books (author of “The Witcher” books). I think he is a master in his profession. Recently, one of my favorite books is Leopoldo Gout’s “Genius: The Game.”
There are also a lot of video game references in your photos. How long have you been gaming?
I started to play as a child. My first console was PlayStation 1. I seriously started playing in 2013 when the new console hit the stores — PlayStation 4. I do not do it professionally. I play in my spare time. I treat it as a hobby.
What games are you currently playing?
Nowadays, I’m playing “The Witcher” and “Call of Duty”. Sometimes I still have a chance to play FIFA and “Star Wars Battlefront II.”
You’re a fan of “The Walking Dead.” What do you enjoy most about that series?
I have been watching this series for several years. I love the characters in it. In early seasons, their roles were really well written. Now I am watching it more with sentiment and great love for Negan.
What’s your survival strategy for the zombie apocalypse?
I think the best option is to find a village with high walls to prevent zombies from getting inside. The weapons and supplies of food are also important. I think that the best chance of survival would be in a small group.
You like both Marvel and DC. Do you read the comics or watch the movies or both?
That’s true, I like Marvel and DC. But Marvel a little bit more. I read comics and watch movies and TV series. I really like superheroes.
I do not think I have a favorite comic of DC or Marvel. I read a lot of them and I like them all. However, my favorite comic is “The Walking Dead.” This comic book is the best in my opinion. And from movies, it’s probably “The Avengers.”
You’re also into Jurassic Park. Are you a fan of the original movies or the reboots or both?
This is a very similar situation to Star Wars. I like both but the original films were better, more fresh. Now it is only a repetition of one scheme.
Jeff Goldblum has been a favorite Pops photo subject for you. I have a feeling he would approve.
Definitely, the figurine versions of Jeff Goldblum are my favorites. He is a great actor! I’m very happy that he recently got his own Hollywood star. Better late than never!
You said that “music is basically my life” and you’re particularly obsessed with German heavy metal band Rammstein. Tell me more!
That’s true. Music is my life. I listen to music every time when I am able to do it. Actually Rammstein is not heavy metal. This band plays industrial metal. Actually, they created a new type of metal — Neue Deutsche Härte. I started to love this band when I was 8 years old. My dad was listening to Rammstein’s album “Rosenrot” then. To the present day, I’ve seen Rammstein live twice. It was a big experience for me. Now I am waiting for their new album and new tour.
You’re also a big fan of football (soccer). Have you been watching the World Cup?
Of course, I’m watching! Unfortunately, the two teams which are the closest to my heart have already managed to say goodbye to this tournament. Neither Germans nor Poles have been promoted. I think that now I will cheer on Mexico.
You’ve been training in the sport for six years. Tell me more about that.
I’ve been training in football for six years. Now I can’t play due to my ankle injury. The doctor said that I can’t play anymore. I have been playing only with boys because then I was the only girl playing. I have been a captain for some time! Maybe it was the best six years of my life and I regret that I cannot play football any more.
What’s the state of women’s football in Poland? What’s your experience been like as a woman in the sport?
In Poland, women’s football is in progress. There are more and more girls’ teams! I’m so happy about it. More men started to respect women who are playing this sport. I am lucky for being on a team who doesn’t care about my sex. Football is my favorite sport and always, when I am thinking about this sport, I have only good connotations.
Would you ever want to make a career out of photography or even Funko Pop! photography?
I’ve never thought about it seriously. At the moment this is my hobby. If I ever could make a career in photography, I would be really happy because taking photos is what I love to do!
Are there any rare or unusual Pops you’d like to add to your collection?
I think that one of the rare Pops figures I would like to add to my collection is the limited Indiana Jones from San Diego Comic-Con 2016. Of course, there are many Pops that I would like to have in my collection. But I think my collection will grow day by day.