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All is Not as it Seems in This Charming Vintage American Town

By Richard Jones on March 27th 2014


This beautiful image of Vintage Small Town America was taken by Michael Paul Smith, but everything is not what it seems. These are not old photographs of a past long lost and they not from the set of new historically accurate Hollywood Blockbuster, they are in fact, tiny model sets made in his garage.






vinatge-america-model-2Michael uses his extensive collection of die cast model cars along with incredibly intricate miniature sets to create a fictional town called Elgin Park. The sets are insanely detailed including shop signs accurate to the period, glints of sunshine and the natural weathering of storefronts. In someways the attention to detail is an art-form in itself, but it’s the images he creates which have attracted over 750,000 views on his Flickr page.

Michael has to get the right perspective for his pictures to work properly and even with years of experience, it’s still a process of trial and error. He spends about an hour on each shoot playing with set layout, taking shots and then re-positioning and each shot normally produces about 2 or 3 usable images.



All of the sets are photographed outdoors in natural light to help achieve the realistic effects he is after and he shoots on a 14-megapixel Canon SX280. And if you think that it’s a low resolution then let Michael explain

14 megapixels is almost too much for what I need to take convincing diorama shots. There is too much information being recorded which makes every little detail show up in the photographs, when working with miniatures, at least for myself, too much detail distracts from the total scene.


Mr. Smith has previously been a wallpaper hanger, illustrator, painter, museum display designer, advertising art director and amateur historian says the project only started because he wanted something to do with his collection of miniature cars. Now he is a Internet hit and producing inspiring photograph people love to see and all with a camera worth a couple of hundred quid, proving you don’t need the latest expensive equipment to produce awesome pictures. How cool is that ?

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See more of Michael Paul Smith’s images on his Flickr set by clicking here.

CREDITS: All photographs by Michael Paul Smith are copyrighted and have been used with permission for SLR Lounge. Do not copy, modify or re-post this article or images without express permission from SLR Lounge and the artist.

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Richard is based near Windsor in the UK and runs his wedding photography business, ‘Richard Jones Photography’ and online Photography Magazine, ‘Photography Cool’

He enjoys the countryside, his family and, of course, Photography.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Jacob Jexmark

    Great images!

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  2. Dave Kai Piper

    Totally love these images !! Makes me want to try and shoot something like it too ! I wonder how he does his lighting ?

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  3. Rick

    This is really slick! Really like how the real world is incorporated into the background. The work with perspective is outstanding.

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