How Teddy Bears Helped One Grandmother Learn Photography

Moira West


When Joy Bobrink started doing photography, she really just wanted to be able to take good photographs of her grandchildren. But her grandchildren lived just far enough away that practicing with them every day just wasn’t possible. Instead, she came up with a novel way to learn to use her camera — photographing a teddy bear named Teddy B (and later a second bear named Roger) instead. Take a look at some of Teddy B’s holiday adventures in the video below, and then read on below to find out more.

Slideshow Video Style: Simplicity
Song: “At Christmas Time” by Tonic Vintage Vocals

It started with Joy just testing out a new lens. She took her first photo of Teddy B out on the lawn, riding a blue tricycle and posted on social media, just for fun. But the project grew from there. Joy shared, “Every day I would come home from work and I would put Teddy B into another prop or a costume or a different setting in my yard. I even took him around town and took pictures of him doing different things.” And Teddy B became her favorite model to practice on — he stays still, he takes direction easily, and he’s got a unique flat foot that helps him stay upright when Joy’s composing her shots.

In time, Joy added another bear, Roger, to help create more elaborate shots, and their photos together began to tell an ongoing story of their friendship. This summer, she kept up her photography project, sharing on Teddy B’s own Instagram account what he and Roger did on their summer vacation. “[Teddy B] went on a swing, he went skateboarding — all this was me learning how to shoot and gain confidence with light and posing (as much as you can pose a bear) and use the settings on my camera.”

At the end of the summer, Joy compiled their adventures into a sweet Animoto video to share with Teddy B and Roger’s fans. “People could have a video and have that accessible to them and maybe see images they hadn’t seen, and it gave me a little more experience with video.” The video plays like an adorable summer recap — ending with the first day of school, naturally.

Slideshow Video Style: Classic
Song: “Free Like a Bird” by Caspar Babypants

More than giving her some very sweet photos (and a photo award or two), Joy thinks her photo project with Teddy B “helped me grow as a photographer” and lets her photograph her grandchildren with confidence. This year for the holidays, she combined both her real grandchildren and her stuffed ones into one set of Christmas photos. “I’ve incorporated [the bears] into pictures with my grandchildren, which to me is wonderful. They’ll have those pictures to look back on, so that’s special for me — to combine the two.”

Joy shared Teddy B’s summer with us in the Animoto Video Storytellers Group. Join up and see what other magical videos our community can create (and share a video of your own, if you’d like!)