Behind the Shot: Small World

Behind the Shot: Small World

Steve Rolfe, Gloucester-based photographer, shines a light on the stories behind some of the most eccentric miniature images from his new book Small World for Trope’s Behind the Shot series. 

Mars Expedition 

Mars and what may or may not be on it has baffled and created so many conversations and possible expeditions over the years. I had been working on using the little people in chemical suits and just couldn't come up with an ideal scenario until the Mars Rover landed on Mars back in February 2021, and then it just clicked.  

Here in the UK, we have a chocolate bar called Mars, and coupled with the little people in chemical suits, I had come up with an idea. Trying to locate the right location was a difficult one as it needed to be on a quiet street and the backdrop fairly plain so that the figures and chocolate bar were clearly visible with no distractions.  

I decided to remove a part of the chocolate bar and some of the wrapping so that you can see the inside, and keeping the name visible was all important, otherwise the look wouldn't work. I had carried that chocolate bar with me for weeks trying to come up with the ideal location and it was only walking in my neighborhood that I found the right place.  

New Home

Homelessness is a big issue everywhere and cardboard boxes are always being used for people to live in. We eat McDonald's every now and again and my son sometimes has a Big Mac and the box has always intrigued me. A box is home for a burger - why not for a family? 

I always try to create my photo sets out on the street in the city, but we have an old garage and concrete drive down the side of our house that doubles up for an urban backdrop, a test location for me to try out scenarios. I was just about to put the Big Mac box out for recycling when an idea came to me - use it as a home for homeless. 

Placed strategically in front of the garage, I was then able to create the scenario which I decided on calling New Home. I went with the images that I had captured as I felt that I would struggle to recreate them better on location. 

The Big Issue

Cigarettes have always been discarded on pavements for as many years as I can remember and, despite the popularity of E-cigarettes, there is still an awful lot of cigarette ends left on the floor. For me as a photographer, I find the discarded cigarettes fascinating in a creative way, and that is how it lead me to create the Big Issue image. 

Here in the UK, we have a magazine called The Big Issue and it is centered around the homelessness issue and is a way for the homeless to make some money for themselves by selling the magazine on the streets.  

With The Big Issue in mind, it led me to combine a lady selling a magazine surrounded by forgotten cigarettes, where this is still a big issue around the traditional cigarette.                                                                                                                  

Gerkin Clean Up

I always remove my gerkins from a burger and I'm not the only one, as the majority of people that I know do the same. It baffles me as to why the burger companies still keep putting multiples of these green things onto our burgers when so many of us take them out before the first bite and they end up on the pavements of our towns and cities. 

I already had a litter picker man ready to go, just needed a scenario for him. For me it was the location that was difficult to find - and one that would suit the look. I needed to tie in the destination from where the gerkins had come to their final resting place. But it was also sourcing the right pavement texture so everything looked clear and the gerkins weren't lost. 

The location is within my neighborhood and using the backdrop of McDonald’s slightly out of focus allows the focal point to be on the little man. I had saved these gerkins until I found a location that I was happy with and they had been stored in the fridge for 3 weeks to keep them looking fairly fresh.  


Read more about Steve's work and Small World here.