When Los Angeles-based writer and travel photographer Erin Sullivan found herself stuck inside due to COVID-19 lockdowns, she wanted to find a way to keep her imagination and creative practice alive. Using food and other objects she found around the house, she began creating miniature outdoor scenes featuring toy figurines. Aptly titled Our Great Indoors, her fantastic “nature photography” series allows her 150k+ Instagram followers to still share her love of neverending nature.
“When California started going into lockdown mid-March, I began thinking about how I could stay creative and connected to travel/the outdoors while I stayed home,” Sullivan tells My Modern Met. “I had the idea to create adventure scenes using household objects and ordered a handful of model train figures so that I would have a sense of scale in the images. I kept having ideas for new scenes, so I continued the series.”
The resourceful photographer’s first miniature scene—titled Pillow Ice Caves—comprises pillows, pillowcases, and a pair of tiny explorers in a canoe. Since then, Sullivan’s portfolio has expanded to feature all sorts of everyday objects, but her shots with food are particularly impressive. In one image, stacks of pancakes are repurposed as canyons, while trickling golden syrup looks like a river. In another photo, Sullivan created a broccoli forest from the green vegetable and placed a tiny hiker in the scene.
Each little landscape is planned out in advance and shot with clever lighting so that it looks just like the real outdoors. “I try to get very clear on the idea for a scene before I start to assemble it,” Sullivan reveals. “Once I have an idea and sketch it out, it can take me 10 minutes to an hour to set up a scene, then usually 30-60 minutes to photograph it. Sometimes things don't go the way I planned, so I just try to stay open to changes and to enjoy the experimentation part of the process.”
Scroll down for some of Sullivan’s photos from her Our Great Indoors series, and then follow her on Instagram for more.