Bianca McKeown: Building a Brand Through Funko Pop Photography

Mar 14, 2018 | Detroit Designers

Professional photographer Bianca McKeown has been turning heads with her fun photographs of the popular Funko Pop vinyl doll brand. On any given day, a peruse through McKeown’s Instagram page highlights her ability to use custom backdrops and dramatic lighting to create dynamic images. Equipped with a keen eye for photography and a passion for her craft, McKeown is a multi-talented artist poised to make her mark in the creative world.

Early Exposure to Photography

McKeown’s first experience with photography came as a student of Cass Technical High School. Although McKeown admitted she wanted nothing to do with photography at one point, she explains how her love for the craft eventually developed. “I used to hate photography once upon a time,” McKeown laughs. “In high school my major was graphic design. One semester a photography course popped up in my curriculum and I did not want to take it. My interest started to peak when I discovered how an image was developed from the darkroom.”

(Photo: BMCK Photography)

McKeown practiced photography off and on from that point until she stopped pursuing a career in graphic design and decided to further her studies in photography by attending Harrington College of Design in Chicago, Illinois. “My instructors felt I had a natural talent, but on my end it was a struggle learning how to properly light and compose,” said McKeown. “But I got a grasp on it and eventually fell in love with it.” McKeown currently uses a Nikon D7000 as her primary camera.

Funko Pop Mania

Funko pop dolls are licensed pop culture vinyl dolls manufactured by the Funko company. For years the mini-figures have swept the nation and excited collectors along the way. With over 130 figures in her personal collection, McKeown saw an opportunity to sharpen her skills behind the lens. “In college I was known as a superb product photographer even though I wanted to be a fashion photographer,” said McKeown. “I started to focus on shooting products and thought maybe I should photograph my funko pops. It just took off from there.”

Cole from ‘Gears of War’. (Photo: BMCK Photography)

“The funkos are just so cute. It’s fun to do different scenes and set up a certain scenarios with these characters from different universes,” said McKeown. “As a kid I would pose my Bratz dolls. So this brought that inner child out of me and I’m able to do something productive with it. I’m still keeping my skills sharp and see that my techniques have gotten better over time. I love that people are enjoying my work.” McKeown’s top five funkos are Sora (Kingdom Hearts), Stitch (Disney’s Lilo and Stich), Beerus and Whis (Dragon Ball ), Perfect Cell (Dragon Ball ), and Vegeta (Dragon Ball ).

Okoye figurine from the ‘Black Panther’ movie. (Photo: BMCK Photography)

Hobbies and Crafts

When it comes to creativity, McKeown doesn’t stop at photography. She also crochets colorful “Dragon Shawls” which draw their inspiration from the scales of a dragon. Her collection includes custom pieces inspired by series such as Sailor Moon, Harry Potter, and Dragon Ball Z. “It’s time consuming, but really fun. I love it,” said McKeown. “ I think every artist needs more than one creative outlet. One that brings the money in, and another to mindlessly create just for the sake of creating.”

A Harry Potter themed crocheted scarf. (Photo: BMCK Photography)

A model wearing a colorful “Dragon Shawl”. (Photo: BMCK Photography)

Inspiration

When it comes to drawing inspiration, McKeown refers to the work of photography legends Irving Penn and Annie Leibovitz. “Irving Penn was my favorite photographer during my studies. I love black and white photography because it’s timeless and classic,” said McKeown. “I love that he not only captured fashion shots, but product and food as well. I have been seeing a lot more similarities in his work and mine. Annie Leibovitz is breathtaking and outstanding. She is definitely one of my favorites.”

An elegant black and white capture. (Photo: BMCK Photography)

 A striking jewelry product photo. (Photo: BMCK Photography)

 A model fixing her gaze on the camera. (Photo: BMCK Photography)

Future Plans

The next steps for McKeown include working with fellow Detroit artists and also starting her own YouTube channel. “I’m looking to collaborate with others and work on documentary pieces featuring fashion designers and other creative individuals working in their element,” said McKeown. “I think it’s interesting to see how something is done behind the scenes while the artist fills you in on their process. McKeown stated that her YouTube channel would focus primarily on photography and how she uses it with her Funko Pops. “The channel will also feature video games since I used to be a gamer. But I had to scale back due to my photography career,” McKeown laughed.

Want to see more work by Bianca McKeown? Check out her website here!

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