Photo Essay – Tavinder K. Ark



I’m a joyous 29-year-old nomad who has lived everywhere from a small town with one stop sign to a bustling metropolis of 1,000,000 people living within an inch of each other.  I recently wrote my first test in over five years – I’m now a poor student once again after working for many years. Although I think String Theory is the next best thing to fashion magazines, I’m skeptical about it.  If I could play Boggle all day, I probably would.  I love video games, especially the ones that you have to play in front of others while flailing your arms wildly, resulting in some funny pictures.  Figuring out what combination to eat different flavors of gummi bears is important (so far, the best combination is two red and one white gummi bears).  People ask me for help with computer problems, and I’m darned proud of it. I love hanging out in bookstores and checking out libraries.  I will always own a pair of Vans and have a packet of unopened Haribo Gummibärs in my refrigerator right next to my medium format and Polaroid film.  I have a bad habit of closing my eyes when taking pictures and hoping for the best when I open them.

My website:

Through the eyes of a half-an-inch-tall gummi bear

It started off with a packet of gummi bears, a Rubik’s cube and me in an office somewhere in Canada.  I was leaving a job I hated and had no more work to do, so I began playing with gummi bears at my desk.  I played with them as if they were Lego men, making all kinds of sounds effects a five- year-old would make.  I wanted my bosses to know this is how I was going to spend my remaining time at work.  I moved to New York City, and a friend introduced me to Haribo Gummibärs.  After that, I was hooked on working with these half-an-inch-tall bears.  My obsession grew into taking pictures of them in front of the famous landmarks in New York City.  I wanted to see if I could play with human perception by making the gummi bears appear as large as people in my photographs.

This led to my idea of taking pictures of gummi bears in front of the many famous landmarks around the world. So when I went to Europe, I took them with me. I always have an extra packet of gummi bears to share with the many people who stop, asking me what I’m doing.  For some reason, people get a kick out of it, and oftentimes they take a picture of me setting up the gummi bears.

There are four essential ingredients to taking pictures of gummi bears: a camera, the sun, five gummi bears and a friend. I use two types of cameras (SLR or a point-and-shoot) depending on what effect I’m trying to achieve.  The biggest challenge with photographing these half-an-inch-tall bears is fighting with depth of field.  It is difficult to take a close-up photograph of the gummi bears, almost being able to taste the gelatinous jelly on them, and keep the background in focus. Also, the natural sun is important, so I normally take gummi bear pictures on bright, sunny days.  Another essential ingredient is having a friend who can stop people from stepping on, kicking or even eating the gummi bears in mid-shot.  I cannot tell you the countless time I’ve lost my main models to a shoe or tooth attack!


Working with gummi bears is awesome.  They do not talk back, fight, or complain about standing for hours or being out in the hot sun.  They also seem to like my fingers, and I get to eat any defective gummi bears, so I never starve!  Through trial and error, Haribo Gummibärs are the best gummi bear models to use because they have the perfect stiffness for the essential up-right posture in my pictures, and they are more luminescent compared to the other brands out there. Plus, they are the original gummi bears.  Oh, and they are also yum-a-delicious. So suit up, put on your knee-high socks, rip open a packet of Haribo Gummibär and see life through the perspective of an inch.