Gloucester photographer overwhelmed by success of 'little people' street scenes

People have fallen in love with Steve's creations - like this one called "McDonald's home" Credit: Steve Rolfe

A Gloucester man has been bowled over by the success of his "little people" street scenes.

Steve Rolfe, 52, picked up his wife's camera "almost by accident" one day in 2010 and he has never looked back.

A civil servant at the time, Steve came across a book on street photography in Waterstones that Christmas and a love affair was born.

"It was pretty thought-provoking and I decided to have a go myself.

"At the time, I didn't have a camera so I borrowed my wife's 'bridge' camera - a kind of cross between a pocket digital camera and a proper DSLR one," Steve said.

"I don't think this is an Uber!" Credit: Steve Rolfe

He bought some model railway figures and started setting up "little people" street scenes, using litter and everyday objects as their playground.

Steve explained: "I used to leave the scenes for people to find, because I wanted to see their reaction."

Steve Rolfe has risen to fame with his 'little people' street scenes Credit: Steve Rolfe

Before moving on, he would snap each scene and share the photos on social media - and he quickly became an internet sensation.

Then - in 2014 - Steve took redundancy from his job at the tax office and took up photography.

"My wife is a self-employed interior designer and she gave me the nudge to trying working for myself.

"After nearly 20 years of sitting behind a desk, I decided to get out and do something creative," he said.

Litter-pick Credit: Steve Rolfe

Fast forward six years and Steve came across another book on photography - this time published by Trope.

"There was a little note at the back encouraging people to get in touch with their ideas.

"I emailed them a couple of my Little People pictures and in January 2021, they came back to me and said they wanted to do a book," he said.

Mars Credit: Steve Rolfe

After a six-week delay following Covid, Steve's book Small World is available to buy on Amazon and in Hatchard's bookstores.

Younger people seem to enjoy his creations, Steve explained.

"The initial uptake was much better than forecast and we had to change our printer to cope with the orders.

The Big Issue Credit: Steve Rolfe

"I’d say 90 per cent of my little people photos are purely for fun, but sometimes they can be though-provoking.

"I displayed my work at an exhibition a few weeks ago and the younger generation were really captivated by it," he said.

Steve now works as a professional photographer, but authoring a book was never something he expected.

He said: "I never thought I would have a book published, it’s every photographer’s dream and I struck gold.

"There is something special about having a book, it’s just incredible."