Interview: Zodake

I always have to test the pose and setting at home the day before I go on a photo trip because I am sure that I will not have enough time to think about posing and setting in the location…

When and why did you start collecting dolls and taking photos of them? Can you tell us what the beginnings of Zodake looked like? What kind of dolls do you focus on? Do you also collect scale figures or Nendoroids?

7 Years ago in 2013, I accidentally joined a doll meeting. At that time I was just a student so I surely could not buy a doll. So I came home and told myself, “If they release Hatsune Miku Doll, I will be in danger”. And yes! They released Hatsune Miku DollfieDream in 2014. That is how my journey began. Now I have lots of Dolls because I love to create characters for them. Although it is really fun, my favourite Doll is still DollfieDream Hatsune Miku.

YES! Now I am also collecting scale figures and Nendoroids of Hatsune Miku too!

What kind of photos do you focus on? How do you plan the scenes and what kind of photos are you trying to achieve?

The first thing that I focus on in my work is the movement and posing of dolls. I think that doll photography is very different from figure photography because you have to adjust the pose of your doll yourself. The hardest part of doll photography is posing, I think, because you have to make them lively to tell a story in your photo.

If you want to get some outdoor doll photos you have to do some homework and make plans. How will they pose? How can they pose? How will they look on a camera? I always have to test the pose and setting at home the day before I go on a photo trip because I am sure that I will not have enough time to think about posing and setting in the location. Yes, sometimes I have to survey a location before I go to take photos because it is easier to think about posing and the composition of the picture.

If you want to get some outdoor doll photos you have to do some homework and make plans. How will they pose? How can they pose? How will they look on a camera?

I always have to test the pose and setting at home the day before I go on a photo trip because I am sure that I will not have enough time to think about posing and setting in the location. Yes, sometimes I have to survey a location before I go to take photos because it is easier to think about posing and the composition of the picture.

I noticed that you make dioramas for your dolls. When did you start making them? What equipment is essential to have to make them?

At first, I only tried to make 1:3 scale furniture for my doll photography by using wood and basic carpenter tools. I always look at everyday items. Some of them really match with the doll scale and sometimes you have to adapt them with your craft skill. For example, my doll size swing is made from a birdcage. Adapting everyday items to doll props is really fun and it does not cost too much!

You are the owner of Dolly&Salmon, could you tell us more about it?

Before I came back to Thailand, I had had a chance to study in Japan for 2 years. At that time I had loved to take outdoor photos very much. But when I came back to Thailand, I realized that it is very hard to get outdoor dolls photography here. So I had to do something!

Last Year, I opened my Volks Dollfie Dream Friend Shops in Thailand named Dolly&Salmon and I decided to open a doll photo studio there, too. I had a concept in which I wanted to make a place where Dollfie Dream owners in Thailand could have a place to enjoy their time with their dolls. So I wanted to do it! My goal was to create a place for the Dollfie Dream community in Thailand.

For Dollfie Dream Friend who love doll photography, I have created 6 stages with 6 different themes at my studio. If you have a chance to come to Thailand, please feel free to visit my studio!

Dollfie Dream Friend Shops

How has the community been enjoying your shop so far? Do you have any kind of feedback from them?

I have met lots of doll owners here. Not only Thai doll owners who came to my shop – I have also met many foreign doll owners here too. Every weekend I see they enjoy spending their time here. So I assume my customers are happy at my new precious place.

What about the interior? Did you plan everything yourself or did you have some help?

Regarding my shop interior and also exterior design, it was designed by a famous interior designer in Thailand. We had been planning how this building would look for a very long time. I love the loft-style that makes everything look cool and a combination with greenery.

Do you use any special photography or post-production technique?

To create movement in doll photography, 1 stand for doll is not enough. When I have to take a scenery shot of a doll photo, I have to carry at least 5 doll stands. For example, I have to use 1 stand to carry the body of a doll and other 2 stands to carry its hair so that I can create some flow and movement in the pictures by using the stands. Sure, you need to erase them in Photoshop in post-production. And, please, do not forget to take a picture of the background without your doll! It will be easier to erase the stand by merging them in Photoshop.

Is there any upcoming doll project you are going to surprise us with?

Yes, sure! Now I am planning to build a 1/3 Maid café diorama in my studio. But I have to go to research at the Maid café first!

What is the most favourite doll photo you have ever made?

This is a very hard question! But if I have to choose, I will pick one from the Senbonzakura Set – I really love all the photos. It took 5 days to find a good location to carry a 60-cm-tall doll to and to put it on a sakura tree and then take some doll photos. At first, I thought it would be really hard to find a place because during the sakura season in Japan there are people, especially tourists, everywhere. But it was possible in the end!

What cameras and lenses do you use to capture the dolls?

I use the camera Canon EOS M5. (But now I have a plan to move to EOS RP soon.) I have 2 lenses Sigma 35mm f1.4 A for doll portrait photography and Canon 11-22mm ef-m for scenic photography.

What would you recommend to someone who is considering to start collecting dolls and taking photos of them? What camera and equipment would you recommend to start with?

For many people, the hardest part of collecting dolls is deciding how to get your first doll! So choose wisely (LOL). In a doll hobby, you have to prepare and study many things, e.g. how to take care of them. They are very fragile and get dirty easily.

Regarding a camera and equipment, I cannot tell you which one is good or bad. It depends on your photo style and your budget. My first camera was a Canon 550D with a 50mm lens. It was not the best one but at least I could enjoy photo shooting with it!

What other hobbies do you have except doll photography?

Kidnapping dolls from other doll owners! (Just kidding). Speaking of other hobbies, I love to build Plamo too! Now I am really in love with Frame Arms Girl. This one is my custom Frame Arms Girl.

What is your favourite anime and anime character?

HATSUNE MIKU!

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