Interview: Orchid Dolls

I like to experiment and try out new things regularly. Most of my pictures are taken indoors so I always try to get a very graphic, clean picture with a nice color palette.

When and why did you start collecting and photographing dolls?
A long time ago, there was a Spanish forum called Figuradictos (something like “figure-addicts”). I was very active there because I loved taking pictures of my figures and writing reviews. One day, a friend of mine uploaded some beautiful photos of her Dollfie Dream and I thought: “OMG THAT DOLL CAN REALLY POSE!”, and fell in love with them. Then I saved money for my very first doll for a year or so, and finally I got my first Dollfie Dream (DDS Millhiore) in April 2012.

It was at that time that I began to study photography in more depth, motivated by the infinite variety of stories that I could tell with a doll and a camera. I really love when they look alive in pictures, it is a kind of magic!

What about scale figures or Nendoroids? Do you also collect and photograph them?
Of course! At the moment I own 28 scale figures and 10 Nendoroids. Nendo photography is great fun and it is a world for itself, I especially enjoy watching other photographers’ work. Figure photography is challenging but a bit limited once you have tried working with dolls, haha (no offense, that is just my opinion! >u<).

What type of photos do you take? Is there a story behind them?
A little bit of everything, I like to experiment and try out new things regularly. Most of my pictures are taken indoors so I always try to get a very graphic, clean picture with a nice color palette.

As for the story, everything is based on my dolls’ characters. This is something I took over from the BJD world: back in 2012 I joined a doll group in my town, and everyone but me had BJDs. I had no experience with the doll world, and I was so excited when listening to their characters’ stories that I decided to do the same with mine.

Normally, I do not plan my photo shoots but they are always related to my dolls’ personalities. I mean, if Yuuko, my steampunk time traveller, hates pink, you will not see her wearing pink at all. That is just an example, but on the whole that is what I like to do.

Do you use a special photography or post-production technique?
I edit my pictures with Camera Raw and Photoshop. My workflow varies depending on the particular photo so I do not usually use any special technique. I simply adapt to the needs of each individual picture.
Is there an upcoming doll/figure project you are going to surprise us with?
Unfortunately not, my Doll Photography Book project has been postponed because I am not sure if it is the best way to share my work process, but I have recently opened an art print shop on Redbubble (orchiddolls.redbubble.com) for those who might be interested in acquiring a piece of my work at the moment.

What camera do you use to photograph figures?
The photos you see here were taken with my Canon 5D Mark III, with either my 50mm f/1.4 or my 24-70mm f/2.8 lens, but unfortunately I do not have it anymore.

Long story short, I lent my camera to my parents for a job and someone stole it. Not just my camera but also the van full of audiovisual equipment from my parents was stolen. Now I have only my little Fujifilm X-T10 (the one I use on my trips) and am currently looking for a new full-frame Canon to keep improving my photography skills.

What would you recommend to someone who is considering collecting and photographing dolls?
It does not matter which camera you use or what doll you have. Passion is your best tool, and that is what gives you pleasure in this hobby and leads you to improve naturally.

I would also recommend to start with basic equipment, to take it easy and practice a lot. Do not try to get the perfect shot immediately, go step by step and learn one thing after another. That way you will not get frustrated and you will enjoy the process.

What is your favourite anime and anime character?
It is too difficult to choose only one! But I would say Madoka from Puella Magi Madoka Magica because of all the different things she has made me feel, and Pino from Ergo Proxy. To me, she is one of the cutest characters, even though she is surrounded by a hostile world. In fact, Nebula is partially based on Pino, because they are both robots and they barely began to feel emotions.

A year has passed since Animefest 2019, where you were invited as an official guest to have a talk on doll photography. If you look back now, how did you enjoy the time during the event? What did you enjoy most and which was the most difficult part?
OMG, it was so special to me!!! I remember being really excited, happy and nervous at the same time! The best part was meeting Maul Cosplay. Just kidding, LOL (well, that part was pretty amazing, too xD), but of course, what I enjoyed most was being a part of this community and celebrating the passion we share. I met Figubo team in person for the first time, and also met many talented and amazing artists. Everyone there was so nice and happy… I felt really comfortable and free to express who I really am.

The most difficult part was obviously when I got stuck placing the little LED light during the talk, LOL. If you have seen the video you know what I mean. Basically, I spent about 10 minutes placing a LED between my doll and her laptop because the cable did not stay where I wanted it to. But I learned an important lesson: bring more Blu-Tack to future doll photography demonstrations.

Catalina’s talk at Animefest 2019

You can read full Catalina’s report from Animefest 2019 on her website.

What do you consider the most important doll/figure photography achievement you have ever accomplished?
Probably that talk at Animefest 2019. That was something I could have never ever imagined when I started taking photos in my room 10 years ago, with a cheap compact camera and some paper sheets as background. It is just incredible.

Also having my Nebula photo as the main visual for the Ldoll Festival 2018 makes me so proud and grateful, too.

What is your favorite doll or figure photo you have taken?
I know it is not perfect (in fact I would change a lot of things about it nowadays) but I would say Caught me red-handed!, the main photo for the Ldoll Festival 2018.

First, it is because Nebula is in the photo, haha. And second, because of the story behind it: with this photo I felt deeply connected to the Doll Community. I received great support and love and I am infinitely grateful for that! ♡

What about the times when you are not photographing, how do you enjoy spending your free time?
Video games, since I was a little girl!

I am currently playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons and it is addictive. Seriously, I sometimes feel guilty for not being productive enough with Doll Photography or other design projects, LOL. But it is OK, because relaxing your mind and doing different things is also good for creativity and motivation. Actually, video games and films inspired me to take many of my photos!

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