Interview: nono

I consider doll photography to be a tool for communication. I have been able to let other people involved with Figubo know about me by sharing my photos and I have been able to enjoy this hobby with other doll enthusiasts not only in Japan but also in other countries such as China and Korea…

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

I first bought a doll in 2011 and it was AZON’s 1/6 scale doll of Madoka, which I liked back then. I was not that interested in dolls at the time and I only started taking photos of them after buying a 1/3 scale (50 cm) doll by AZON in 2012.

The reason I started taking photos of dolls was seeing some nice photos that people took on Twitter and it made me interested in trying it out myself too. I was also able to make some friends through doll photography and that probably made me enjoy it even more. First, I bought some photobooks of dolls at Comiket and studied and practised by trying to imitate other people’s photos.

I take photos of Dollfie Dream by Volks. The reason I picked Dollfie Dream is that most of the doll clothes I like are for Dollfie Dream.

I have a lot of Madoka Magica figures. But I do not collect figures anymore, only dolls.

How do you plan the scenes and what kind of results do you try to achieve?

I think about locations that would go well with the clothes that I want to put on the dolls, and recently I have been paying attention to the balance between the scene and the dolls.

It is really important to collect information about the location in advance. I always look up a lot of things on Google.

I try to make it look as if I were travelling with the dolls. However, it is really difficult, and I still have a lot to learn.

How is collecting dolls and taking photos of them perceived as a hobby in Japan?

It is still a very niche field and there are not many people doing doll photography, so it is not very widely known.

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

I use Lightroom, Photoshop and some plugins, but no special techniques. I mostly learn from videos on YouTube.

What is the favourite doll photo you have ever taken and which was the most challenging one?

It is this photo. I always take photos alone, but when I took this one, my wife and my kid were with me and even though it was cloudy that day, we were able to see this scenery after waiting for 3 hours, so it is a very memorable photo for me.

The time when I went to see trees covered with frost. I did not do anything special as regards the technique, but it was cold. My hands were shaking at -15℃; it was very hard.

What is your favourite season for taking photos?

It is spring. Sakura trees are stunning, and I love them, so I look forward to going out to take photos every year.

However, I am still not very good at taking pictures.

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

I use a Canon 6D camera and EF16-35 F4L, EF24-70 F2.8LII, EF70-200 F2.8LII lenses. I want a new camera and lenses but I do not have the money for them (laughs).

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 starting with?

I think the best thing to do is to buy the camera and lens that you think you want. If you are going to shoot with a tripod, I recommend the ARCA-SWISS P0 Hybrid tripod head.

I believe that a few millimetres can make a big difference in the way the dolls look and what impression they give, so a head that allows fine adjustment is very useful.

What do you consider the most important doll photography achievement you have ever accomplished?

Connecting with people who share the same hobby with me through doll photography is the main reason why I have been doing it and I have been able to achieve that over the past eight years.

Thanks to doll photography, I have been meeting the people I want to, and that is why I am going to keep on doing it.

I consider doll photography to be a tool for communication. I have been able to let other people involved with Figubo know about me by sharing my photos and I have been able to enjoy this hobby with other doll enthusiasts not only in Japan but also in other countries such as China and Korea, so I am very happy.

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

Nothing in particular, but I am thinking about making a photobook.

What other hobbies do you have besides doll photography?

I like fashion and wearing nice clothes.

What is your favourite anime and anime character?

The whole Love Live! series. My favourite character is Ohara Mari. Love Live! always cheers me up.

© Figubo 2021