What kind of photos do you focus on? How do you plan the scenes and what kind of results are you trying to achieve?
The first and foremost thing I keep in mind when taking pictures is to make a doll not look like a doll. Of course, I know that they do look like dolls. But they are not collection items or decorations in a room, they resemble human beings more. I want to show that the doll is really there, alive.
To achieve this goal, I have to think about every single aspect of the photo. That includes choosing the right location, setting up the pose, flipping the hair and clothes, and retouching, which I will talk about later in detail. I also have to prepare the right composition or choose the right flowers so that the scale of it does not look off in comparison to the doll.
Since I do a lot of outdoor photography, I will use it as an example. First of all, I often find some inspiration or an illustration to give me an idea for the composition. It can be a simple idea such as “I want to shoot on a pedestrian bridge” or “I want to shoot on ice.” Then I use Google Maps Street View to get a feel of the scene, and then I think about posing and what accessories to use.
At the scene, the composition is likely to be slightly different from what you expected. Since I put the dolls on the ground, I usually place the camera close to the ground too. However, since the Street View is captured at the height of a standing person, it is different from the scenery seen from the ground. In addition, even if I take pictures of the dolls posing as I planned, they do not often go well with the background, so I have to adjust my ideas to some extent. Setting up takes a lot of time.
And then there is the wind that knocks over your dolls after you have spent a lot of time setting them up, or the sudden rain that makes them wet, or you want to take a sunset picture but the sun goes down too fast and you cannot keep up with the lighting set-up… Nature is both our ally and our enemy!
I often fail when I shoot outdoors. My success rate is about 60%. When I cannot get a good photo, I reflect on my shortcomings and try to use them in practice next time. I always think about the money wasted on transportation and the day lost (laughs), but I still love outdoor photography because you can make your work come alive with your ideas.
The last thing I do is retouch the photos on a computer so that I can get closer to my idea of how to make them look more like human beings.