Interview: Vince454

There are not many people who know about toy photography, let alone Nendoroid photography in Malaysia. But I do meet people who stop and ask questions about what kind of toy is this when taking outdoor photos…

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

I started as a casual collector back in 2007, and my first Nendoroid was Haruhi Suzumiya. In the beginning, it never crossed my mind to do any toy photography, but then in 2013 I started browsing Instagram to find pictures of my next Nendoroid purchase and was amazed at the many great photos taken by other collectors. Eventually, I started liking these pictures and began following these toy photographers, and was inspired to start taking my own pictures. The rest, as they say, is history.

Regarding your last question – yes, I do collect some scale figures and also Dollfie/SmartDolls, but my main focus is, of course, on Nendoroids.

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

Most of my photos are inspired by the character’s anime and everyday life. Basically, I go with the Slice of Life theme. In my photos, I try to project and capture characters’ emotions, and if a viewer perceives my subjects as alive, then it is a success to me.

How is collecting Nendoroids and taking photos of them perceived as a hobby in Malaysia?

Nendoroids are generally expensive and hard to get here in Malaysia, so I usually preorder mine from online toy stores based in Japan. There are, however, some local toy stores that sell Nendoroids at reasonable prices, but then the choices are very limited, of course.

Generally speaking, there are not many people who know about toy photography, let alone Nendoroid photography in Malaysia. But I do meet people who stop and ask questions about what kind of toy is this when taking outdoor photos.

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

I always focus on faces when taking photos, because, in my opinion, that is the first thing people look at. Therefore, my priority is always to make the face clean and sharp. I also make sure nothing distracts the viewer from it. I also think that those who have been following my work would also realise that I really love to tilt my compositions.

Speaking of post-production techniques, I mostly use Photoshop and Lightroom. Again, the focus is on the face so I mainly enhance the brightness of the face and/or add some glowing effects to the eyes to make the characters look more alive. I also have a self-made custom filter that I sometimes use when I need a little bit more “feel” to the picture.

What kind of dioramas do you make? Does it require any special tools to make them?

Since my main theme is Slice of Life, my dioramas are usually locales of everyday scenes like a living room, a bedroom, a garden, or the street. I plan and make my dioramas from scratch using references from anime scenes and also their real-world counterparts. The diorama that I especially loved making is this Japanese room (see the picture below).

As for materials and tools, there is nothing special needed for making dioramas. I usually use wooden or foam boards for the base, and I work on them using a regular cutting knife and PVA glue. My advantage is that I enjoy woodworking so many of my miniatures and dioramas are made out of wood, which also lasts longer. My dioramas are not very big as they are scaled for the Nendoroids, and I also reuse them often as I feel that it is a waste to throw them away after one photography session. It is with this in mind that I design my dioramas in a way that they can be easily disassembled and packed away flat after use.

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

This is a tough one as I do not have a favourite, at least not yet. But if I had to pick one (or two!), then it would be these (see below):

The most challenging picture would be this Pillow Fight scene! It was difficult enough to keep the Nendoroids balanced and stable, but I also had to figure out a way to maintain Honoka in her upside-down position and ensure the pillow on her face would not fall off. On top of all this, I had to figure out a way to hide the stand as best as I could.

What is your favourite season for taking photos?

Malaysia is hot all year round, so I can only do my best to recreate the feelings from the different seasons in my pictures (shooting indoors). I wish I could shoot outdoors in an actual winter!

What cameras and lenses do you use to photograph Nendoroids?

I currently use a Fujifilm XT-1 with a 35mm lens. I hope to change to an XT-2 in the future when money permits.

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

If you are already collecting Nendoroids (or any other toy), why not? Toy photography can be an enjoyable pastime activity, and you can even pick up a skill. The key here is really to have fun; otherwise, it will just feel like a chore.

Furthermore, you do not need to have expensive and flashy equipment to start. Most of my pictures are taken with just a 35mm lens, using desk lamps and natural lighting (I rarely use flash because I am very bad at working with it). Natural lighting can be tricky to master, but if you get it right your photos will look great. If you do not have a camera, even your mobile phone can be a great tool since mobile phone camera technology is so good now.

I would, however, recommend investing in a good tripod.

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

I was proud to be part of the Goodsmile Company Nendoroid 1000 Celebration Exhibition which was held in Tokyo. It felt great to see my pictures lining up the subway wall!

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

I have some plans for dioramas, with a few already being in progress. Please wait for the reveal soon!

What other hobbies do you have besides Nendoroid photography?

I love making dioramas and miniature props to be used in my photos. I also enjoy sketching and painting and I am working hard to improve my skills in both!

What is your favourite anime and anime character?

My favourite anime is the Girls und Panzer series. I could rewatch it a thousand times and I would still enjoy it.

My favourite character would be Watanabe You from Love Live! Sunshine!!

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