Interview: Kinako

Each season has its unique scenery in Australia, which enables me to explore different themes. Personally, I prefer winter since I like taking photos in the snow, even though it is cold and slippery and there are fewer people at the beach, which gives me more space to take photos with water splashes.

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 bought my first doll on Facebook 4 years ago when I was still in high school – it is a second hand one. I have also been collecting Nendoroids and scale figures. I started collecting dolls when my friend, who is also a Nendoroid collector, introduced me to Dollfie Dream dolls – that is when I set off on my journey to doll photography.

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

To be honest, I do not do so much planning most of the time, unless I am travelling overseas or have a specific theme that I would like to try. When travelling overseas, I look up the rules to ensure I do not violate them. If I am planning a special theme, I search for the costumes I want and try to pose my doll at home. I want to produce photos that nicely combine my doll with the local scenery.

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

From what I know, doll photography is not a common hobby but with increasing popularity in Hong Kong, people that I met before, when I was shooting outdoors, were just curious about my doll. There are also shops that allow other doll collectors to shop for new clothes and take photos which opened recently.

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

I like to use the water element in my photos to create various effects such as splashes or reflections. I have experimented with different equipment, such as mini buckets and water guns, to create water splashes. I also search for water puddles to create a reflection of my doll.

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

My favourite doll photo is the first picture below, which I took in the Royal National Park in Sydney. I love the summer vibes with the combination of the sunset and the water splash. My most challenging one would definitely be the second photo below – I took it underwater, which I had planned and tested several times at home to ensure my doll would not be engulfed by the waves and would keep the desired pose in the sea. I also got a water-proof camera and went to the beach to ensure the seawater was clear enough for the photo shoot.

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

I am currently using a Canon 6D Mark II with an EF50mm f1.8 most of the time. Besides that, I sometimes use an EF 24-105 F4 when travelling overseas.

What would you recommend to someone who is considering starting to collect dolls and take photos of them? What camera and equipment would you recommend starting with?

I would recommend starting by purchasing a proper doll stand to prevent dolls from falling when taking photos of them outdoors. Also, finding a friend to help you is a great idea since photographing alone could be a bit difficult for people who are new to doll photography. I am not so familiar with other cameras, but if you enjoy shooting outdoors, I prefer getting a mirrorless camera as it is lighter. Most importantly, try searching for places that you would like to take your doll to, such as parks, which will be easier to start with and to build up your skills.

What is your favourite season for taking photos?

Each season has its unique scenery in Australia, which enables me to explore different themes. Personally, I prefer winter since I like taking photos in the snow, even though it is cold and slippery and there are fewer people at the beach, which gives me more space to take photos with water splashes.

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

Although I took up this hobby only 4 years ago, I have gained a lot of valuable experience which I did not expect in the first place. One of my important achievements would be being a part of Fibugo and getting to know a lot of talented photographers whom I had admired before I joined the community.

Another achievement would be winning an award in the Nendoroid #1000 Celebration Photo Contest in 2019. Furthermore, I was invited by a famous doll costume brand to take product photos in 2019, which is a very valuable experience. Participating in making several photo books and showing my works around the world are also achievements I had not expected.

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

One of my ongoing projects is to take my doll to different countries although this will take a very long time. Another project that I have been planning is to photoshoot a pre-wedding series for my doll with tailor-made wedding dresses. There are a lot of themes I would like to explore.

What other hobbies do you have besides photography?

Besides doll photography, I like making pastries and designing doll clothes.

What is your favourite anime and anime character?

My favourite anime is Inazuma Eleven aired in 2008, an anime about football and one of the main characters, Fubuki Shiro, is my favourite character.

© Figubo 2021