Interview: NaPnoKami

Despite the time and equipment limitation, I had to locate myself and the doll in the middle of the waterfall stream surrounded by slippery rocks to achieve the best light and scene…

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 started my doll collection in 2012 with BJDs and later turned to DDs in 2017. I used to collect Nendoroids but I do not do that anymore.

I did not have any knowledge of photography or cameras back in the beginning. My photo skills improved a lot in 2017 when I bought a second-hand mirrorless camera from a friend of mine and relied mostly on an old manual-focus lens for one or two years.

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

I do not see myself as a good planner, but instead an expert at improvising… (laughs)

Unless I have a studio session/meeting with friends, most of my photos are impromptu without prior plans. When I have free time and feel like taking photos, I do it immediately. Sometimes, I just use anything I can grab at that moment.

What do I try to achieve?

My photos must signify how beautiful and enchanting my dolls are and they must be able to express their characters’ personalities.

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

It seems there are more and more new collectors each year. There are at least two or three annual doll events and my friend Zodake’s shop, Dolly and Salmon, is where doll owners meet (if there is no Covid-19). Yet, I do not think this hobby will become nationwide because of several circumstances. One of the reasons is that most of doll collectors live in Bangkok and some in Chaing Mai – there are no large communities in smaller provinces yet. Another one is that threshold exempt from customs duty is very low (only 1500 THB or around 46 USD). Toys can be taxed easily, so collecting dolls is a very expensive hobby. And last but not least, Thailand’s hot, sunny and humid weather and bad transportation system really discourage people to go out and take doll photos.

Apart from my fellow Thai photographers here in Figubo, I do not have much information about doll photography in Thailand (I am too introverted), but I can see that there are nice doll photographers out there.

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

As most of my pictures are portraits, my main concerns are:

  • Choices of clothes;
  • Color/Tone balance;
  • Line of sight;
  • Posture;
  • Character/personality of the doll standing in front of my camera… If the doll belongs to someone else, I first ask the owner whether they agree with the result.

I am also very serious about the light setting. I normally use a natural light source (around 3-5 p.m.) but in case of night photography/lack of natural light, I use bounce flash.

For post-production, I only use Lightroom and Photoshop basic tools.

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

Sorry, but I cannot choose just one. All photos are special to me, each one in different ways.

Can I choose my favorite doll to photograph instead? It is Kiriko.

By the way, the most challenging one was taken at a waterfall in Chiang Mai province during a family trip. As it was a family trip, I had very limited time to get things done, and only had a camera and a reflector with me. Despite the time and equipment limitation, I had to locate myself and the doll in the middle of the waterfall stream surrounded by slippery rocks to achieve the best light and scene. Luckily, I have unknowdata_p to carry the reflector for me (thank you so much).

What is your favourite season for taking photos?

Regarding Thailand, it is winter because the weather is stable and not so humid there.

And speaking of Japan, I prefer autumn because I like the contrast between red and yellow.

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

Camera: Fuji XT-20 (default), Sony a7R2 (borrowed).
Lenses: For my Fuji XT-20: Fujinon XF 35mm f/1.4 R, NIKKOR S AUTO 50MM.F1.4 NON AI.

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?

It depends on your needs, therefore I do not think I can give proper recommendations suitable for everyone in just one interview. So… Dear all, you can send me a DM on Twitter or Facebook if you think you really need me as your consultant. I will try to answer your questions whenever I have free time.

Oh, and last but not least… This is very important:

Do not buy counterfeit dolls/doll items, nor plagiarize other people’s dolls. Please support and respect the original artists.

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

When people told me that they loved my doll. I was very thankful.

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

That I cannot tell… Considering the Covid-19 situation in my country, there might or might not be something. I am just looking forward to it.

What other hobbies do you have besides doll photography?

Listening to music – I am a music addict. Some of my photo concepts are song-related and two of my dolls are based on the personalities of my favorite artists.

What is your favourite anime and anime character?

Male Characters: Levi (Attack on Titan), Yuri Plisetsky (Yuri on Ice).
Female Characters: Kaiou Michiru (Sailor Moon), Asuna/Alice (SAO).

© Figubo 2024