Interview: Nekoko

It is great to get so many people to appreciate my dolls. But no matter what kind of subject I shoot, I think it is the sense of achievement that I can exceed my past self.

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 in 2011 when I first heard about Azone Doll of Kirisame Marisa from Touhou Project and discovered the Dollfie Dream series from Volks, which are in a larger scale and are more flexible, which led to the idea of taking pictures of them. There were not many clothes and hairstyles of doll at first, so I had to keep gathering them. My doll’s posture was also very unnatural when I just started.

I focus on Volks Dollfie dream. I might focus more on the 1:4 scale Bjd doll in the future. I have a wide variety of collections, including scale figures and Nendoroids.

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

There are two types of situations. One is having a new doll outfit that I like, and I will search for suitable accessories and places according to the style. The other case is finding a nice spot, for example a tourist attraction or a cafe that I like; in this situation, I will choose an outfit that suits the scene.

In either case, the idea is to think about letting the doll look as natural as a real person.

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

In the beginning, when I went to the park to take pictures of Nendoroid, because of curiosity and lack of understanding, I was misunderstood as a “toy seller.”

But with the popularity of SNS, people are starting to understand creativity, and more people are collecting and making their own dolls.

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

It is not a special technique – usually, I remove the stand and brighten the eyes later.

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

My favourite picture is always the next one (laughs). Each one is a special memory for me. They are all my treasures.

Probably the most challenging one was the one in Russia, where it was -20 degrees, and it was really hard to remain standing on the frozen lake and adjust the pose for the doll.

What is your favourite season for taking photos?

The climate is more pleasant in spring and autumn in Shanghai.

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

I switched to a full-frame SONY A7R3 just two years ago, but sometimes I still use the SONY RX100M6 for its portability.

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

At first, you have to buy a stand for the dolls to stand on.

There is no particular camera that we recommend so you can choose according to your budget and needs. Personally, I recommend choosing a camera with a zoom lens that is light and portable to try out at first. The most important thing is the love and passion for dolls, which is the motivation to keep going.

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

It is great to get so many people to appreciate my dolls. But no matter what kind of subject I shoot, I think it is the sense of achievement that I can exceed my past self.

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

I have recently started working on video production, and I might try more in this area in the future. I did have an idea for an “ambitious” doll photography project, but I put it on hold in recent years due to work changes. I will keep it secret for now.

What other hobbies do you have besides doll photography?

Playing games, reading, crafting, etc. I am alway making myself busy and have lots of hobbies. I might be travelling if there was no Covid-19.

What is your favourite anime and anime character?

There are so many of them (laughs). I recently watched Lycoris Recoil and liked it. In terms of the collection of characters, apart from the aforementioned Kirisame Marisa, I also have Sherly Nome from Macross Frontier and Melty from Heart of Light, from both of which have DD figures. I am also quite addicted to Zhongli from Genshin Impact.

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