maandag 12 maart 2012

The living picture

The other day I was in the park, enjoying the nice weather of early spring and taking doll pictures. A little girl of about 10 years old came up to me and asked me what I was doing. When I explained that I was taking pictures of Japanese collectible dolls she looked at me like I was crazy and asked "What the hell I did that for". I kind of laughed it off and just said I liked doing it, but when I got home and was editing the pictures I started wondering what I was doing it for, apart from the general 'I like it and it's my hobby'.

The truth is that photography became my hobby only after I started collecting dolls. Not that I didn't like taking pictures before but I never really cared much about settings or camera's or composition until after I got into doll collecting. I saw all these wonderful pictures of pullips online and I wanted to show off my dolls too, because they're simply gorgeous and I wanted to share them with everyone else! However, as with many other new collectors, I found my own pictures lacking. They just weren't good enough, and not just because I was using an old camera or because I didn't know how to use light properly (still figuring that out now, btw).

The truth was, my dolls looked like dolls. I realized this when I was re-reading my old picfic the magic chronicles. Their poses were unnatural because I was forcing them into positions their plastic bodies simply couldn't make. I was posing my dolls in ways that were impossible for them to do naturally, so they looked fake, like dolls. Which is not what you want to achieve when you want a picture that's colourful and alive.

So I started doing things differently. Instead of forcing my dolls to stand in the way I wanted them to, I decided to go by what they can do naturally. How far can you push a doll and still make it look natural, alive instead of like a puppet? Of course, this depends on body type. What some bodies can pull off easily, others can't do at all. I'm really beginning to understand why people obitsu their dolls because it just makes them so much more poseable, but it's a fun challenge to see how you can make the stock bodies look natural as well.

And this is exactly why I like photographing dolls. It's a challenge to make such an unnatural plastic object blend in the environment and make it look like it's there out of it's own free will, like it's alive, like it has a story and a reason to be where it is. It's a creative process that goes beyond the picture; it's creating a story, creating a scene that looks natural, taking your limitations into consideration.

I'm not there yet, not by far. There's so much more I have to learn, both technical and inspirational. But I love learning and criticizing my own work. And through this, my love for photography is expanding beyond photographing dolls into other fields like animals and nature. I also really want to try taking pictures of other toys in different environments, out of the lightbox. It's an amazing learning curve and I'm happy with the progress I've made so far! It's fun to enjoy my collection like this, outside of just having them on display and generally looking pretty.

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