For those of you who don’t know her, Natsuki Doll has quite a large following on the internet (over 6500 fans on her facebook fanpage) and has a legion of fans especially from Asia and Europe. I have been in contact with her for a while now and we’ve discussed a few different ideas but due to scheduling conflicts was never able to agree on a concept and time until now.
Meanwhile, I’ve been interested in the exploration of “haikyos” or abandoned places for a while. A couple of months ago, I was scouting around for a shooting location and came across “Seika dormitory” a few stations from Ikebukuro on a Haikyo explorer’s website http://www.tomboy-urbex.com/ which is run by Haikyo enthusiast Ikumi. I’d like to thank her generosity for providing me with details of how to get to the location. Seika dormitory previously was home to students and some immigrant workers before it was burnt down in a fire. I thought that would be the perfect place to have a shoot with Natsuki Doll.
After agreeing on the location, we decided on a storyline and central theme (*Update: The series is titled “Black Rain”) The basic premise of the story centers around the female character (whether a ghost or a living being) who returns to this building to find a missing, loved one and in the glimmer of hope that she does find her loved one, would in turn ask for their hand in marriage. We tried to project feelings of sadness and longing throughout each of the photos. I found a few bridal gowns on the internet to make a selection from. A week prior to the shoot, I scouted the location and to be honest it was pretty spooky to go there alone. While on location, I walked up to the third floor and I was freaked out when a door suddenly creaked open and then a few seconds later, a book on the ground flipped its pages. I ran out of that place like a little girl though I was convinced it was the perfect place for our shoot. LOL
On the day of the shoot, Natsuki came down all the way from Nagoya so I really have to thank her for her passion and dedication to her art and having faith in me as a photographer. The morning started on a bit of a downer with pouring rain threatening to wreak havoc on our scheduled shoot. Rain is fine as cloudy days act as a natural diffuser but in the middle of winter, with Natsuki having to wear just a wedding gown made of such thin fabric I thought it would be extremely difficult to shoot for extended periods of time. Thankfully, even though it was pouring down and freezing, the dormitory was covered enough to block out the cold wind yet had plenty of windows and an open roof to allow natural ambient light through. As a result, I was quite happy with the balance of light and dark shades from the location.
Apart from choosing the location, wardrobe and discussing details of hair , styling and makeup, I usually don’t like to over-plan a shoot as to let the mood, emotions and chemistry between me and the model flow and take on its natural course. For this particular shoot, I did some story-boarding on paper to have at least a vision of angles and how I would like the story to play out. Always be flexible enough to allow for contingencies such as weather and other issues which may prop up.
It seemed as if on the day, all the stars in the Universe were aligned. The dress I bought on Rakuten (Japan’s online auction site) fit Natsuki perfectly and the rest of her wardrobe and her makeup was an unbelievable match! She’s so talented that she did all the makeup and hair herself which is much appreciated as I prefer working with smaller crews than large crews. I also found some awesome props on-site such as the rose she’s seen holding onto for most of the shoot as well as that awesome piano above.
The last scene required poor Natsuki to brave the pouring rain and get soaked. I was freezing just looking at her shiver after a few minutes. I hope all her fans appreciate her dedication and professionalism and I have much respect for her; it was certainly worth it! Unfortunately, we could only spend a few minutes on the rooftop and I wasn’t able to capture the scene I envisioned. Nevertheless, I was satisfied with the few shots we managed to get and for the final touch I added black tears in Natsuki’s crying portrait.
Overall, I would like to really thank Natsuki Doll for our shoot. I enjoyed her humor, her easy-going demeanor her politeness, eagerness and dedication. She was willing to give everything a try and assertive enough to voice her own suggestions. She follows directions verbatim and I could feel she delved deep into the character we both envisioned whilst we were shooting. She gave me space and silence to operate and vice versa so overall the chemistry was superb and would love to work together on another project in future.
Video interview: blog.ontoshiki.com/2012/03/13/video-interview-with…
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This entry was posted on Friday, March 9th, 2012 at 2:15 am. It is filed under All, Photoshoots and tagged with black tears, blackrain, blacktears, cry, crying, dark, digital, dormitory, exploration, fashion, haikyo, natsuki doll kishi, photoshoot, photoshoots, porcelain, seika, wedding. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
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