Photographer Spotlite: Milkeye

Online Name: milkeye
Real Name: Corinne Skinner
How can people Contact you: rznvy@zvyxrlr.pbz'));
Flickr Account: milkeye land
Any other ways to get a hold of you or see your work: I am an admin on the Den of Angels forum; I can be contacted there and some of my work can also be seen in the gallery there. You can also follow me on Twitter at milk_eye, or on my Tumblr page

How long have you been into BJDs?
I purchased my first BJD in 2001.

Who/What got you started?
I had stumbled across photos of Koitsukihime’s art dolls and couldn’t believe how strongly I responded to her creations. I mean, pure amazement mixed with pure want. I hadn’t shown an interest in collecting dolls before that, but these ball-jointed dolls were so different to what we were used to in the West; so mysterious. Some time later I viewed several photos of Gothic Lolita girls posing with similar ball-jointed dolls, and discovered that the dolls were made by Volks. It took several months before one of the Volks dolls showed up on eBay (at the time one of the only methods of procuring one), and I was able to bring her home.

What inspires you?
Wow. What doesn’t? I find inspiration in the unlikliest of places. I am inspired by beauty, nature, history, whimsy, by creativity itself…I love seeing what other people do, what they come up with. Especially if it’s unusual or a different take on something. There are so many talented people out there.

How many dolls do you have?
At last count I think I was approaching the 50 number mark. Just silly.

What do you like best about the BJD scene?
The creativity it brings out in people.

What do you like best about the fandom?
The other collectors/interested spectators – and the sense of community they bring. I’ve become very close to some amazing individuals I would otherwise have never met.

How did you get involved in photography?
I got involved with photography when I entered the BJD community. As a means of sharing with other collectors, photos are often used. Through this sharing, I was able to improve and fine-tune my photography in general. Now I find that photography is a perfect means of visual communication for many interests, not just BJDs.

What inspires you most in photography?
The desire to capture a thought or mood in visual form, or to tell a story. I love photos that can achieve that. Effects, colors, subject matter – when the final product can use these and other tools to make life seem richer and magical – that’s what I find inspiring.

How did you break into shooting for magazines?
I was approached by Haute Doll magazine for a feature a few years ago, after posting photos online on both the Den of Angels forum and my own blog. It was just a small thing. The following year I was asked to do the cover and collection shoot for their Val Zeitler line. Since then, my photography has appeared in various publications. I love shooting for magazines.

How would you best describe your photography shooting style?
I suppose I would currently call it narrative portriature, though I’ve been experimenting more lately with abstract ideas. In the upcoming year you’ll be seeing some very different styles from me.

Have you ever experienced doll fandom first hand (i.e. been to any conventions, meet ups, etc)? If so, what are you impressions?
I’ve had the good fortune of visiting the Volks Mansion in California a couple of times for some events. It is always fantastic to meet other collectors and the companies behind the dolls. I only wish I could attend more conventions, primarily the collector-run conventions such as Dollectable. I hear it is an absolute blast. Time constraints sadly prevent me from attending local meet ups. And truthfully, I don’t do too well in crowds.

What has collecting BJDs done for you (like to change your life, enhance your life, new friends, new experiences etc.)
It has given me so many things. I’ve met wonderful friends I would have otherwise never known. It has also inadvertantly introduced me to other interests and hobbies, such as photography, crafting, and digital art. I’ve traveled to Japan, and met doll collectors in Europe. I doubt I would have been able to experience any of these things without first being introduced to BJDs.

What’s the most challenging photoshoot you’ve ever done?
Oh, tough call. There have been so many that had me madly ripping out my hair. I would say the most challenging was the Haute Doll Bootiful shoot, if only because I had a short time to get it completed, I was pregnant and hormonal, and I had put a lot of pressure on myself to get it just right. At the same time, it was the most rewarding shoot I’ve ever done. But I’ve had my share of instances where dolls will not pose, or will topple over taking everything with them. It wouldn’t be a proper shoot without that element of frustration.

Do you have a favorite doll? What makes it special?
Hmmm. I’m not sure I have a favorite to be honest. All of my dolls are each special to me in one way or the other. There is my very first BJD, Sophronia, a Volks Nono. Then there is the one-off Madoka I was fortunate enough to win, and the Volks Sasha that I never thought I would be able to bring home. Each of my dolls has a story of its own, a meaning. They are all my favorites, truthfully.

What doll or doll-related item did you have the most difficulty obtaining?
I won’t lie: I’ve had a few knock-down, drag-out auction battles. Some I win, some I lose. I’ve been collecting Violet Poem customizations over the years, and they have each been somewhat difficult to find. There is one of her girls in particular that I have lost out on several times and for which I still yearn. If I am lucky enough to ever bring her home, she will certainly win the “most difficult to obtain” award!

What are your favorite doll trends right now? Least favorite?
I admire those companies that desire to offer something different. I’ve really enjoyed seeing the monthly dolls put out by Soom for that reason. There are so many things that can be done with BJD. I also like to see some of the more “realistic” doll sculpts that have been popping up. My least favorite doll trend is band wagon-jumping. I’m speaking primarily of doll manufactures here. Those companies that produce trendy items for the sheer profit of them, rather than attempting to carve a niche of their own.

Do you fit your doll to the character or the character to the doll?
I always fit the character to the doll. I love dolls with obvious personality, and so it isn’t too difficult to have them inspire a character. When I had fewer dolls, it was easier to create an in-depth, multi-faceted character for each of them. Once my collection grew, however, yeah…not so much. It can get rather confusing.

How do your friends and family feel about your hobby?
My family find the hobby interesting. And my husband looks at it all with a sort-of bemused patience, I think. After a few years, my best friend finally succumbed to the hobby and is currently a happy collector herself. So I suppose I’ve been lucky; no one seems to dislike my involvement. They know it makes me happy.

Do you find yourself attracted to any certain type of doll?
Personally, I like a particular sort of female and a particular sort of male doll. So really, I’m not attracted to a particular mold, per say. Just a particular asthetic. The asthetic is difficult to describe; perhaps it shows through in my photos.

What kind of reaction would you like people to have from your dolls/ photos, etc?
All reactions are good, to my mind. At least then the work instills something, be it a joyful or uncomfortable feeling or thought. Ideally, I’d like my dolls and photos to inspire a sense of wonder and curiosity. Perhaps introduce others to BJDs who might never have known about them.

Part II will come a little later. We promise. 😉

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