Hi! My name is Crystel and I go by the name crystelanime on Instagram.

Tell us about your creative process

My inspiration comes from various places, sometimes an event or something that I found amusing, such as an anime I’ve recently watched or something I’ve seen such as a bookshop, supermarket or even doing household chores. Basically, I like recreating things that I’ve seen or done in my photography.

What I usually start with, especially if I’m too busy to do a photoshoot right away, is that I sketch my idea down, so as not to forget about it. Plus, it helps me visualise the idea better and it gets my thought process working more effectively in thinking what props or materials will best work, and then when my idea is fleshed out it’s time to turn that idea into a fully fledged photo. I would like to add though, that I use my sketch only as a guide. When setting up, it’s best to try and keep things fluid, as things don’t always go to plan, and sometimes you have to think outside of the box to make an idea work.

Indoor or outdoor photography and why?

When I first started out, when asked about this question I would of definitely said outdoor photography as back then I didn’t have many props and knew very little about lighting and its variables and in turn I had many failures. But those failures helped me learn from my mistakes. It’s the same with any hobby – it’s a matter of trying things and in time learning from the past.

These days as I have grown as a photographer and past photography shoots, I would definitely say I prefer indoor photography as I like having full control over my environment and lighting, plus I have all my props and tools to hand.

Where in the world do you live?

I live in the UK, which ties in nicely to the above question of indoor photography vs outdoor photography and which of the two do I prefer. Due to the fact the UK isn’t exactly known for its beautiful weather, it presents its own unique challenges.

Who or what are your greatest influences?

My greatest influences are my love of anime, which I fell in love with as a young child and have never wavered even into adulthood. And of course, the friend that introduced me to the world of figures and most importantly Nendoroids. Because of that one singular encounter I felt my creative side which I had long since thought I had left in the past once again spring back into life. My brain couldn’t stop thinking of all the possibilities of things I could do with these adorable figures and the photos I could take with them.

What are your essential tools?

My number one essential these days would have to be my Sony camera a6100 as I wouldn’t be without it these days, and of course my other purchase afterwards as my tripod. My tripod in particular for me was a game changer, as my hands aren’t the steadiest and I struggled holding my camera freehand and would often have to prop my camera on various items to hold it steady. Finally, my last essential are lights, they don’t have to be expensive. For example, I use a lot of fairy lights and still love my trusty bendy desk lights.

Audience and emotional connection

I would like my audience to enjoy my photography as much as I enjoyed setting and finally shooting the scene, once I have set it up to my liking. All of my photos have a little time bit of my life and what I was feeling at the time within them. They are like a little snapshot of a moment, be it happy or sad, or simply day to day tasks.

When setting up a scene I like to think about how the characters would react when placed in a scenario and it helps shape the scene. For example, the Konosuba gang, they are all characters with their own very distinct personalities, and I am very much a fan of their show, so I feel very emotionally connected to them.

Thinking about how they may react comes quite easily. In fact, I believe as long as you have an emotional connection to a character, be it they make you laugh with their antics or you feel nostalgic about them or are enchanted by their looks, these traits will help bring the character to life and make your photos hopefully more engaging, as the viewer can hopefully see the intent behind the photo.

Desert island toys, what are the 3 you would take and why?

Let’s see, this is a hard one to answer as I love all my figures for various reasons. But if I was forced to choose it would be Umaru-chan from the series Himotou, as I like the vast amount of accessories and faceplates that she comes with. She really is such a fun character and I love how expressive she can be.

My second choice would have to be a slightly older Nendoroid again, which would be super moveable Saber. She’s a complete pain sometimes with her joints popping off, but with that comes the fact that she is super poseable, and I am also very much in love with her angry chibi faceplate.

You put her into any situation (for example of the never ending dishes that need washing up and the more mundane aspects of every day chores) with that particular faceplate and its instantly quite funny. It also helps convey other emotions, such as frustration and anger, which with figures can be a harder emotion to express.

Lastly, not a Nendoroid this time, I would definitely take a Re-Ment set, as their tiny slice of life sets really help to set a scene and can be used in multiple situations and scenarios.

What would you share with someone starting out?

It’s not about what you have, it’s very much making use of the things that you have at your disposal, making the most of your environment and having fun with your creativity.

And I know this sounds very cheesy, but one of the most important things to remember is don’t be to harsh on yourself if things don’t turn out the ways you want them. As long as you’re having fun with the photos you take and what you are doing, your skills will gradually improve with time. In fact, you probably won’t even notice initially your gradual improvement, it’s only when you look back on your photos on say a years time, you will definitely see changes in both your style and skills.

What would you share with your younger self?

I would tell myself not to judge myself quite so harshly against other photographers, and that experience is built over time and it’s not a race. Enjoy the moment and the rest will come in time.

Thank you, Crystel, for sharing a little about yourself with our community. Please, check out more of Crystel’s work on her Instagram page.