Al images by Bebe Wang. Used with permission.
“I hope this work can evoke the audience’s childhood memories and dreams,” explains Bebe Wang. He adds, “I want people to remember those pure happy and harmonious moments.” For this series, Wang delved into his childhood. Reconnecting with an anime series that inspired and shaped so many children, Wang set to bring it to life. In this interview, he takes us behind the scenes of a world that means so much to him.
Editor’s Note: We love featuring photographers. Got a cool project? Maybe want to show us how you created an image with off-camera lighting? Here’s how to put your work in front of us.
Phoblographer: For those that don’t know: what is Doraemon, and what personally inspires you about the subject?
Bebe Wang: Doraemon is a fictional character in the Japanese manga and anime series created by Fujiko Fujio. This cartoon is a childhood memory of many grown-ups. Of course, I am one of them. The creative gadgets coming out of Doraemon’s pocket have brought me endless imagination. The story is full of positive energy, and it gives me a lot of inspiration to look at things positively and always remain curious about the future.
Phoblographer: How did you design the scene and set up?
Bebe Wang: Actually, it was my friend who had the idea first. I felt very excited after seeing some of his prototypes, but I do believe there is huge room for improvement.
I consulted a lot of original videos and pictures to verify the items in the room. And to find those related miniatures. Some unverifiable items required me to use my imagination and research some comic books on the bookshelf. They are the manga that I liked when I was a kid and some other manga works by Fujiko Fujio.
To have a more flexible view when shooting, I made the wall a detachable structure and used a modular design to present the scene better.
Phoblographer: What feelings did you have when photographing a subject that is linked so deeply with your childhood?
Bebe Wang: This was a wonderful experience. When I set up the scene, some childhood dreams and visions for the future came to my mind. I felt relieved when these memories are turned into reality through the toys, and captured by my camera.
Phoblographer: Talk to us about gear: what did you shoot with and what accessories did you use?
Bebe Wang: The camera I use is the Sony A7 III. The two lenses used in this work are Sony FE16-35mm F4 and Sigma 70mm F2.8 Macro. The wide-angle lens better presents the entire environment of the room, and the macro lens can capture more details.
In order to simulate the effect of sunlight indoors, the model was shot in a light softbox. Of course, a tripod and small rig arm are also essential. There is a photo of Doraemon floating that I created by doing a double exposure and post-retouching. Take two photos at the same angle. One is the background image, another one I used a rig arm to hold the toy.
Phoblographer: How did you approach editing these photographs? Please explain in detail what that process was like.
Bebe Wang: I did some basic processes, such as adjusting exposure, white balance, contrast, etc in raw format and some noise reduction processing. After that, I did some minor retouching in Photoshop to remove dust and some small imperfections. The final step is to do some color grading and crop the image. In this project, I enhanced the noise reduction to get a cleaner picture. That’s why many audiences think that is a CG work at first.
Phoblographer: What did you enjoy the most about making these images?
Bebe Wang: Actually, the most enjoyable part is the handcraft. You can fully control it and incorporate your own ideas to add a lot of easter eggs. In order to restore the scenes in the original comic, I went back to read many old comics. There are a lot of memes in it, just like Nobita, who often scores zero in the test, Doraemon, who is afraid of mice and how to use those magical props. These are all reflected in the photographs. But also some of my personal treatments are there. For example, Deadpool who broke the fourth wall and appeared from anywhere. Unexpected but reasonable!
Phoblographer: And what was the most challenging part?
Bebe Wang: I spent a lot of time collecting information and doing research. There are many details in the scene, and I don’t want to miss any of them – because I could miss a detail that the audience is looking for.
Phoblographer: Before you leave us, tell us more about you: Who is Bebe Wang, and what inspires him as an artist?
Bebe Wang: I am a creative, working in advertizing for the LEGO brand. I’m mainly responsible for establishing the brand in the Chinese market and doing some communication with consumers.
At the same time, I also participate in some product concepts and the development process. Because of my work, I will study many different animations, movies and toys. In my leisure time, I like to collect all kinds of different toys and make some interesting photos with them. I have to say that toys have become an important part of my life since I deal with them every day.
You can enjoy more work by Bebe Wang by visiting his Behance.