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Tips & Tutorials >> All Tips & Tutorials

Tell a Tale with your Beloved Soft Toy: A Basic Guide to Getting Cute Nuidori Photos

“Nuidori”, i.e. photos of adorable stuffed toys, have been gaining popularity. The term itself stems from the Japanese words for stuffed toys (“nuigurumi”) and shooting photographs (“tori”), and one popular concept to use for such photos is to capture your soft toy as the main character in their very own story! Here, I will introduce some pointers on how to tell a tale with your adorable soft toys. (Photos by:  Takashi Akaogi, Edited by: Etica)


Point 1:  Bathe the toy in backlight for a photo right out of your fantasy world

FL: 50mm/ f/2.8/ 1/500 sec/ EV+2/ ISO 200
[Shooting Conditions] Shooting location (weather): Outdoor (sunny), Lighting condition (strength, direction): Strong light / backlight close to toplight

To create photos with a gentle and soft finish, I would recommend shooting in backlit conditions, which is when light is cast on the soft toy from behind. Many people tend to think that backlight is difficult to work with as it makes subjects appear dark in photos. However, you can use positive exposure compensation to capture images in which the contours of your subject are bathed in light. (Of course, the amount of positive compensation will depend on the light intensity.)


How to use exposure compensation

On a DSLR:


Turn the electronic dial while pressing the Exposure Compensation button. Turn to the right to increase the exposure, and to the left to decrease it.


The amount of compensation can be checked on the LCD screen and in the viewfinder display. 


On a mirrorless or compact camera:

1. Look for the following icon on your camera rear and press it:


2. Turn the Main Dial to change the exposure compensation value.


Point 2: Focus on the eyes and blur out the background to make your beloved soft toy pop

FL: 50mm/ f/1.8/ 1/50 sec/ EV+1/ ISO 200
[Shooting Conditions] Shooting location (weather): Indoor (sunny), Lighting condition (strength, direction): Soft light / oblique light

Blurring the areas outside the point of focus gives a softer depiction of the scene captured. Try focusing on the subject’s eyes to capture an even more impressive photo. To create a large bokeh effect, set a small f-number and get up close to the soft toy that is your main subject. You might also want to try out the following tip.


How to change the f-number

1. Turn the Main Dial

EOS M6 Mark II top view with Main Dial circled

Turn the Main Dial with your index finger to change the f-number. Turn the dial to the left to reduce the f-number and approach the maximum aperture. Turn the dial to the right to increase the f-number.


2. Check that the f-number has changed

Quick Control menu on DSLR

On rear LCD screen during OVF shooting on a DSLR

f-number display in Live View

During Live View/EVF shooting

The current f-number will appear as circled. Check that the f-number has changed before taking the picture.


Tip: Remember the factors that affect bokeh!

You can adjust the following factors to vary the bokeh effect in the background:

- Focal length of the lens
- f-number
Distance between the camera and soft toy
Distance between the soft toy and the background.

If you want to increase the bokeh effect or create a softer-looking ambience, try using a lens with a long focal length (standard to telephoto), setting a smaller f-number, reducing the distance between the camera and the soft toy, and increasing the distance between the soft toy and background.

Conversely, if you want a smaller bokeh effect and a sharper background, set a larger f-number, use a lens with a wider angle and shorter focal length, increase the distance between the camera and soft toy, and reduce the distance between the soft toy and background.

FL: 50mm/ f/1.8/ 1/640 sec/ EV+1.3/ ISO 200
For this shot, I increased the distance between the soft toy and background to create a bokeh effect in the background.




Etica Co., Ltd. not only run photography classes under the name “Tanoshii Camera School", but also edit publications and plan media and events related to cameras and photography, with a focus on themes related to child care, animals and food. Their motto is "Photos make people happy!" and they are engaged in communicating the charm of cameras and photography.


Takeshi Akaogi

Takeshi Akaogi

As a photographer, Akaogi works mainly for magazines and writes books introducing photography and practical tips. He also teaches at photography workshops.