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One of the wonderful joys of collecting dolls is the many creative outlets the hobby offers like:
- Sewing cute outfits
- Making adorable dioramas
- Customizing inspiring dolls and
- Capturing dolly moments with photography!
Digital photography is one of the skills I wanted to learn for so long, particularly when it came to photographing my dolls.
But I worried so much about taking photos. I had worries like:
- I don’t know much about aperture, shutter speed or ISO
- My camera isn’t the greatest
- How do I keep the doll standing up, she keeps falling over
- There’s no way my blah photos will ever be as good as XYZ’s and the
- worries went on and on
With all those worries in my head it was no wonder I had such low confidence & didn’t enjoy photography.
I was super tense, swimming in a sea of photography doubt.
So I decided a few years ago to squash these fear based worries and start building up my photography confidence.
My journey began by exploring how others approached digital photography and the techniques they used to capture stunning photos.
I got my hands on anything related to photography from books, magazines to online courses and more.
The following are a few simple photo tips, I’ve uncovered so far on my photography journey that have had a big impact on my photos as well as have helped me build my photography confidence & skills.
Let’s check them out!
1. Reduce Background Distractions
When I started taking photos of my dolls I slowly began to notice I was capturing more than just dolly moments.
There were objects in the background that were pulling my attention away from the star of the photo.
So I set out to learn how top photographers captured amazing moments while eliminating distracting backgrounds.
Professional photographer Scott Kelby says:
“Look for the absence of clutter and noise, watch for distracting elements that sneak into the top and sides of your frame, and create some photos that have great impact-not because of what they have but because of what they don’t have-lots of junk.”
So with this tip in mind, I make sure to take a look at all four corners of my camera’s frame before I click my shutter button.
If there’s anything in the background that could ruin the scene, I remove it or reduce it by adjusting my camera’s aperture settings or moving locations if possible.
This simple tip has helped me transform my dolly images.
Give if a try to see what impact a distraction-free zone will have on your images.
2. Tame the Unruly Hair
When I take photos of my doll, I want to capture her true beauty.
To do that I have to make sure she looks beautiful from head to toe.
From the neck down she looks good, check . . . but from the neck up, we have a problem.
This cutie looks like she just woke up with bedhead.
But is it really necessary to style the doll’s hair for each photo shoot?
Top photographer & editor of Fashion Doll Quarterly, Terri Gold, says:
“combing the doll’s hair and looking at it before pressing the shutter makes a world of difference.
Honestly, it drives me crazy when there are stray hairs going across the doll’s face here and there.
You won’t find that in a fashion magazine.“
The product I found that helped me tame my dolls hair with ease is Azone International’s Doll Oil Mist.
It’s the same product the profession doll photographer, Igarashi Momiji, uses when she’s photographing dolls.
She also uses Azone International’s Doll Styling Gel and UNO Super Hard Gel to keep the dolly hair styles in place.
Before implementing this tip, I didn’t care or pay much attention to dolly hair.
But now, I make it a habit to comb the doll’s hair before each photo shoot.
I’m not always able to get every strand under control but the attention that I do give to my doll’s hair has an amazing effect on the doll’s appearance as well as my photos.
If your doll is suffering from unruly hair like: flyaway strands, frizzy hair, and tangled tresses, this is an easy pro tip to try.
3. It’s Time to Strike a Pose
There are dolly photos that are cute and then there are dolly photos that leave you in awe.
After looking at several photos I began to see a pattern.
The photos that grab my attention and had a lot of likes and shares were the ones where the dolls looked like people.
FDQ Publisher Pat Henry says:
“Dolls are not real people, of course. But the most dynamic photographs of dolls are when they look like real people.“
This tip helped ignite the joy of photographing dolls for me. Since learning and applying this tip I’ve had tremendous fun posing my dolls in more lifelike poses.
During the Dolly Sewing Crush, I had a lot of fun posing Eight in his leggings.
I took many photos of him that it was hard deciding on which one to share.
It does take some work to get the dolly models to strike a human pose but it’s so worth it in the end.
Eight looks so handsome and lifelike.
Try posing your doll in lifelike positions to see how this tip shifts your images from alright to amazing.
4. Work the Angles
No matter what photography book, course or program I studied, there’s always a section on working the angles or capturing an interesting perspective.
Professional photographer Scott Kelby says
“What are the chances that you just happened to walk up on the perfect angle to shoot your subject? Pretty slim. But that’s what most people do-they walk up on a scene . . . and they start shooting.
It’s no big surprise that they wind up with the same shot everybody else got-the “walk up” shot.
View your subject from different angles, and chances are (in fact, it’s almost guaranteed) that you’ll find a more interesting perspective in just a minute or two.”
This was an interesting tip and I began to wonder if I could apply this pro advice to doll photography?
Well, the answer was, yes!
In fact, professional doll photographer, Momiji Igarashi, dedicated a whole section in her book, Photogenic Doll Photo Recipe to angles.
Momiji Igarashi took a photo of a doll at 9 different angles to show how the doll’s expression changed.
Since learning about this tip, I now take several shots of my dolls at different angles. It’s habit and part of my photography routine.
Though getting these different angles is not always easy for me. Because I get on my belly, squat low or stand on a small ladder.
It takes a slight toll on my body but when I see the shot I’m like “this body soreness was worth it!”
Give this pro tip a try to see how it can help keep your doll photos from looking “typical.”
Now onto the final dolly photo tip.
I think the last tip is the most important one of them all.
And it sounds so easy to do but I know from experience that it can also be the most challenging one.
5. Have Fun (Give Yourself Room to Experiment)
A typical photoshoot for me use to go like this, I click the shutter button on my camera thinking I’ve captured the perfect photo . . . only to discover it’s not beautiful at all.
It’s one of the most disappointing, hair pulling moments for me.
The feeling is even worst when I’m trying to learn a new technique.
The frustration & disappointment consume my photoshoot.
And the negative emotions quickly zaps my energy and I end up turning off the camera and walking away defeated.
“People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing.” – Dale Carnegie
As it turns out, every professional photographers feels dissatisfied with their image at one point while photographing.
The pro’s don’t allow those moments to stop them from taking photos, ever!
They simply continue to snap the shutter button, experimenting with each shot all the while having fun doing it.
Professional Photographer Glyn Deswis says:
“Photography is a whole lot of fun, and for those of us who never excelled at or were encouraged in art at school, now armed with a camera, some great software, and lots of practice, the sky really is the limit“
When I practice this pro tip, of having fun, the pressures of photo perfection are lifted.
That’s when the good things begin to happen like I:
- ended up with a lot photos I actually love
- improved my photography skills and
- developed a deeper appreciation for my doll collection
My main goal in learning digital photography is to capture outstanding dolly images. And I’m understanding the best way for me to do that is by experimenting & keeping things fun!
If you’ve ever experienced the feelings of disappointment or frustration while taking photos of your dolls, then give this pro tip a try.
Like me, you’ll begin to notice a wonderful difference in your photos and skills over time.
Wrapping It Up
In this dolly photography tips we’ve covered ways to:
- Remove/reduce background distractions
- Tame the unruly hair
- Pose the model
- Work the angles and
- Have fun
All the tips are simple to do and have had a big impact on my photos.
They’ve helped me to develop my skills, grown my confidence and transform my dolly photos from an average snapshots to interesting photos.
However I haven’t scratch the surface on creating stellar doll photos but I’m building a solid foundation for taking better doll images.
I hope to share more of my findings with you in the future.
Until then, do you have any tips on taking doll photos?
What books or programs do you recommend for learning digital photography?
Leave your tips in the comment box below.
Resources: The Digital Photography Book by Scott Kelby| FDQ: In Focus Digital Photography for the Doll Collector by Pat Henry with the editors of Fashion Doll Quarterly | Photogenic: Doll Photo Recipe | Photography Like a Thief by Glyn Dewis