Behind the scenes of doll photography

Today I spent the whole morning taking photographs for my Etsy shop (but not only!). That brought to my mind a thought of giving a glimpse into my photographing process. That is, taking you behind the scenes…

First, there are a couple of fresh photos from today’s photo session.



As you can see, I use two photo lights (they came as part of this kit), a background stand and a roll of white seamless background paper. The reason why I chose these lights is that they can be folded which is important for a portable studio at home. I wasn’t able to use the 500W bulbs that came with the kit – the moment I turned them on, they burned and tripped the circuit breaker. So I put in standard bulbs, which I later changed for 110W white energy saving ones, and while they don’t give as much light as I need, it’s the best I could have and they work fine.

But I haven’t always used the studio equipment. There was a time, about 2-3 years ago when I took photographs on a patio – first, just as it is (which I am not happy about anymore but those photos still can be seen at the very beginning of this blog), and later I bought some backgrounds and invented a system of mounting them outside on a large wooden board. That worked fine for a long time. It had the advantage of shooting outdoors which is always good. The only downside was that I couldn’t take photos if it was wet (raining) or too sunny (luckily, the shade on the patio was always in the morning, precisely when I had time for photography). And it was generally too exhausting because of having to be outside in the tropical heat for a few hours (and I simply can’t stand the tropics!).


The photo that came out of this:

IMG_8646Another working moment:


And the photo with the background.

IMG_8626Girls waiting for their turn.




But then we moved house and although we now have a small garden, it doesn’t have the advantage of a wooden floor that the patio had. And I had to move inside, so I decided to fulfill my dream and bought the photographic equipment. I particularly like the background holder which turned out to be small enough to use even for small doll backgrounds.



And, of course, it can be used for larger ones.



I also had a go at trying to use white background. I didn’t immediately succeed, because I used ordinary bulbs and they caused problems with white balance.



Finally, what I use now. The white energy saving bulbs and white background paper.



But I do have a feeling it’s time to buy a wider white background! I seriously have trouble with fitting groups of dolls within the white frame!!!



And you wouldn’t believe how many foot prints dolls leave on white paper!!

Oh yes, and the camera I use is Canon EOS 7D with the 24-105 mm lens.


A bonus photo from today. A bunch of happy girls.


16 thoughts on “Behind the scenes of doll photography

  1. Олечка, с каким удовольствием я это всё прочитала и посмотрела, так здорово!!! Обожаю твои фото рабочих моментов, особенно на веранде: девчонки как живые стоят и ждут своей очереди!!!

    1. Леночка, спасибо большое! Да, на веранде у нас весело тогда было. Мы же еще и с Юлей вместе там фотосессиями занимались, одной там с ума сойти можно было. Юля переодевала, прически делала и иногда работала тенью (солнце загораживала), а я фотографировала. Говорю же, весело было.

  2. Оля, спасибо огромное за публикацию! Просто мечта. Всегда думала, как же делаются эти прекрасные снимки?
    А тут все так наглядно показали.
    И Рози – фантастична в этом парике!

    1. Света, спасибо огромное! Надо будет еще, пожалуй, показать, как я фотографирую на улице. Там я использую отражатель. Совершенно другая история.
      А в Рози я после той фотосессии сама влюбилась так, что передумала продавать. Позавчера она уехала к Юле-Ариадне на переделку мейка (она ее рисовала с мыслью о продаже, под азиатский вкус, с розовыми тенями, я хочу теперь такую же нежную, но без розового). И да, Рози будет только в этом парике, я в другом ее даже не представляю.

  3. Процесс фотографирования захватывает не меньше, чем сами фото 🙂
    Оля, а если для групповых фото под ноги что- нибудь белое постелить или просто светлое, а фон повернуть?

    1. Марина, спасибо! Я сама люблю у других разглядывать фотографии рабочих процессов. Очень увлекательно.

      Белый фон никак не повернуть, тогда он низкий слишком будет. И вообще он очень плотный и прямо висеть не будет. Чего уж там, придется нормальный большой фон искать. Жалко, что они не вечные. Говорю же, этот фон куклы истоптали уже жутко!

    1. Chris, thank you so much! I really appreciate it. I love this studio set, even though it usually takes quite some time to set up (and later tidy up) and therefore I don’t take photos of just one doll / outfit. I have to wait for at least a few to make it worthwhile. If I desperately want to take photos of a particular outfit I simply go out and take pictures outside the front door, with a reflector in my other hand (if I can’t find a second person to help me hold it!).

  4. It was lovely to get an insight into how you take your photos and set up your shots, I really enjoyed seening this post. I have to admit that I particularly liked your photos of the outside photos on your terrace, but I know that with a garden there is a lot of work involved with photographing dolls outside and they can be a bit hit and miss. My problem is usually too much sunlight (not that I’m complaining for myself, I love the sunlight!) but it can make photos either too bright or too shaded, depending on the angle and time of day. I do like your photograph backdrops though, I keep meaning to invest in some of those….I particularly like the one you’ve used with the 18 inch girls with the wall of a house in the background.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Hugs Sharon in Spain x

    1. Sharon, thank you so much! I am glad you like it. I totally agree that taking photos of dolls in the open air / garden is tricky and is not always pleasing. When I take photos outdoors I always make sure it is in the shade, but not too shady because dolls loose sparkles in their eyes in the shade. Here I always take outdoor pictures at 8 am when the sun is not quite up yet (in Singapore the sun always rises at 7am and sets at 7pm) and the shade in the place I like for photographing is very light. In addition I use a small reflector to bring light to dolls’ eyes (I should really do another article on that!). Later that place becomes too sunny and totally unsuitable for photography. By the way, I find I don’t like most photographs I take while travelling because I cannot control the lighting conditions (it’s either too bright or too shady).
      That background with a wall is one of my favourite, too!

  5. Закулисная часть фотосессий выглядит не менее впечатляюще, чем конечный результат)))Оборудование такое солидное и обстоятельное.
    Приятно видеть кадры с тоннерами)))Особенно с королевским семейством

    1. Лара, спасибо! Очень рада, что тебе понравилось! А тоннеров да, надо почаще показывать. Я-то их вижу каждый день, они у меня все на виду стоят, но что-то на них шить или просто фотографировать их руки просто не доходят сейчас (даже на БЖД некогда, шью на заказ на кукол-детей).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.