Deanna Hogan, Blue Heron Dolls

Photographing Your Dolls

Published over 1 year ago • 1 min read

Hello Reader,

Photographing dolls can be challenging. One reason is that a doll's "skin" reflects light differently than a human's.

There are three issues on which I focus when photographing dolls, and they're pretty straightforward:

1. Never use a flash. It just washes out the doll and
creates shadows.
2. Don't aim your lights directly toward the doll -
this will also wash out the doll and create
shadows. Aim the lights away from the doll and
reflect the light off the ceiling or walls.
3. I used to take my dolls outside on overcast days in
order to photograph them. On the rare sunny
day, the natural light was just too bright and
washed out the dolls. The rest of the time
(around here, anyway) ...rain, wind, etc. Not
ideal. If you do photograph outside or in natural
light, remember to keep the background plain.
4. Now I use 2 photo lights (very bright, hot, short
lifespan), with one fluorescent light above and
behind the doll for a backlight.

1. Shining your lights directly toward your doll will
increase shadows. Use reflected light.
2. Position your doll away from the back wall.
Placing it close to the background increases
3. Move your lights around until shadows are

1. I invested in a "seamless paper" photo
background in 2001. I found an online
photography store and bought a "vinyl varitone
graduated background." They come in a variety of
colors and sizes. My taupe background is 42 X 62
inches in size, and cost $45. Using a seamless
background eliminates the line where the back
wall and surface on which your doll stands meet. I
added the wooden half-rounds on each of the
short ends from which I can hang the
2. If you use a bedsheet or similar item for your
background, IRON it. You can see every little
wrinkle in the photo, which is distracting and
detracts from the doll.
3. Avoid clutter and unnecessary props. These just
take the focus away from the doll.

My seamless paper background has seen A LOT or wear over the years, so each time I photograph a doll I have to Photoshop (the cheap version, Adobe Photoshop Elements) out all the little scuffs and imperfections.

Now that my boys have moved out, I'm able use one of the bedrooms for photography. If the bed is needed for a grandchild, the seamless paper comes down easily, and is rolled up and stored in the cardboard tube it came in.

I am not a professional photographer (or even amatuer, for that matter), but this method works for me. Please drop me a line if you have any questions.


Deanna Hogan

Deanna Hogan, Blue Heron Dolls

Doll Artist and Teacher: Preserving the art of making dolls and Artist Member of the Original Doll Artist Council of America (ODACA).

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