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Why do doll owners photograph their dolls?

Sep 24, 2010

    1. I am new to the hobby, and currently saving for my first doll. I have known about BJDs for years now. I mostly saw them on Deviantart and whenever I would see a photograph of a dolly in emo clothes being angsty I would just roll my eyes and ask "How is this even art???"

      Recently after I joined this forum I see that photography and character creation and photostories are a huge deal in the BJD community. While I don't roll my eyes at dolly photos anymore because some of them are truly very artistic and beautiful I still don't quite see the point of taking pictures of BJDs as a hobby in itself. So here are my questions:

      Why do you photograph your dolls and make photostories?

      Do you just simply enjoy your doll and play with her without photographing her in a story?

      Why do so many people in the BJD community use Doll Photography as a hobby in itself? (not owning BJDs as a hobby, but the hobby of photographing the BJDs)

      What do you do with these photos that you take? Do you sell them like a print? Do you have them for personal enjoyment? Why?

      Thank you so much everyone! I know that many of you will say "I take pictures of my doll because they are simply beautiful and I enjoy it" What I want to know is how the hobby of photographing dolls has become a standard and expectation in the BJD world. :D
       
    2. Why do you photograph your dolls and make photostories?
      Photographing my dolls is a big part of the hobby for me. Photographing them helps my photography skills grow because I can work on certain aspects like lighting, composition, color, or just general use of my camera without having to hear a real human complain through the process. You can sit there an take legitimately hundreds of frames with just minor readjustments without a single complaint... or feeling like you are wasting the persons time. That way when you go to photograph a living human, you already have the skills and can "get the job done" without too much trouble. Shooting for photostories is also fun and much easier, for me, than writing a full length story. I'm more of an illustrator at heart.

      Do you just simply enjoy your doll and play with her without photographing her in a story?
      Of course! If I'm not photographing them, I might sit and craft for them or redress them. Even if I'm not "playing" with them, I enjoy having them within sight because just looking at them makes me smile. They're so cute!

      Why do so many people in the BJD community use Doll Photography as a hobby in itself? (not owning BJDs as a hobby, but the hobby of photographing the BJDs)
      Well, I can't speak for everyone else, but not everyone experiences the "doll hobby" the same way. Some people use their dolls to sew or craft because that's what they love. Others use them as vessels for characters they've created and write stories or photostories about them because that's what they love. Others use them as little models for art or to help them learn proportions and form better...because that's what they love. Others, still, keep them just because they appreciate the beauty and craftsmanship and enjoy them by displaying them in their home. And some of us are just big kids and love toys. It goes on and on. It's all based of what your passions are.

      Not everyone photographs their dolls "seriously" but just about everyone photographs them because of how much they love or appreciate them. We enjoy them and want others to share in our joy, love and excitement too. ...Just like everything in life.

      What do you do with these photos that you take? Do you sell them like a print? Do you have them for personal enjoyment? Why?

      I post them for others to enjoy! The social connections throughout this board are enhanced by the sharing of our photos and personal joy we have with our own dolls. They also help to inspire others. I don't know how many times a photo of someone else's doll inspired me to go try a certain technique or setting with my own dolls... or even other subjects! As I'm sure others share in MY joy...I share in theirs. Cute photos bring a smile to my face despite who's doll is in them. :) Then aside from the social aspect... I enjoy them personally as well, of course. I wouldn't take them if I didn't!
       
    3. I believe a whole essay could be written on the subject, but I'll try to keep as concise as possible.

      Why do you photograph your dolls and make photostories?
      1. I want to share the joy I feel when I look at my dolls.
      2. I want to create an artistic product.
      3. I want to record my creativity and skill, and gauge the public's reaction to my work.

      Do you just simply enjoy your doll and play with her without photographing her in a story?
      I've been a visual artist since a very early age, also, I've always been writing stories, coming up with characters. When I was a kid, I drew illustrations to my stories, now I dress, pose and photograph dolls. This IS how I play with dolls.

      Why do so many people in the BJD community use Doll Photography as a hobby in itself? (not owning BJDs as a hobby, but the hobby of photographing the BJDs)
      Proliferation of affordable digital photographic technology has made it possible for the wide public to enjoy photography on a level previously only available to professionals. While truly outstanding photographers are still rare, there are certainly more people taking very good pictures now than in the days of film and dark room. Dolls, being human-like yet stationary, are natural models.

      What do you do with these photos that you take? Do you sell them like a print? Do you have them for personal enjoyment? Why?
      I store them on my hard drive, publish a few online, keep the best on my iPod to show people and look at when I feel like looking at something pretty.

      I hope this helps your curiosity, and am looking forward to reading what others have to say! :)
       
    4. The whole reason I got into BJDs was for the photography aspect. I was into photography for a long time and had a lot of chances to get some really lovely photos when I lived in the country, but when we moved to a little sleepy town of 1,000 people with nothing to do and no more friends close by to take pictures of, I found myself with less opportunities to do anything with photography at all. Then an online friend of mine who was also a photographer introduced me to BJDs, I was enchanted with how you could have your own little model in a sense. One that could just take up a small amount of space too, no need to worry about if anyone's schedule was free to model or where we'd go or bad hair days, etc.

      For me, owning BJDs, photographing BJDs and sewing for BJDs are all over-lapping hobbies of mine. I enjoy photographing my dolls just as much as owning or sewing for them. As for why I take/keep the pictures, it's for pure creativity and memory value. When I am 45 years old I doubt I will still have these dolls, but I can look back at the pictures and think, "My goodness, it looks like I had a lot of fun with those dolls when I was a youth. Yes, that was a fun time in my life. What precious memories.", I take pictures of my pets, friends, family and sceneries for this same reason. Life is ever-changing, where you were at one point in your life and how you felt will change, I'd like to hopefully have something to remind me of that later in life.

      In short, I take pictures of everything. But I keep my more personal pictures separate from my doll pictures, as I share the doll pictures with more people. For example, I have a flickr devoted only to doll things and I have one devoted only to real-life related things. I don't have one for friends and family because I'm not comfortable with sharing pictures of people online - I don't wish for others to do it with me and therefore won't do it with others. Plus the people who subscribe to my doll-flickr are doing so purely for pictures of dolls, I feel like I'd disappoint them/spam them with a lot of pictures they have no interest in if it were all mixed into one. I've felt this way about some people, too. To see one of my favorite doll photographers update after not having updated for months just to show me a picture of their new shoes is kind of annoying and disappointing.
       
    5. Why do you photograph your dolls and make photostories?
      I don't make photostories, but I do take photographs. I collect many other dolls, but I only photograph my BJDs. I thought about this for a while and I think it's because BJDs can look so different just by changing their eyes and wigs. So part of it for me is to save all the different looks of my dolls. Also, when I'm interested in buying a new doll, owner pictures really help me decide. So I figure maybe my pictures can also be helpful for someone.

      Do you just simply enjoy your doll and play with her without photographing her in a story?
      Yes. I love making them look completely different all the time, as well as trying to sew for them. If they end up looking really great in a new wig or pair of eyes, I'll usually try to snap a picture before I change them, but I don't always get around to it before I'm playing with them again.

      Why do so many people in the BJD community use Doll Photography as a hobby in itself? (not owning BJDs as a hobby, but the hobby of photographing the BJDs)
      I think because it's fun to share photos with other people. It can help everyone connect and feel more like a community. Or maybe they just like photography a lot? I don't really know.

      What do you do with these photos that you take? Do you sell them like a print? Do you have them for personal enjoyment? Why?
      I put them on Flickr. I take them for myself, to compare how a doll has looked over time, and for others who might be considering whether they want to buy a certain sculpt.
       
    6. Why do you photograph your dolls and make photostories?

      To share them with others, because it's fun, because they're easy to photograph being highly posable and won't move or twitch at inopportune moments. Because they are so customizable, they are perfect to create characters with and as it's a very visual hobby, doing a story in photostory format makes sense. The dolls lend themselves to it. It's another way to be creative with them.

      Do you just simply enjoy your doll and play with her without photographing her in a story?

      I've always written fiction more than photographed, since I'm lacking in the furniture and prop area, and my digital point and shoot camera is rather limited. I've started doing more with photography, however, and have plans to translate a lot of the written material into photostory format.

      Why do so many people in the BJD community use Doll Photography as a hobby in itself? (not owning BJDs as a hobby, but the hobby of photographing the BJDs)

      Why not? Abjds lend themselves to being hands on and as I mentioned before, make great models for photography. A lot of folks don't just set there dolls on a shelf and leave them there (though of course it's ok if they would rather do that too), so people do a lot of other activities with them. I know for me, the abjd hobby overlaps with a lot of my other interests which I bring with me to this hobby and that influences how I play with my dolls. If someone already has a passion for photography, it makes perfect sense that it would play a big part of how they participate with abjds. I see no reason to keep abjds separate from my other interests, and bringing these hobbies and interests together really enriches my experience in the abjd hobby.

      What do you do with these photos that you take? Do you sell them like a print? Do you have them for personal enjoyment? Why?

      It's for personal enjoyment more than anything. I post them to my LJ (I use my LJ as a doll website rather than a blog. It helps me keep my doll stuff organized) and sometimes in forums if I want to share with a larger audience.

      The fact that taking doll pics is so common really isn't strange -- people take pics of all kinds of things, and photography is an art form in itself. Though some people take pics of their dolls less to create a photographic work of art, but rather as a way to share what they've done with their doll with the community. This is especially true when you take into consideration how much of the community interaction takes place on the net rather than face to face. If you want to show someone your character design, outfit you made, faceup you did, what a particular sculpt looks like, it often means pulling out a camera and snapping some pics.
       
    7. While I personally don't do photostories, photography is a huge part of the hobby for me. In fact it's the largest part of it besides the dolls themselves.
      The hobby is different things for different people, some people largely enjoy the modification aspect or making clothes or simply collecting, it's really just how each person approaches the hobby and in a way that's what makes the hobby so varied, there are so many different facets to it, it attracts a huge range of people, skills and talents.

      As for why I take photos of my dolls? My dolls are simply something I enjoy photographing and using as subjects to hone my skills, the same way some people might prefer to shoot landscapes or fashion, again it's personal preference. The fact they're almost a contradiction when it comes to photographing is a huge draw for me because while it's very much still life most of the techniques we use to capture them are closer to portraiture or fashion photography and that's where a lot my own inspiration comes from and I've found photographing my dolls has opened me up to a lot of other genre's of photography.


      I think a lot of the reason photographing dolls, regardless of the actual artistic intend or skill has become such a standard for the hobby is because most people simply enjoy sharing their dolls with others and because the community is global and many of us will never meet face to face posting photos is really the only way to do it.
       
    8. I think that's such a great question. I write an online soap/blog, my aim is to entertain people with my own created world. It's a mix of nostalgia, satire and seeing the world as I'd like it to be. The great thing is seeing comments from people who understand the humour and add their own feedback.
       
    9. When I was little, posing and photographing my dolls was exactly how I "played' with them. I didn't move them around and make them say things (okay, I think I did when I was four, but my more recent memories don't have me doing that). I shifted into this mode where I set them up and imagined in my head what sort of scene was playing out, and I bought disposable cameras and took pictures of them. Most of said pictures didn't turn out well, but I certainly loved them.

      As an adult, I got into BJDs because I wanted to create fan art, actually. I can't draw as beautifully as some fan artists can; but I can customise a doll and set up a scene and create some extraordinary photographs, and thus contribute some stunning and unusual fan art to my fandoms. Well... of course, as soon as I got BJDs, I fell back into my old mode of wanting to play with the dolls, by setting up scenes and photographing them just the way I did when I was 10 years old. Because that's just how I have fun with dolls, I guess.

      So the reason I photograph my dolls is that that's just what you do with dolls, if you're me. That, and that I started collecting them in order to photograph them and make art.
       
    10. Why do you photograph your dolls and make photostories?
      BJD are honestly so close to lifelike that it only feels natural to give them personalities and make them take photos as realisticaly as possible, the portrayal of emotion with something like a statue is also art is it not? How about a posable, customizable and moveable one?

      Do you just simply enjoy your doll and play with them without photographing them in a story?
      Yes, though part of that is due to the fact that many of mine are works in progress.

      Why do so many people in the BJD community use Doll Photography as a hobby in itself? (not owning BJDs as a hobby, but the hobby of photographing the BJDs)
      Because again it's a capture of expressions, these BJD's are hauntingly lifelike in some cases, or at least tangable 3D objects one can manipulate and capture.

      What do you do with these photos that you take? Do you sell them like a print? Do you have them for personal enjoyment? Why?
      I would only sell them if they turned out well. Again, why do people take pictures of statues? It's the same emotion to both things, though some people have more of a deep personal connection with their dolls.
       
    11. Why do you photograph your dolls and make photostories?

      These dolls are different from ordinary dolls that one buys and displays in mint condition on a shelf. They are meant to be customized in different ways. Really, what's the point of going to a lot of trouble to customize a doll if no one ever sees it but the person who owns it? I photograph my dolls to share with friends, most of whom live far from me. I don't make up elaborate photostories exactly, but sometimes make up captions for doll photos.

      Do you just simply enjoy your doll and play with her without photographing her in a story?

      I enjoy my dolls a lot all by myself, but if I find or make them a new outfit or change them in some way, it's fun to show my friends. They photograph their dolls for me to admire as well. Some people like to make up stories and some don't.

      Why do so many people in the BJD community use Doll Photography as a hobby in itself? (not owning BJDs as a hobby, but the hobby of photographing the BJDs)

      Some people are better at photography than others, but I think most people who like taking pictures of them own at least one or have a partner or close friend who owns one. I don't personally know anyone who has doll photography as a hobby who doesn't also own them.

      What do you do with these photos that you take? Do you sell them like a print? Do you have them for personal enjoyment? Why?

      My doll photos just stay on my hard drive unless I happen to delete them. I don't do anything with them unless I decide to post one on a doll forum.

      Edit: I didn't even own a nice camera until I started collecting these dolls. I like to take photos of them also as a way to practice with my camera. I take photos of lots of things besides dolls.
       
    12. Thank you for this thought-provoking exercise!!!

      Why do you photograph your dolls and make photostories?

      I photograph my dolls because the dolls are still-life objects with which a photographer can convey something - an idea, a thought, an emotion. This is a rare find for the photographic artist. Many professional artists have spent their entire careers focusing their creative lens on a single subject: flowers, insects, horses, landscapes, people. The dolls are very much part of this type of expression. For me, they are a very worthwhile subject.

      Do you just simply enjoy your doll and play with her without photographing her in a story?

      I don't "play" with my dolls and I no longer really "create" for them either. However, I enjoy them immensely and derive HUGE amounts of aesthetic satisfaction out of small doll vignettes in my home. Cynthia in Flint Hills has, in the past, touched upon the very important aspect of some dolls acting as "house gods" - some of my dolls hold this role for me, too.

      Why do so many people in the BJD community use Doll Photography as a hobby in itself? (not owning BJDs as a hobby, but the hobby of photographing the BJDs)

      The nature of this online hobby requires a format in which the hobbyists can share their obsession. ABJD has effectively discovered that sharing via photography is the perfect synthesis of the dolls and the online community.

      What do you do with these photos that you take? Do you sell them like a print? Do you have them for personal enjoyment? Why?


      I share them here and on my livejournal. Because of the copyrighted nature of the actual dolls I have not pursued selling prints but have begun to tease out the idea of compiling thematic books for my friends.
       
    13. Half of the stuff posted on dA is not quite art, but that's a whole different story. Not everyone enjoys photographing their dolls and that's perfectly fine, but most do.

      Why do you photograph your dolls and make photostories?
      I don't make photostories, but I do have photosessions with my dolls. I love to show what I put together or created and people often love to see it. Appearantly I have some fans that get happy from seeing my dolls (which in return, makes me very happy!).

      Do you just simply enjoy your doll and play with her without photographing her in a story?
      Yes, I can enjoy them without taking pictures of them, but photography (not just dolls) is a big art of my life so I enjoy it through and through. Dolls are the perfect models. I'm always full of ideas and I can act them out through my dolls.

      Why do so many people in the BJD community use Doll Photography as a hobby in itself? (not owning BJDs as a hobby, but the hobby of photographing the BJDs)
      Because photography is just a fun hobby. Often people photograph other things aswell (that you'll probably never see). I can't answer for other people, but I knew I was going to take alot of pictures of my dolls before I even got one. It's the way I play with them.

      What do you do with these photos that you take? Do you sell them like a print? Do you have them for personal enjoyment? Why?
      I share them with the world. I keep them in folders. I wouldn't sell them, because they are my dolls and it's not like anyone would want it. Photography is about having fun, not making money.



      You could also ask, why do people take so much pictures of their cats? Or other pets? Or themselves? Because they want to share what they love with the world.
       
    14. Why do you photograph your dolls and make photostories?

      I only have started photographing my doll because, when I signed up on DoA, I noticed other people were doing it...so...I did it, too.


      Do you just simply enjoy your doll and play with her without photographing her in a story?

      Oh, yeah. I mean, there are a lot of times where I think "this would make a great pic", or "I should run out, get my camera and take a picture", but most of the time, I'm lazy, and I don't.


      Why do so many people in the BJD community use Doll Photography as a hobby in itself?

      Maybe because people tend to gravitate towards their doll enough, that it becomes almost like a specialty?


      What do you do with these photos that you take? Do you sell them like a print? Do you have them for personal enjoyment? Why?

      I try to use them around DoA in the games section, a lot of times. I have them on my Photobucket, though I'd rather put them all on my Flickr... But I try to take pics mostly for DoA.
       
    15. I just wanna come from the opposite side of the spectrum and say I don't really photograph my dolls. I only do so for specific reasons. For instance, I sold a doll recently and needed pictures for that. I also would if I wanted to show a new doll off to the forum for the first time, but I don't gain much enjoyment just from the act of photographing my doll. Probably because I'm so horrible at it.
      Photography is a skill I lack, and I've always assumed that the people who did photostories had an underlying interest in photography before they got in to the hobby.
       
    16. Why do you photograph your dolls and make photostories?

      I was more into toy photography and cameras before I even started the whole BJD thing, and more or less realized that dolls were a good excuse to get further into that type of photography since I dislike human subjects and do horrendously bad landscape pictures on a frequent basis. Now it's become more of an exercise in composition and training my eye than anything else.

      I don't do photostories since I draw comics already and have very little interest in them.

      Do you just simply enjoy your doll and play with her without photographing her in a story?

      I do right now because of how busy I am - I've got sewing that I can do and needle felting little accessories too. Setting up a good photoshoot is a lot of work!!

      Why do so many people in the BJD community use Doll Photography as a hobby in itself? (not owning BJDs as a hobby, but the hobby of photographing the BJDs)

      I think everyone else has answered this better than I could, but yeah, everyone's got different reasons but it's all related to love and passion (which is one of the biggest things I love about the community). And I do think it's great how far photography can go when it's done well.

      What do you do with these photos that you take? Do you sell them like a print? Do you have them for personal enjoyment? Why?

      Flickr dump and share with some other doll friends. Photography's something I'm trying desperately to keep as a pure hobby just because I work as a designer/artist.
       
    17. Why do you photograph your dolls and make photostories?

      Several reasons. As some have already mentioned, its really the only effective way to share your enthusiasm with other doll owners if you live in a particularly isolated area.

      I also like to show off outfits and faceups, basically looking for a positive response to my creative endeavors.

      Lastly, I have a lot of fun looking at other beautiful, funny, interesting, creative, and overall entertaining photos of other peoples dolls. It only seems right that I contribute.

      Do you just simply enjoy your doll and play with her without photographing her in a story?

      My dolls do not have stories. They have names, and occasionally emotions, but they aren't characters like a lot of people have with their dolls. The only real 'play' I have with my doll, outside of photos, is styling and the infinite possibilities of customization.

      Why do so many people in the BJD community use Doll Photography as a hobby in itself? (not owning BJDs as a hobby, but the hobby of photographing the BJDs)

      I wasn't aware such a thing existed actually. I don't see how you could want to be a doll photographer and not own a doll, honestly.

      What do you do with these photos that you take? Do you sell them like a print? Do you have them for personal enjoyment? Why?

      I have seriously considered buying prints of BJDs that I have seen for sale. They can be just as much a work of art as anything else. Photography is not my artistic passion, so I would not sell my own photos. Very similar to my first response, I post my photos online to feel connected, receive feedback, and hopefully share something entertaining with others.
       
    18. Why do you photograph your dolls and make photostories?

      For me, it's a way to interact with them and to discover their personality. There are pictures that seem like a good idea but when I go to take the picture, it just doesn't seem right for her, so I don't take it. And the pictures that are right for her makes her more complete.

      Do you just simply enjoy your doll and play with her without photographing her in a story?

      I haven't made a photostory yet, but I want to in the future. I do like to have her wear whatever new outfits I get for her, and having her nearby to see makes me smile.

      Why do so many people in the BJD community use Doll Photography as a hobby in itself? (not owning BJDs as a hobby, but the hobby of photographing the BJDs)

      It's another way to interact with their BJDs as well as a way to explore their artistic creativity. It's much the same as with as creating outfits with their sewing skills.

      What do you do with these photos that you take? Do you sell them like a print? Do you have them for personal enjoyment? Why?

      I have posted some of them on this site to share with others, but most of them stay in a folder in My Pictures on my computer. The better photos I have uploaded to PhotoBucket and I also use them as a photo screensaver slideshow on my computer. So I guess it's mostly for personal enjoyment. I don't see them being used in a commercial way.
       
    19. Why do you photograph your dolls and make photostories?

      To begin with, I am an artist by trade- I am a freelance illustrator, going to school for animation, but my sadly commonly ignored hobby IS photography. I purchased a Canon DSLR several years ago and haven't gotten to use it much since. These dolls are very much a chance for me to get out and enjoy photographing again~ In another way I also like to share my dolls with other hobbyists and my friends, as well.

      Do you just simply enjoy your doll and play with her without photographing her in a story?

      I do that alot! Right now I only have Malish, who I carry around with me, cuddle, and simply love to have around! Frankly, so long as one is careful with them, gentle, I think it's great to have them around with you!

      Why do so many people in the BJD community use Doll Photography as a hobby in itself? (not owning BJDs as a hobby, but the hobby of photographing the BJDs)

      It's an easier way of showing the dolls to others, isn't it? You can make a nice dress, or make a cool mod, but when hobbyists are all over the world, you can't quite walk down the road and say "hey check out what I did!"

      What do you do with these photos that you take? Do you sell them like a print? Do you have them for personal enjoyment? Why?

      I just keep them for personal enjoyment and that of others- I really have no interest in selling prints of my work right now, photography or otherwise, so I don't bother trying.
       
    20. Thank you everyone so much for all your amazing responses! I found it so interesting that BJDs were referred to as a type of still life, but in the human form. Personally that is an idea that I have a hard time wrapping my head around. I compare it to wanting to make a painting or a picture of a fruit bowl, but instead of using real fresh fruit, you use plastic fruit! I am sure that you can argue that the plastic fruit will never go bad or move or get a bruise on it, but its not quite the same, is it? I would image that if you had an interesting photo story to tell and had the money and the means, just hire some actors to model it for you. That is why I am so glad people are responding to this topic. I agree that the BJDs are beautiful in themselves to take a picture of and wonderful to share your enthusiasm with friends another BJD fans...... But I don't see them as a replacement for a person as a model!

      Also, given the very international, spaced out, and anonymous nature of BJDs I agree that photographs are a great way to stay in touch with other BJD fans when you can't meet fans in your area or can't go to a doll meet.

      Another question: The dolls seem to live in an existence of their own when people take pictures of them. Why are owner photographs with dolls so rare? Do the owners want to be anonymous? If that is the case, then why?