Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Doll Photography with Beast'sbelle #3: Emotion

Wow, guys...I'm up to 225 followers and close to 400,000 pageviews!!  I never dreamed this little blog would come so far.  Thank you to all of you who follow my blog, read my posts, and leave such wonderful comments.  I couldn't have done this without you. :)

To show my appreciation, I have a little mini giveaway planned for when I officially reach the 400,000 pageviews mark.  Stay tuned for more details! :)

Now, on to our next photography post. :)  We've covered posing, lighting, and background already.  Today, it's all about emotion.

What makes a photo stand out in a photo story?  Quality and beauty are both helpful, but for me, it comes down to pictures that capture the emotion of the story.  When the dolls in the picture look like they're actually feeling the way the author describes, I'm hooked.

As any of you who have done doll photo stories know, however, this can be a difficult thing to accomplish.  Dolls, unlike humans, cannot change their facial expressions.  So how on earth do we capture emotions other than happiness when we're working with a perpetually cheerful, smiling doll?

Here are a few tips I've figured out along the way. ;)

Body Language:

This is by far the tool I use the most when trying to express a certain emotion on camera.  The way a doll is posed can suggest all sorts of emotions or feelings.  Here are just a few examples:

In this photo, Maggie and Tess are in conversation.  Maggie, bold and opinionated as usual, stands tall and has full eye contact.  Tess, who is shy and doesn't like to contradict, stands slightly hunched over and is not quite meeting Maggie's eyes.

Here, Tess is comforting Hailey.  To show Hailey's sadness, I placed her in a slumped over sitting position. Many times when we're trying not to cry, we look down and avoid eye contact.  I wanted to express Tess's concern for her sister, so I decided to make her lean over her sister.  She is looking into Hailey's face because all of her attention is focused on her.  Little details like having her right hand almost touching Hailey's shoe and her left arm around her sister add to the feel of the picture.

Raised arms are very useful for expressing a variety of emotions.  When Maggie has her arms raised, it's usually when she's in ranting mode. ;)

Raised arms can also be used to express excitement, over new dolls...

...or amazing food. ;)

In this picture I wanted to show Tess's happiness with her new doll.  Having her hold the doll close and lean against her gave the impression I wanted.

Although it's not exactly an emotion, body language can also depict sleepiness.  I especially loved placing Janie face down, as if she'd completely worn herself out and flopped down on the bed. ;)

Here, Belle is not interested in going on a walk with Robby, as suggested by her hand and the way she is turned away from him.  Robby has one hand stretched out, as if he just asked her but was cut short.

In this photo, I wanted to express Robby's longing for Belle's affection.  Meanwhile, Belle is feeling a bit shy, so she is looking away with her chin dipped down and her hands in her lap.

Here, Belle has just had an argument with Robby and is feeling frustrated by her actions.  I put her hand on her forehead, as many humans do when exasperated by something.  The sideways camera angle, which was basically used so my hand wouldn't show in the picture, ended up adding a cool artsy look to the photo. 

Facial Expression:

I know this may not make sense when I specifically said that dolls do not change their expressions.  Let me explain myself. ;)  Sometimes, the expression painted on a doll's face lends itself to a certain personality and helps with photo stories.  

For example, as soon as I got Ben, I knew he had a very serious personality.  He always comes across as quite stately in his photos, especially when he's gazing across the room.  I always sort of picture him as a doll version of Mr. Darcy from "Pride and Prejudice". ;)

I also knew he would be the perfect physician for the group.  He always looks intelligent and serious when bent over the latest patient.  Plus, he can bend his legs completely back, which comes in handy for those bedside photos. ;)

There's something very earnest in Robby's expression, so I always portray him as very straightforward and sincere.  There's also a bit of a wistful quality there, which worked well for all of those "pining after Belle" posts. ;)

Even sweet Tess's face helped to determine her personality.  With those big, brown eyes and that closed-mouth smile, I knew she was going to be quiet and shy.

Author's Interpretation:

Sometimes, a picture I take inspires a story.  I look at the way the picture turns out and add my own spin to it.  I couldn't find many examples of this, but I do have the picture below:

This picture was used in one of Belle's posts when she was just beginning to realize her feelings for Robby, but hadn't really admitted it to herself.  In this picture, they'd just fallen off of a lion statue and were laughing and catching their breath.  Then it turned into one of those moments that suddenly becomes intense and uncomfortable.  Robby's heart is in his eyes, and Belle is caught off guard, wondering why her plastic heart is beating so fast. ;)

Now, you may or may not have gotten that by looking at the picture.  But if I put it in the context of a story, you might find yourself going, "Oh, yeah!  That is what it looks like." ;)

Hiding the Face:

One of the hardest emotions to capture with dolls is sadness.  How can you make a doll look sad when they are very plainly smiling?  I've found that what works the best is to hide their face from the camera.  This can give the impression of sadness even though your doll is still grinning from ear to ear. ;)

This picture and the next were both taken from the Belle's Bulletins post when Robby was seriously injured.  To make Belle look like she was crying, I turned her face from the camera and put one hand up next to her eye, as if she was wiping away her tears.  Unfortunately, to get this pose I had to hold her arm in place, and I forgot to edit my hand out of the picture. :}

I also love how this picture turned out.  Rapunzel is comforting Belle as she cries.  You see just enough of Belle's face to diminish her happy features, and since only Rapunzel's eyes are showing, it gives the idea that she is staring off into the distance, just as stunned by the incident as her friend is.

This also works with 18" dolls.  In this picture, Charlie is comforting Hailey.  Since I couldn't show Charlie's face without making her look cheerful, I photographed her facing away from the camera.  Hailey's somber expression has just enough of a melancholy feel to it to give the impression of sadness.

This is not an exhaustive post on the subject by any means, but hopefully it's given all of you a few ideas for your own photo stories. :)  I'd love to hear your thoughts, ideas, or suggestions on this subject.  Just leave them in the comments. :)

My last photography post will be on editing, so check back for that either later this week or early next week. :)  (Click HERE to get to the next photography post.)

UPDATE:  Eep!!  Just officially hit 400,000 pageviews!  Thanks so much everyone!!


The dolls! said...

I really like these!! I have been trying out some of your tips, and they really work! I have a Molly AG doll, and her "personality", is somewhat lonely, quiet, and smart, but I was having trouble capturing her emotions. Maybe now I will finally be able to capture Molly, in her typical, Concentrating, look, Oh and I have always loved the look of Tess's face! It sort of just screams, Quiet and shy! With a bit of mystery and longing always looming in her eyes!

Abbie R,

Cachetas said...

Ooh can't wait for the giveaway!!!!
By the way, LOVE these posts, they are a great tip for my personal photography

beastsbelle said...

I'm so glad you both have found these posts helpful. :)

Abbie, I hope you get some great pictures of Molly. :)

Cachetas, I hope to have the giveaway post up soon...most likely at the beginning of next week. :)

Anonymous said...

OMG! In the picture after Belle argued with Robby, Belle is wearing this dress that I have!
The one with the pink stripe on the middle and the almost see through pink thing on the collar and wrists.
I have the same Barbie dress a beastsbelle! Woo hoo!

beastsbelle said...

Lol...glad to have made your day. ;)

Delilah said...

Congratulations, you are one of doll diaries' picks of the week:

Mimi Parkridge said...

I found this from Doll Diaries - I bookmarked the page, definitely a new favorite!

beastsbelle said...

I just found that out tonight! :D It's always such a fun surprise to be recognized elsewhere. Thanks for letting me know, Delilah. And of course, thanks to Char of Doll Diaries! :)

Mimi, I'm so glad you enjoyed the post. Thanks for stopping by. :)

Anonymous said...

Extremely off topic, but do you recommend Hayden? I was thinking of getting her. :)

beastsbelle said...

I would definitely recommend Hayden. She's one of my all-time favorite dolls. Not only is she beautiful and super photogenic, her hair has held up well. Every few weeks I spritz it using one of AG's little spritzer bottles. Then I brush through her hair and finger curl it. Since her hair is more wavy than curly, it's much easier to take care of than Jenna's or Emma's. :)

You will not regret getting a #55 if you decide to do so. :)