So I got a great question recently… and it prompted me to write up a little explanation about how I did the Fall Line photography. The question was:

“I’m having trouble with the dolls coming out looking shiny in all my pictures. I can’t figure out how to get that fixed”.


Answer: It looks like your using one light in the front. Correct? My suggestion would be to use a softer light in the front and two lights angled at the sides, one of them could even be pointing from behind her. That would eliminate any shadows. The shiny effect of the doll skin is from too much light on her face. It’s tricky to get the light right. The best light is natural light. I like to set up outside, but in the shade so it’s not direct light – Direct light creates too many shadows. You can also have your doll face a big window if you’re shooting indoors, but don’t have her be in the direct light from the window.

My Fall Line pic’s were all shot inside and I had to deal with this issue. First I set things up in my living room, and shot a bunch, but there was not enough light in that room – and the pictures looked too grey and not vibrant, and there were too many shadows from the side. You couldn’t really tell until you got them in the computer. It was subtle, but noticeable. Not good enough! Here are a couple of examples, (you can click on the images to view them larger). (Notice in the first picture that the dolls look shiny – that’s from 1 indoor light pointing at them from the bottom left corner):

Then I decided to move to my office, facing a large window and using large sheets of foam core board for the backround. There was just a bit more light, and it pushed them into the right ‘zone’. Here are a few examples:

Photography is mostly about light – and getting the light right. If you’re not getting the results you want. Ask yourself these questions:

1. Do I have the doll facing a bright natural light – (even if it’s inside).

2. Do I have enough light overall to remove shadows?

3. If natural light isn’t evailable, do I have several strong light sources that will create a warm lighting environment? (Just 1 light is a bad idea).

4. Do the dolls eyes shine brightly?

5. Do I have the right gear? We recommend a DSLR and a ‘portrait lens’…(Read my post about our camera and lens )- for this shoot we used the 50mm/1.8f.

I hope you enjoyed this post! Tell us what you think…leave a comment…