Photographer's Check List
by Gloria "Mimi" Winer and Jim Winer

This article appears online at Mimi's website. ODACA has permission to reprint it here to help doll artists produce the highest quality of photographs of their work.

Photographer's Check list

  1. Good Pictures are Up to You
  2. Film
  3. Learning to See
  4. Better Pictures

Good Pictures are up to You

  • Composition and perspective.
  • Check the background.
  • Watch out for shadows.
  • Make sure the contrast is good.
  • Focus carefully.

I have provided a more complete checklist below. You can photocopy the checklist and use it whenever you take pictures.

Remember that good pictures mean your work must be good. When you can see all the details clearly, it is important that the doll be well made and finished. Good photography can help you improve your dolls by making it easier to see what you have done wrong.

Mimi also uses pictures of children and adults to help her get the proportions of her dolls to be anatomically accurate. Making dolls is always a good excuse to take good pictures of your grandchildren—the same principles of photography apply. Learn them and all your photos will be better.


  • Use 100 speed film for outdoors. Use 400 speed film and a flash for indoors.
  • Don't store your film or leave your camera in a hot place like a closed car.
  • Buy your film fresh before you are going to use it.
  • Process your film soon after you use it.

Learning to See

1. Composition & Perspective

  • Shoot a baby from above, an adult from its own eye level.
  • Position the camera between one and two times the doll's height away for a more
    three-dimensional and real look.
  • Use the zoom lens to make the doll fill about 2/3 of the picture.
    Leave plenty of room above the head.

Filling the Frame

2. Check the Background

  • Avoid clutter.
  • One or two dolls maximum.
  • Use a plain background.
  • At a doll show or a friends house, try moving yourself if you can't move the doll.

3. Shadows

Move the doll away from the wall to cast shadows downward.

Controlling the Shadow

Use a hanging cloth to hide the floor line.

Hiding the Floor Line

4. Contrast

  • Use contrasting colors for doll, clothing, and background.
  • Use lighter and darker colors to help make the doll and its clothing stand out from the background. The best colors for the background are medium blue, medium tan, and white or off-white.

5. Focus

  • Don't get closer than your camera will focus.
  • If you have manual focus, learn how to use it.
  • Use a flash indoors or your camera may shake while the shutter is open.

Better Pictures

Remember that these same techniques apply to both dolls and people. Make a photocopy of this checklist and keep it with your camera. Use this checklist and take your pictures by the numbers until taking good pictures becomes a habit.

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