Our Camera Bag

Take great American Girl doll pictures! Read 18 inch doll diaries at our American Girl Doll House. Visit our 18 inch dolls dollhouse!We get soooo many questions about what camera we use and what editing software we use that we thought it would be a good idea to have a page to answer all your questions!

Many of you probably think that what kind of camera you use is equal to the kind of pictures you get.  The answer is yes.....and no!  Let us explain.

The best way to get awesome images is to be able to control your aperture, exposure and shutter speed.  Can this be done with a "point and shoot" camera?  In our opinion, not really.  This is because you are forced to choose a "setting" like "up-close" or "Landscape" or "people", etc.  In these "setting" choices, the camera decides what shutter speed to set, along with the exposure and aperture.  You have to take what the camera chooses with it's built in sensor based on what "setting" you've selected.

Now, when you move to a digital SLR, you can still go with an "auto" setting that will do pretty much the same as your "point and shoot" as explained above BUT you also now can choose between "aperture priority", "shutter priority" or "manual".  We shoot in manual exclusively. If you are completely new at using the manual setting, then we understand it can be down right overwhelming but trust us, it is worth the effort to sit down and read the manual that your camera comes with...then practice, practice, practice!

Take great American Girl doll pictures! Read 18 inch doll diaries at our American Girl Doll House. Visit our 18 inch dolls dollhouse!
With regard to our lenses or "glass" - We love, love, love our prime lenses.  Prime lenses are those that have a fixed aperture.  We have two that we use 85% of the time.  The only difference between them is the aperture; one is f/1.4 and one is f/1.8.  The latter is not very expensive at all and can be picked up on eBay® and gives great results.  We do have a zoom lens that we love too.  One day, we'd like to add an 85mm to our bag but for now, we're good. 

In addition to getting a great image SOOC (straight out of camera) we use an editing software program.  There are many to choose from but most of you will be familiar with the name "Photoshop".  We actually use a very, very old (and waaaaay out-dated) version of Photoshop.  We really should get up to speed on that but we like the old saying; "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!"  Yah.

Lighting is also extremely important; whether natural light or supplemental lighting.  Learning about lighting and how it effects your final image will give you a whole new perspective on how/where you set up your dolls, both indoors and outside.  For example; hitting your dolls in the face with a flash is never going to give you the most pleasing image.  Instead, trying bouncing your flash off the ceiling or off a wall or reflector. You'll be surprised just how much of a difference it makes!  Tried taking photos at noon with the sun directly over head?  We bet the result was your doll's eyes being dark and lifeless, also known as; raccoon eyes, lol.  Try morning or afternoon sun instead.  Or, if you have no choice, try a shady spot that has bright ambient light.

Perspective is also SO important.  Don't take all your photos from above your doll.  Get down on her level.....this is her 18" world you are photographing so you want to share it from her perspective, right?  Yes!  Lay on your belly and she what she sees!

Our camera bag includes;

(2) older model Nikon DSLR cameras
(1) SB-400 Flash
(1) 50mm f/1.4
(1) 50mm f/1.8
(1) 24-70mm f/2.8
(1) "pop-up" reflector

So, having said all this, please know that you don't have to have the latest, greatest most expensive camera or the top of the line photo editing software to produce lovely images.  However, we do feel it takes both to result in an amazing image; both a great capture in camera and just enough editing to bring out the best in your images!!  Have fun at it. Be creative.  Let your own style shine through!

We'll keep adding to this page as we think of helpful things to share.  In the mean time, if you have a question, you are welcome to submit it through a comment so all can learn.  ~ D3 Girls & Guys

28 comments:

  1. Where did you get the doll camera, it's so cute!

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    1. The camera was found at Target in the $1 bin. It is actually a key ring and has a real flash! Hollie loves hers!! ♥♥♥

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  2. Hi, I just thought that I would bring this to your attention. There is a blog (funwith--dolls.webs.com) that took one of your pictures of Saige. The girl says she took the picture, but it has your watermark on it.

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    1. Hello happyhouseofag. Thank you so much for letting us know. It is greatly appreciated! ~D3 Team ♥

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  3. I am into photography too. I love your photos, and I have always wondered: how to you get light into the back corners of your doll house when you take pictures? I understand if you don't want to give away all of your secrets!
    Could you please check out my blog? I make AG doll coloring pages.
    smalldollsinabigworld.com
    - American Girl Doll Artist

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    1. One of the easiest ways to get light into all four corners of a doll room is to use a reflector to bounce your light source back into the room. For instance, if you have natural light coming in from the left, place a reflector on the right to capture some of that light and direct or 'bounce' it back into the other side of the room. You can use a large piece of white foam board, a white sheet or anything that is large and white. Adjust your camera settings to let in as much light as possible without overexposing. If that is still not enough, some editing software offers the feature of adding 'fill light' but don't overdo that cause it looks weird if you do. Hope that helps! ~D3 Team ♥

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    2. Thank you! :)
      - American Girl Doll Artist

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  4. I have taken some doll photos for my blog (ouragdollhouse.blogspot.com). I don't use manual. I definitely need to learn how to do manual. Some of my pictures are good, and a few are funky. I need to learn how to use manual on our camera ASAP. I'm sure that will make my pictures much better.
    Thanks for the advice! I will let you know when I update my pictures!
    Thanks again!
    ~Charis Rae

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    1. Once you get comfortable with capturing your images in manual, it will really open up your creative abilities. You can start off first in Aperture Priority mode though and then study what your camera chooses as settings for that set up and then switch to manual and tweak the settings a bit so see if you like your manual settings better. It's a good way of learning when you are just beginning. :) Good luck!

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  5. Thanks! I took some new pictures and used a Social Studies Fair white poster board for a reflector. That helped a lot and I think the pictures turned out great! I will try to figure out the manual thing on my camera.
    Thanks!

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    1. That's awesome, Charis! Good for you!! Are the new photos on your blog yet?

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    2. Not yet. I'm using them for new profile pics for the doll profiles. As soon as I finish I will let you know.

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    3. Some of the new photos are on the blog! The ones with Felicity and Penny are my newest, and Nicole and Felicity's profile pics are done. I still have to get the others. :D

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  6. I was wondering, and over time, I have noticed the backgrounds of the dolls portfolios and I have wondered where they take place unless they are backgrounds so, where do you take you're photos?

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    1. The girls profiles are mostly done outside. Isabelle's cherry blossom background was made by us for her as she is from D.C. which is famous for them. If you have a specific one you'd like to know more about, just ask! ~D3 Team♥

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    2. Thanks! I've just wanted to say that you do a really good job with you're photos especially if it was outside with the light constantly changing. :)

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    3. Thank you so much! Yes, outside is a challenge but it's worth it! So happy you like the blog!!! ~D3 Team♥

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  7. where did you get the American girl doll camara

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    1. Hey there! The camera is from a key chain that we found somewhere a few years ago. Might have been Five Below! ~D3 Team♥

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  8. Hey Dolly Dorm Diaries!!! We absolutely love your blog and youtube channel! Your photos are perfection. How long have you been taking photos of your dolls? Mint, Clove, and I are new bloggers and youtubers, so this page has helped so much! We haven't posted anything yet but we plan to soon. When we do could you check out our channel and blog? We would love the support. Keep doing what your doing and stay dollicious!

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    1. Hello ya'll at Basil Buddies!! Thank you for your sweet words!! We have been taking photos of our girls for nearly 7 years. But we haven't had the blog that long.Yes, yes, yes - Tell us when you get your blog up and running! We'd love to check it out and spread some love your way! ~D3 Team

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  9. i am getting a blog so very soon I think I am going to call it "darling dolly girls"

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    1. That sounds super cute!!! Have fun with it! ~D3 Team

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  10. Hi!
    I am currently searching for a new camera, and was wondering if I could ask a few questions. :)

    What camera do you use?
    Where is a good place to buy?
    What do you recommend?

    Thanks! Love you blog and photos! :D

    -American Girl Doll Crafter
    Dolldays.com

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    1. Hi AGDC! We have two older Nikon DSLR cameras; the D700 & the D300. Any decent DSLR camera would work if you know how to use your settings AND learn how to use Photoshop. We have bought equipment from B&H Photo and eBay too. We cannot recommend any particular model of camera as we have not checked out any new models in many years. We can tell you that you can call B&H Camera in NY and actually talk to someone in the DSLR dept and get their recommendations. They are SUPER helpful. Good luck!!! ~D3 Team

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