Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Interview: Doll Photography by Sharon Wright

Not too long ago, I contacted Sharon Wright asking her if she'd be willing to do a little interview for my blog, and she was incredibly kind and generous with her response!
Not only that, but she is one interesting lady!

The first time I saw her work, it was on Facebook,
and I was blown away by not only the quality of it,
but also by the dynamic poses she was achieving.

I was also drawn in by the fact that her photos, which are always beautiful,
are often times humorous or dark as well.


That's when I saw that she not only takes awesome photos,
but she also makes and sells the stands she uses!


I had to buy one to try it out!
We'll do a product review in a bit though,
first, on with the interview!

First I had some questions about the business end of things:

1. How much do your prints cost?
 My prints are $25 for an 8x10, each additional print is $15
2. Where can people order your stand?
 My stands are $45 and can be ordered directly through me HERE.
 I accept payment through Paypal and shipping costs are not included in those prices. 

3. How much does your commission work cost? 
 I do offer commission and commercial work - it ranges from $50 and up depending on what the person wants. (I personalize all my services to fit the client.) I have shot entire collections, or just one special doll for people. I also work with designers, customizers and prop makers to help them sell more product with great pics. I even shoot those special toys from when our kids were growing up - those are some of my favorite!


Next up are some questions about how she came to do what she does
when it comes to doll photography:

4. When did you start photographing dolls?
 I got started about 12 months ago when my neighbor let me shoot a couple of her dolls. I had this fancy camera and no idea how to use it so I took it out one day when she was taking pics with them and was immediately hooked! They were so amazing and lifelike that I just fell in love. I bought my first girl on Ebay, a Spring Morning Poppy Parker Teen. She is my first and favorite and will forever be the Queen of the Hive I spent days and weeks watching photography tutorials and reading everything I could about ISO, Aperature, lenses, shutter speeds, etc - I was a maniac about learning everything I could so I could shoot them better! (and still have TONS more to learn)

5. Are you enjoying the doll community?
 The dolly world has been such a joy to find! The people I have "met" are some of the nicest people ever! Much different than the film world I am used to, lol! 


6. The film world?
 Oh - ya, my background is as an actress and director. I'm a three time best actress award winner and a two time Emmy award winning writer/director. I believe my background has really helped me in creating "moments" with the dolls rather than just "posing" them. My goal is to bring them to life in every shot and bring out their unique "personalities". Every doll speaks to me - and not in a creepy, crazy doll woman way lol! But they each have a unique voice and I love how they tell me "who" they are. 


7. Is there anything you'd like to let the readers know about, any upcoming projects?
 I'm super excited to be shooting the Haute Doll/Dolls Magazine calendar this year - and scared to death! I really want people to like what I do and hope like heck that I can at least meet their expectations and hopefully exceed them!  

8. For aspiring photographers ~ are there any tutorials or books on photography that you found especially helpful or informative?
 I didn't really read any books when I started learning. I watched a lot of tutorials and such on Youtube and visited a lot of photography websites. FStoppers is great as well as too many others to list. I knew working in small scale was completely different and I needed to learn to use manual settings on the camera. F Stops, ISOs, Apertures...it was all Greek to me so I just had to learn and go. I'd watch tutorials then go out and try it. It was really just a bunch of trial and error to find what worked. I still couldn't explain to you how I get an image, lol. I have professional photography friends that will ask me what my setting were for a particular image and I honestly have no idea...I'd be the worst teacher EVER!


9. As an actor/director, is there any advice on "creating a moment" that you can give that comes from what you've learned in the industry of movie making?
I think the biggest help with my background is my modeling experience. Understanding the body and creating angles that work best of the camera. In film and acting, however, it is about subtlety - the slightest movement of the head can convey a completely different emotion. When working with static objects, such as dolls - it makes a tremendous difference. Lighting creates drama as well. While I prefer to use natural light whenever possible, carving a scene with light can create some amazing results. I try to think of each "set up" as a moment in their lives. What are they doing, where are they going, what are they thinking. If you can really put yourself into their world and think like they do, then you can capture that moment with more realism than if you just set them up and snapped a pic. There are so many people who are incredibly talented with the studio/fashion shots - I am in awe with so many of them as they have nailed it WAY better than I ever could! I try to go with a more natural "everyday" type of style with them and once in a while I try to studio type of stuff but always try to put a unique twist on it some how. The world of doll photography is so amazing! It's like I tell my fashion photographer friends - everyone is incredibly talented but we each have our own styles. I can spot a DS Divas shot, a Jon Copeland shot, a Ryan Lang, MFalco, and SO many others - a mile away. We each have unique perspectives and I love that! What a wonderful world I have fallen into!

10. Were you interested in dolls as a child, or did the whole fascination begin with your neighbor's dolls in that first photo shoot?
Funny enough, no. I really wasn't. I prefered stuffed animals over dolls. I had a couple Barbies (A Sweet 16 is the one I remember most, I loved her). I remember wanted the 3-story Barbie townhouse SOOO badly but I never got it until my mom got me one at a garage sale a few years later and I was over it by then. Even my daughter never really played with them, so it was really strange that 10 months ago I fell in love with dolls! Now my daughter is doing the same thing, except with BJDs.

11. What kind of camera and lenses do you use?
I shoot on a Panasonic Lumix GH1. It is a micro 4/3 camera and my favorite lens in my Nikon 50mm. I'd love to get a really good camera sometime soon!


12. Which type of doll have you found the most agreeable to photograph? Who really works the camera?
Wow, that's a really tough question. I prefer to work with dolls that are articulated, stiff Barbies don't really do it for me, though I have shot a few of them. I'm really in love with Integrity's 16" dolls, particularly the Poppy Parker Teen and Tulabelle lines. Their bodies and poseability are fantastic and better than even their 12" which I also adore. Monster High/Ever After High dolls are super fun to work with too! I'd love to get the chance to work with some of the other companies like Sybarite, Tonner, JamieShow and I'd die to have a Numina one day (sigh) I love the BJD world, but I just can't afford to make that jump right now. 

13. What does your personal doll collection look like?
LOL! Well, it's a eclectic one...I have about 8 Integrity dolls currently. 5 of the 16" and about 3 of the 12". I cycle through them to keep my photos fresh - though my 16"' girls are pretty much here to stay- and of course dolls I get as gifts I also have a few Barbies, some of the Oz dolls, some Lalaloopsies and a collection of random other dolls/toys - including 100 small 3" Mego Bo Dukes that I like to randomly do things with. What started with a joke about what you could do with 100 Bo Dukes became a reality when my fiance actually bought them - he's awesome and quite the enabler! We also have many figures from Evil Dead, SAW, Breaking Bad and others that I randomly like to pull out and play with.

14. What is the most surprising doll photography job you've gotten? How did the client find out about you?
That would have to be the DOLLS Magazine/Haute Doll calendar. Holy crap I was so excited - honestly probably more excited than the Emmy noms! I had been recommended to them and when they contacted me - I was floored! I mean, seriously, I just learned photography 10 months ago and now I was going to be shooting this for them! I'm literally scared to death and working really hard right now to "up" my game so I can provide something that they will be super happy with. This job probably means more to me than just about any other I have had. I've also gotten to do some promo shots for a doll designer for her pre-sales which was really cool, and shooting collections for other customizers and collectors. It's been a really rewarding experience all around and I'm a really lucky girl to get to do this and meet so many amazing friends along the way!  

 If you're interested in seeing more of Sharon Wright's work, check out her flickr:

or her Facebook account:

A HUGE HUGE HUGE thank you to Sharon Wright,
who allowed me to ask her a bunch of questions,
even though she's a very busy lady!!!

 Now I said I'd have a little product review on the stand.

This is going to be short and sweet:

It did exactly what she promised it would do.
Here are a few photos I took using her stand,
and I have to say, I love the thing!

There's also a flickr group for folks to post the photos they've taken using her stand:

 As you can see in the image above, this stand works great with more than just Fashion Royalty girls,
I've used it on Pure Neemo and Blythe as well. It works wonderfully!

 Of course, Veronique needed a little camera time too!
This works great for helping FR girls strike dynamic, or even just more realistic standing poses.

What I really love it for are these action shots that just wouldn't be possible, otherwise:


  1. Fabulous interview. Very interesting!

  2. Thanks for sharing this. Very interesting, and I love her work.

  3. Ah so that's how you got those shots! I had been curious about that.

    It's fantastic you posted this interview. I've not heard of this lady before but already from what I have seen in this post, I love her work. Makes me wish I collect this size dolls so I could try out that stand.

  4. And here I thought folks were using fishing line and a little photoshop brush. I HAVE SO MUCH TO LEARN about those wacky 'ultra-dynamic' poses.

  5. How freakin' inspirational! Her photos have such a wonderful richness.