Thursday, January 9, 2014

Getting to know Suri Pullip Photoshoot

I had a bit of time this afternoon, so I decided to take a few pictures of my new Bloody Red Hood doll, Suri. I took her to the window, and got a few shots of her looking out:
Suri (Bloody Red Hood)
Gazing out at the snow

I know, no one wants to see the insides of a doll's eye socket, but I really liked how the sun was shining on her face and hair here.  These are the kinds of photos I take when left on my own.  Don't worry, Scott jumps in to help soon!

Suri (Bloody Red Hood)
Suri's tattered stock outfit looks so soft in this light
Then Scott reminded me that I got a mini-reflector for my birthday (perfect for doll-sized photos!), and I haven't tried it out yet, so out it came!  Scott helped me set it up.  We are using the sunlight in our backyard to light the back of Suri and to put little highlights on the edges of her hair and clothes, then we are bouncing that same sunlight off the reflector and onto the front of her face and body.  I was apprehensive about the idea of backlighting her, but this is the setup we (read: he) came up with (all the rest of the photos in this post were taken on this stool with this lighting set-up):

Photo shoot by the window

And this is the beautiful shot I got from that setup:
Suri (Bloody Red Hood)
She's so freakin' photogenic!
The boots (and a wide stance) help her stand on her own, but it still takes some patience.  When I pose my dolls I am learning that they look more life like if I turn their head just slightly.  In the photo above Suri's body is turned slightly to the right, but her head is looking straight at the camera.  It is important to get her eyes looking right into the camera for this kind of pose to avoid creepy, lifeless doll-stares.

Another thing I'm learning is that in fashion photography (most of what I did today was portrait photography, but I got a couple of fashion shots for fun), not only does the focus need to be on the clothes, but it helps if the model is actually looking away, and relatively straight-standing or sitting (and since straight-sitting is impossible for a stock Pullip body, I went for standing).
Suri (Bloody Red Hood)
This photo focusses on her dress and Suri herself is more of a prop for the dress
Using a narrow depth of field with a focus on the dress helps, but also making sure Suri's pose is not too interesting and that she is not engaging with the viewer keeps the viewer focussed on the dress.

Suri (Bloody Red Hood)
Cropping mid-calf is not good.  Cropping for this photo would have looked better above the knee.
I obviously have to work on my cropping.  

I also wanted to practice some mood shots.  In the next photo I was trying to make her look shy.  Normally I compose a photo so that the model is looking in towards the centre of the photo, but because she is looking kind of away from the camera, almost like she's avoiding it, or about to turn away (by looking towards the outside edge of the photo rather than towards the centre), I think she looks a little shy.

Shy girl
Shooting from above makes her appear to be looking downward.
Suri's Type 4 stock body doesn't allow her to tilt her head at all, which makes it difficult to portray a mood.  I can't bow her head to look thoughtful or sad, or tilt it to the side to look confused or surprised.  I figured out that when her eyes are pointing forward(ish) and I shot from above (like in the photo above) then it looks like she is looking downward.  Suri's lips also look poutier from this angle, so she looks a little sad.

When I shoot from below (like in the photo below), she looks like she is gazing upward:

Suri (Bloody Red Hood)
Shooting from below makes her appear to be looking upward.
The photo above makes Suri look more happy, or alert and hopeful.

Although I had only been taking photos for about 10 minutes, the sun was quickly moving behind the trees and there were lots of clouds moving our way, so I wanted to try one really dramatic pose before packing it all up:
On Bended knee
Closed eyes is a good way of portraying emotion
Until I get an Obitsu body for her, Suri is very limited in her poseability, but I was able to get her to do this upright kneel without her toppling forward.  I put her hands in a praying position and added her velvet red cape for extra drama in the back.  I swooshed her hair so it pooled on the "floor" by her knee and closed her eyes.  The purple eye shadow also adds drama.  I think she looks peaceful/hopeful in this praying pose.  She looks confident, as if she knows her prayer will come true- or maybe she's just waiting for a sign.  If I had shot from above she would look more sad or thoughtful in prayer.  I wish I had her hands in focus- I forgot I could manipulate the ISO so I ended up limited to a low aperture because of the low light and not wanting/having time to use a tripod.

At this point, the sun was gone and I no longer had the light I needed on the front of the doll.  I wanted to get one kneeling shot with her eyes open, so I quickly shot this one:

Suri (Bloody Red Hood)
Wistful?  Inquisitive?
I had to process this one to get it light enough to include here, so I've lost some of the sharpness (especially noticeable in her hair), but even so, I quite like this shot.  Because of the angle, it looks like she is leaning forward a bit (she actually isn't leaning- she would fall over if she were).  Although she is not looking directly at the camera she does't have a dead doll-gaze- it looks more like she's wistfully or inquisitively looking off to the side.  It could be that her pose is more dynamic, so her head looks titled even though it can't tilt.  Whatever it is, this photo definitely elicits emotion... I just don't know which!  And that's the beauty of doll photography.  I can include a caption or some lines of text, or a song and an ambiguous expression becomes defined.
So that's what I learned this afternoon.  I'm hoping to put some of this learning to use soon.  I'd love to make a Pullip Music Video soon.

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