I am no ace or professional photographer by any definition, although I admittedly enjoy photographing my beautiful and handsome dolls, primarily for my various blogs. Because I do maintain several blogs, I take doll pictures regularly–usually daily. Particularly because I have done a number of 365 projects–including the current one on my blog With Perfect Heart–I have taken hundreds of doll pictures of the past few years. Some pictures are far better than others, and I confess that I have thought some of them above average–including the one which one the top prize for photography at the 2012 Tonner Doll Convention. Another favorite is my Cythna (blonde Cami) standing amongst red roses on a gorgeous spring day; Robert Tonner, Cami’s creator, signed that photograph for me, and it hangs on my wall. Everyone takes a stellar photograph occasionally, even those of us who are not trained photographers or who do not own top-of-the-line cameras and equipment.
Photography is a form of art, and the most important element of a stellar photograph is, for me, that the heart and soul of the photographer somehow emit from the photograph, as if imprinted with a fingerprint. The artist must exist in her or his work for that work to have depth, authenticity, and–yes–life. Art is a reflection of life, but only when that life transfers from artist to art. I have stood in museums and gazed in awe at the works of Monet, Renoir, and Degas. The stunning beauty, the colors that appear as if back-lit by the sun, the fluidity, the movement, the peace–magic. These artists poured themselves into their works, onto their canvases, and it brings their works to life. Photographers do the same. When the subject matters personally to the artist and she or he connects with and becomes part of the subject, that transference occurs.
This happened to me the other day as I staged and took a photograph of Angilia for my blogs. The pictures I take of her and her family members–who are, in fact, doll versions of characters I created and wrote to life in my novel Heart-Glow–are based on that novel and future novels in the series. The characters and the novel draft pre-date the dolls, which are merely three-dimensional portraits of the characters. Those pictures are true in respect to the novel that is published and those to follow in these coming years. This particular picture was no different, and was born in the diary entries about her blessed past which Angilia shares with her father Eric in Chapter 7 of Heart-Glow. I knew ahead of time what I wanted the picture to look like, although I doubted that the actual picture would live up to that vision.
After I took the picture and uploaded it to my computer so I could upload it to my blogs, I opened the picture–and stared at it for several minutes. Had I just taken that picture? I staged it in my upstairs hallway against a wall, with only the two hall ceiling lights on. Without any arrogance, I admit that the colors, the seeming lit-from-behind quality that I saw, pleasantly surprised me. I honestly consider this the best photograph I have ever taken. With this picture, I took one baby step closer to my beloved Monet and Renoir and Degas, whose paintings never fail to take my breath and stun me. I may never take another picture similar to this in quality, but I took this one, as if my magic. I placed the backdrop, as always for doll pictures, I placed the “clouds” and the unicorn, and of course Angilia, I aimed the camera while sprawled on the floor, and I snapped the picture. That is all I did, which is what I always do. Something truly wondrous happened this time. This photograph of Angilia and her Heavenly unicorn friend Bracken Pretty Coat is my favorite of all of the doll pictures I have taken.