Outdoors, but make it indoors

Outdoor doll photos are some of my favorites. They give depth and texture to the photo, and it can add some realism to your dolly pics. When I do my photo compilations, outdoor pics tend to be some of your favorites. But sometimes we can't or don't want to go outside to take photos. So, for a while I've been thinking of ways I can get an outdoors feel in the comfort of my own house. 

Cover: Shea and Kim outdoors.

This idea has been on the back of my mind for about a year, and I'm finally writing a post about it. Not everybody has access to a beautiful garden with a pool where they can take doll pics whenever they want to. Many people don't feel comfortable going outside on a public space with their dolls, or they can't for whatever reason (like when we were in lockdown). Or maybe you just live in an area in which outdoor photography is limited because of the weather. I've also taken into consideration your comments on The great outdoors post, mentioning difficulties to kneel down or get to some areas for doll photos. So, with all that in mind, I started thinking of ideas to get that outdoors vibe in my doll room. 

The first idea that came to my mind is fairly simple: artificial plants. Recently, I got this vertical garden from Leroy Merlin, which is a DIY and gardening store, quite popular over here. They had several designs available, but I chose to go with boxwood (buxus sempervirens) because the leaves are smaller, and I thought it would look better against the dolls. Mine is 50x50 cm (1,64x1,64 feet), which I thought it was a good size. I would have preferred it to be wider, but the other size available was 1x1meter (3,28x3,28 feet), which I found too big to fit into my table. 

The back of the vertical garden has a grid, which allows me to tie some wool, so I can place it on my photo table. In the long run, I could also tie some artificial flowers to the grid, to add a pop of color. 

Because I use a work bench as a photo table, I can tie the background using the holes in the back, instead of having to tape it to the wall. However, if you don't have a back screen on your desk or anything like it, be careful with the tape, or you'll end up peeling your wall. 

I took a few quick portraits of my dolls, just to see how it will look. Despite not having much detail, I think it looks nice and adds some texture to the background. 

Because the doll is closer to the wall on this pic, it looks more artificial than on those that the dolls are further away, which is something to take into consideration. Also, I don't know what happened with the brightness here. 

I didn't use anything to cover my table. Many patios or decks have some sort of wooden floor, so I thought it could look realistic. However, you can always make a floor piece, or use artificial grass to cover your table. 

I wanted to try to add more details, so I brought some of the plants that I have at home, to see if they could add more dimension to the photos. This is how I set up my table: 

The plant on the right is a geranium I got from Lidl (similar to Aldi) last summer. I believe they sell this every year as a "anti-mosquito" plant, as I believe this have more citronella. On the left, we have a bonsai ficus that we also got from Lidl. It looks like a hot mess, but we'll make it work. 

At first I was concerned that the real plants would make the background look more plastic looking, but it looks quite nice. It was a bit tricky to get the right angle for the flowers to appear on the photo, but I think it looks nice. The flowers are a bit out of proportion, but I'll work it out. 

I got several shots of Victoria posing with the bonsai. Althought the final result is nice, I had to be careful if I didn't want to show the pot or the back of my desk. In fact, I did have to crop my photo to hide a few "flaws". 

I took these photos on different days, and I had to remove the vertical garden in between. So, the next day I assembled everything, I decided to stick a grey sheet of cardstock paper, both to cover the gap between the wall and the surface of the table, but also to cover the sides around the vertical garden. I went with grey, so it could look similar to a concrete wall. 

Recently we've been getting new plants left and right, and one of the latest additions is this bonsai pomegranatte tree that seems to be perfect for dolls. 

To test the pomegratte tree, I brought Asha, who has been missing from my photos for quite some time. I had to hold the doll higher, so I could get a longer shot without the pot appearing, and I'm quite happy with the result. 

Although there can still be room for improvement, so far I'm really happy with the results I'm getting. I would say that the placement of the objects and the framing of the photo are key to make the trick. 

Of course, you don't need to do things the way that I did them. If you can't  or don't want to get the vertical garden, you can use other things you might have at home:  a bamboo individual mat, a magazine cutout or anything that has an earthy tone to it. If you have a hanging plant, like an ivy, you can use it to create an outdoors illusion. 

I am planning to keep expanding on this idea in future blog posts, or at least include some "behind the scenes" info in a photo compilation. I've been thinking for quite some time to create an outdoors patio or backyard scene, that's either permanent of semi-permanent. The only issue with that it's not only that it will take me a long time to get it done, but also that currently I have no space  to store anything bulky. So, for now, this will have to do as a outdoors scene. 

Tell me what you think of this idea in the comment section. I do always pay attention to what you have to say. Will you give this a try?

I'm not sure when my next post will be up. I have a couple unfinished craft projects, so now that my photo table is empty again, I might try to finish them. Until then, I hope you're all staying safe and healthy. 

Monster Crafts. 


  1. MC, I love this idea. It looks very realistic, and also very pretty. The photos are beautiful, and the last one is my favourite. Your photos could very well be actually taken outside, so I think you can call this a big success!

    The hint of colour that the flowers give in the pictures is subtle and makes the whole even more realistic. By the way, the pomegranate bonsai is lovely. :)

    I think that your idea of creating a patio/backyard is really good, it would be perfect for your lovely dolls.

    I do have some artificial plants that I've used for doll photos in the past, I should get them out of storage! I used to have artificial grass as well, but that was out of proportion so I don't have it anymore.

    I hope you are staying safe and healthy too. I got an invitation for a first vaccine shot, but there's no open slot, so I have to wait until one becomes available to make an appointment. That's annoying.

    Enjoy the weekend!


    1. Thank you Linda! Honestly, I'm quite surprised with some of the results. I think that, because when I edit I don't just see the good shots, but also the bad ones, I get this idea in my head that the results aren't "that good". However, taking a look now I like them more than I did yesterday.

      I recently saw on a blog an incredible 1:12 backyard retreat and I'd love to recreate a simplified version in 1:6. I've also been considering making something that I could use with what I already have to create a sense of dimension, like a path with grass on the sides, or a stone wall.

      I'd really would love to see your take on this idea, with artificial plants or whatever you have at home. I hope you get your vaccine sooner than later. I don't think I'll get mine until the end of the summer, which is fair since I don't have a risk factor and I'm not working, so I can choose to stay at home.

      You too, enjoy your weekend. Hugs.

  2. You always come up with great ideas MC and this one is certainly among the best. I think bringing your doll forward when taking the shot allows more light in and should lighten the greenery in the background.

    i really like your idea of using the hanging garden, as I'm always looking for new ways to add interest to my photos, but adding more props becomes a problem of where to store them. This is the main reason for me using photo backdrops for indoor shots, they are easy to either roll up into tubes or hang on a skirt hanger.

    All your photos look like they could have been taken in a garden, so you achieved what you set out to do.
    Big hugs,

    1. Thank you Xanadu! I use a ring light for all my indoors photo, plus some natural light that comes from the window. Depending on the time of the day, I would get more or less natural light for the photos. Playing around with lightning is on my "to do" list, to see how can I get different results.

      I can definitely relate to the storage struggle, and that's why I try to make backgrounds that are easy to store. You can definitely use this idea with a printed background and place some plants in front of it to create dimension. However, your photos are already fantastic the way they are.

      Thank you so much for your kind words. Big hugs to you too.

  3. First of all, I love that you are blogging again. I miss the active blogs I follow. They are what got me to start blogging (something I need to get to on a regular basis.).

    I like the outdoors in. So good for cold, rainy or bad weather days when you wan5 an out side scene. Or good for dioramas where you want that out door effect. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Hi Jaye. I did have to take several blogging breaks due to my studies and jobs, but now I'm back full time. But since 2020 I've managed to blog at least once a month. Now that I'm done with college I'm blogging more regularly, 2-3 times per month. Plus now I have a cooking blog, which just adds to the blogging hours.

      Yes, this idea is for when the weather isn't your friend. I think it's a great idea, to add this concept to a diorama. If you have a doll room with a large window, or you have a porch scene, you can pretend there's a larger outdoors area behind.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  4. MC this is a really good idea, I've seen those artificial plants on the grid thingy in Leroy Merlin but never gave it a thought that it would work in this way! I do however have a lot of plants here, both real and artificial so I will try to set up something in my doll room. I'm unable to get out and about much at the moment as I have something wrong with my leg and am unable to walk very far, and I can't bend or kneel down, so need to take photos mostly inside or on my terraces, which can be a bit limiting, but you have inspired me to give this a go and I will hopefully update my blog at some point as I've not posted on there since the end of January!!!! I'm a terrible dolly mum!
    Big hugs from Malaga. xxx

    1. Hi Sharon! That's bad news about your leg, but I hope you will recover soon. You don't need to use the hanging garden, in fact many things used outdoors (like a privacy mat) could work. And if you already have the plants, it shouldn't be hard to set up something. Maybe you could place some plants on a table and take the photos while sitting on a chair. That way you wouldn't have to bend down or stand up for too long.

      I hope you can find some time to update your blog, it's always great to hear what everyone has been up to. These past few weeks I have been more focused on working on my own content than reading other blogs, but soon I'll find some time to keep up.

      Hugs to you too.

  5. I like your photos; I think you had a good idea. If I was going to do it, I think my biggest issue would be the lighting, although we don't have any plants, real or artificial. Having cats is part of the reason.

    1. Hi Barb! Thanks, I'm glad that you like the photos. Before I got a ring light, I used two desk lamps covered in tissue paper to difuse the light. If not, natural light can do wonders. Maybe you could be able to place a table somewhat close to a window? I do admit that plants come in handy, but other things can give an outdoors feel, so maybe you can find something like that around the house. I'm planning to do a "part 2" of this post in my balcony, which technically isn't indoors, but it's still inside the house.

  6. Ahhh, this is such a clever idea!!! And the photos look awesome!! Just the other day I was thinking of acquiring some of the smaller plants you showed here. Great ipctures, by the way!

    1. Thanks Musume. Having plants at home can come in handy for doll photography. Thanks, I'm glad you like my photos.

  7. This looks so good MC!!!!

    The lighting and everything really adds to that outdoor effect. Such good options like you say for those times when we want to photograph our dolls but for whatever reason can't get outside.

    I didn't realise that you could buy just one square of the vertical garden stuff from Leroy Merlin! That's so cool and gives me some ideas! :D

    Have you seen the purple 'Jardín vertical tropical lila y verde Tenax' on the website? It's so pretty and we were actually thinking to get it for our roof garden some day.

    You've inspired me to do some more toy and doll photography after a long time, thank you! :D

  8. Thanks Cuteek! I'm glad that you like my photos. I don't have a great outdoors space I can use, so I had to create my own.

    They had the lilac Tenax garden in the store, but in person it looked quite dull and I didn't think it would look good on camera. If I had to pick one to decorate my house, I would have gone with the ivy one, but for doll photos I thought this would look better.

    I'm glad to hear that I've inspired you to take some doll photos. I'm looking forward to see them on your blog or on Twitter.

    Have a nice weekend.

  9. I have not seen garden squares like this over here in Sweden. That is one great idea! And a amazing way to create depth into the photos too with plants! Here at home we have a little garden, but it is not same as at our cottage, where there is forest as far as ones eyes can see. And lake. But here at home I could use this way. I have seen some use pictures from magazines, but I have not really figured out that.
    Your photos are beautiful!

    1. Hi Niina! If you already have a garden, you can use small plants to create depth too. I didn't know this thing existed until very recently, but there are other options out there. There are some privacy mats that mimic english ivy, so that could work too. If you want to get something similar to this, you can check Bauhaus (I believe you have it in Sweden). They have lots of vertical gardens, at least in Spain, and way nicer than the ones in Leroy Merlin. Just ask an employee, because when you see them in store they look nothing that what I just showed.

      Thanks, I'm glad that you like my photos. Hope you'll get better soon!

  10. This is a BIG YAAASSS for me because I really love plants and green somehow gives a cheerful, lively feel to the photos. I love your lighting, too - I can't believe you are taking them from the comforts of your worktable!

    I once thought of making a similar background after seeing it in a Hollywood red carpet event of sorts, but didn't pursue ;) Maybe because back then, pre-covid, I can always go out and bring my dolls to a nearby garden park :D

    Looking forward to seeing how this background of yours evolve!

    much love,

    1. First, sorry that I couldn't reply earlier. I got sick and then I got distracted trying to finish a new blog post.

      I'm glad that you like the photos. I do agree, green makes the photos and the dolls look more "alive", and it's a lovely pop of color. I did see this type of plant being used for a red carpet scene, and I thougt it looked really cool. Now that the world is going back to normal, maybe you won't need this, but it comes in handy when something ruins your plans of an outdoors photoshoot.

      I have plans to keep adding to this background, so stay tuned. Thank you so much for your kind words.


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