Photographer finds fame with quirky photo shoots of dolls


The Washington photographer stages scenes from Star Wars, Stranger Things and more.

Screengrabs from @5hensandacockatiel and @5hensmo Instagram page

Photographer Sydney Rose Paulsen shoots people for work — and American Girl dolls for fun. It doesn’t matter if her subjects are in the flesh or vinyl — she invests the same amount of time and care into both.

Paulsen, who lives in Puyallup, Washington, has gained nearly 60,000 followers on Instagram thanks to her quirky creations and scenes with her American Girl dolls. She always tries to tell stories through her work, according to her bio.

“I love being able to tell something through a doll that has no emotion, it’s just vinyl,” Paulsen told King5. “I really try to get it as close as I can. And a lot of that comes down to editing, color work, and trying to get the image as close to the original as possible.”

Many of her shoots are inspired by TV shows, celebrities and movies including Stranger Things, Star Wars and Harry Potter.

Paulsen even recreated her own wedding photos with the dolls as a sentimental nod to her hobby, which she told King5 began when she was gifted an American Girl doll at age 6.

American Girl was founded in 1986 when the company began making historical character dolls that are featured in their own American Girl books, according to the company’s website. Over 36 million American Girl dolls have been sold since the birth of the brand.

Paulsen’s mom helps her daughter with designing the costumes and the staging of the dolls, which can include backgrounds of beaches, rivers and mountains depending on the shot Paulsen is trying to capture.

In one scene inspired by the film “Parent Trap,” just tying string around the doll stage took over an hour, Paulsen’s mother wrote on Instagram.

Paulsen’s followers are every bit obsessed with the photo shoots as Paulsen herself.

“Your setups are so gorgeous,” one person wrote.

“You truly have a talent for bringing the dolls to life in every photo,” another said. “I look forward to all your posts.”

Alison Cutler is a National Real Time Reporter for the Southeast at McClatchy. She graduated from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University and previously worked for The News Leader in Staunton, VA, a branch of USAToday.

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