Dollhouse Decorating – Take Better Pictures For About $60

We work hard to make the dollhouse miniature items we love. But sometimes, not as much care is devoted to presenting them on the Internet, where good photographs are critical in selling our wares. That’s a shame, because about $60.00 worth of lights and a folding table top “studio” is all you need to take better pictures, no matter what kind of digital camera you own.


To photograph dollhouse miniatures, from small objects in 1/12 scale to grand Victorian palaces, the lighting set-up should be your first concern. A Table Top Photo Studio sells for about $40.00 online. I use one a card table near a sunny window, careful not to let direct sunlight hit to object. This minimizes unwanted shadows. An old gooseneck reading lamp with a daylight-balanced compact fluorescent bulb hovers above the “studio,” if supplemental light is needed. Cost? $8.00 for the lamp at Goodwill; $12.00 for the fluorescent bulb could find.

Alternate Set Up

I guess my mini movie set works very well, because I get questions on whether pictures I take are of a real room or a dollhouse. Actually, it’s two pieces of foam core taped at a right angle. I cut in a 1/12 scale casement window, paint the walls and trim the colors needed, then “dress” the set with 1/12 scale furniture and accessories. On the open side of the set, the camera is free to take wide shots of the whole room or zoom in on individual pieces.

The Camera

Any low-end digital camera, like the Nikon CoolPix or a Canon Powershot, work just fine. They really are glorified snapshot cameras, in the best sense of the word. You can point and shot, and if there is enough light, be assured of getting a clear picture.

Most of these cameras have a macro setting, even macro zoom. This is a plus because in small object photography, you want to have the effect of getting in close so that you can see detail. Without a macro setting, getting too close to the object will cause distortion of the image. In that case stay further back, build up the light level as much as possible, then crop the photo tight in whatever program you are using to download pictures from your camera to your computer.

Shooting Through Glass

Try to avoid it. But if you must, watch out for glare, lights reflecting back at you, or your own reflection with the camera in front of your face. Although, that could be an interesting self-portrait.

The End Result

There are three main types of small object photography: catalogue, fashion and art. To sell dollhouse miniature products online, catalogue style is best. Catalogue pictures give you fact; art and fashion go for emotion. Our customer wants to clearly see what is being offered for sale and is probably not interested in sexy lighting or selective focus.

More Information

This article gives a quick overview of small object photography for dollhouse miniatures. If you want to go deeper into the subject, there is plenty information available on the web. Use “small object photography tutorial” in your browser’s search field, and you will find as much information as you need, short of becoming a professional photographer.