Doll Extras

Jewel’s Guide to Making a Photo Story

Hello, doll lovers! I haven’t really been able to go outside lately because my allergies are really bad, but today I thought it would be fun to show you the elements I use when making a doll photo story! I’ve actually learned more about the “why” of my methods through learning about story lately, and I can now dissect my photo stories more properly. Hopefully, this can help you make some of your own photo stories. 🙂



First, I usually start by figuring out which doll I want to use. I strongly encourage exploring the personalities of all your dolls, and a great way to do that is through a story. I try to pick dolls that need more time on the blog or that need their personality explored more. In the photostory Don’t “Leaf” Me I chose Caroline and Melody because I thought they had been underused.


I also need to decide on a plot.

A lot of my plots tend to have a humorous side to them. Even if they are mainly serious, there is usually some sort of humor in my stories. That is just a side-effect of my personality and my love for humor, but humor is also a great form of entertainment and can bring levity to almost any situation. That does not mean all stories have to have humor though especially when they are specifically meant to be serious, and that is something I struggle with. XD

When using dolls I always have to think of a plot I can actually construct with photos. In my recent Photo Series: The Treasure of Lady Travier, I had to make sure the action scenes were believable enough (a very HARD thing to do with American Girl dolls) and I had to make sure I had the right props.

There should be lots of conflict: the more conflict the more interesting. The conflict should propel the story forward.

Theme and Character:

Theme and character go hand in hand.

When constructing a photo story I tend to lean toward a positive change arc (there are other kinds) for the character and a lesson-like theme. This is because I want the story to have a positive/feel good result on my audience. Mckenna, in Mckenna’s Dilemma, ended up embracing the theme that doing different things and spending time with loved ones is good. The conflict of the plot also should enhance the theme, like Mckenna’s conflict of unwillingness to try something new goes against the theme and enforces her change arc.


Usually, I just shoot my photo stories with the portrait setting on my camera because there are a lot of photos I take, and I just don’t care for tweaking the settings again and again. I then use the free program PhotoScapeX to edit my photos. Sometimes I edit my photos very specifically to the mood of the photo story or scene with different filters and other techniques as well as just making them look better.

My Improvement:

When I first started my blog, I did not think of story as I do now. For example, let’s see how my first photo story met the standards: Happy April Fools.

Doll: Well, I used a lot of dolls (which is fine) but I did not really get to zero in on the personality of any of them. Blek. I guess Kit was the main character. 

Plot: It was funny... The conflict was not knowing what the Kit was going to do. 

Theme and Character: There was basically no character development and the theme I suppose would be don’t be quick to assume???

Photos: They were way-over edited.

Ok, so it was somewhat of a story, but it was mainly a funny skit with no character arc, which in my opinion makes for less of an interesting story. I may have meant that or not. Skits are fun to do ever so often, but this is now much less of a photo story in my eyes.

Now let us check out Caroline Becomes Cool, one of the most popular posts on this blog:

Doll: I used Caroline as well as others that needed more exploration.

Plot: The conflict was between Luci and Julie and then there was more conflict (yay!) with why Caroline was suddenly acting according to Julie’s definition of “cool.” Also, it was quite funny. 

Theme and Character: Julie learned the theme that people are not to be shoved aside just because they are different and that those differences should actually be embraced. 

Photos: They were much better. 🙂

So, the theme was a bit blunt (maybe a bit preachy), but at least it had a really nice statement. It was much better than from where I started, but I still have so much to improve.

I am learning a lot about story and I am excited to implement what I have learned in better ways into my photo stories.

Do you like making photo stories? Which of mine is your favorite? Chat with me in the comments! Bye, for now, everyone!








  • Sarah

    Wow, I never really thought about how much went on ‘behind the scenes’. Those were really helpful tips. I’ve never done a photo story before but now I want to make one.

  • Katie

    Photo stories are the bomb! (< LOL look at me using early 2000’s terms XD) They are definitely one of my favorite things to post, however I only have a few because it takes me awhile to write them. I love all your photo stories! And actually really enjoyed Happy April Fools, I remember showing it to my mom and we were both laughing XD I would definitely say my photo story style is very humorous (especially when Molly’s involved), but I’ve also done more serious stories such as The Nutcracker, and usually has a lesson that the main doll learns. So kinda simular to your style 🙂 great post as always, Jewel!
    -Katie 🙂

    • Jewel

      Hehe! Totally! Yes, they take the longest to make. Thank you! Yes!!! I love the humor in your stories, and just your photo stories in general! Thanks a bunch!


      • Katie

        They do, and I’m an over perfectionist and have to rewrite a sentence five times before I’m happy with it XD Thank you! That truly means a lot to me 😀 I’m hoping to have an Easter story out and return to blogging soon, hopefully there won’t be any more bumps in the road to prevent it 🙂
        -Katie 🙂

        • Jewel

          Yes! I’m a perfectionist too. SIGH. You’re super welcome! 🙂 Sounds great! Yes, I hope all goes well. <3


  • justAG

    I love your photo stories, thanks so much for the tips! 🙂 Somehow I feel like I can type up a fairly decent story (IMHO), and take fairly decent pictures of my dolls (again, IMHO). But I just can’t seem to merge the two. It gets so much harder with dolls, but maybe that’s just me?


    • Jewel

      Thank you so much!!! <3 Oh yes! I’m right there with you! Putting the two together is more work than it seems! Yes, it is difficult with dolls because it actually limits story telling capability, plus when you take pictures you sometimes have to pose them in weird and certain ways.


  • thehuman14

    I love to make and read everyone’s photo stories! I always feel like my stories are a bit too obvious in the lesson/theme sector but I’m finding those are the stories I like to make and I’m just going to roll with it. 🙂 Great post!
    ~ The Human

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