Guys, I have a really fun feature for you today! Do you happen to remember this post about a Charleston beach day that Mitch and I had this past spring?
Well. Last week, I was tagged in this Instagram photo, and my jaw dropped. Like, what?!
Let me introduce you to my new friend Sydney Paulsen. Based out of Seattle, she runs the IG account @5hensandacockatiel, and she’s basically all my childhood dreams personified. 😉 Of course, after I saw the photo, I immediately messaged her to get her story because I was absolutely in awe of her work! (She’s also recreated photos of my friend Carly, which I’ve included at the bottom of this post. Ah-mah-zing.)
Sydney told me that when she was young, she fell in love with American Girl, and became wildly passionate about history and telling stories with her dolls. She spent her days listening to AG audiobooks and dreaming about jumping back into the various time periods the characters were from–as I’m sure so many of you can relate to. (I, for one, remember being heartbroken that I didn’t live in the Victorian era.) When she was around 11 or 12, her friends started putting their dolls away… yet Sydney’s heart still wanted to hold on.
Through a “lovely happenstance,” as she put it, she ended up discovering a doll photography blog written from the perspective of the dolls. The photos looked amazingly realistic, and she knew then that she wanted to create something similar!
A couple of years later, Sydney bought a camera and started her Instagram account. She loved the work. Yes, she was a bit of a perfectionist and would sometimes feel frustrated when a photo didn’t come out exactly as she’d envisioned it would. But she kept trying to make the next photo better than the last, and this clearly paid off.
Working with American Girl
After graduating with her Associate in Arts in 2016, Sydney took a “gap year,” and devoted herself to photography and exploring whether she wanted to make it into a career. And last year, American Girl contacted her and asked if she’d help promote the newest contemporary character, Z Yang–who, in her stories, is also a photographer from Seattle! AG flew to her house and documented the enter trip. You can see the video here. SO COOL, right?! Needless to say, it was a dream come true for Sydney.
Creating a career
From there, she launched her photography company, Sydney Rose Studios. While “a few human photos sneak their way in” from time to time, she’s happiest photographing the dolls and other still life–and she’s always up for a challenge.
So how does she do it?!
Sydney is obviously insanely talented, but she also has someone else on the team! Ninety-five percent of the outfits, accessories and props in the photos are created by her mom, who’s equally as talented.
“There’s no way I’d be able to make a career out of this without her support and ingenuity,” Sydney says.
Before I share more of Sydney’s work, I want to direct you to her Etsy shop. Wouldn’t her prints be absolutely perfect in a little girl’s room? Or the cutest present for your sister, best friend or mom? (Whoever you “played AG” with growing up!) The best part is that Sydney accepts personalized jobs. If, for example, you have a special childhood photo, she’ll recreate the scene for you. (!) I’m already trying to figure out what my favorite photo of Noodle and Emma is, because Emma is currently obsessed with her Bitty Baby and I think a framed print would make for the best holiday gift!
This is Carly! ^ More pics of her below, too.
Here are other images that were inspired by the Charleston blog post, along with a selection of Sydney’s favorite work. I’ve included some of the originals, too, so you can see the attention to detail. (I have no words.) The ones from “Stranger Things” kill me!
Hope you enjoy, and a huge thanks goes out to Sydney for helping me put this post together. :) Girl, you rock!