West Island woman finds passion and community in doll photography

Myriam Boyd, 22, is a doll photographer. She creates elaborate scenes and styles for her dolls, photographs them, then posts her shots on her Instagram account.

Myriam Boyd, 22, started taking pictures of her dolls on a whim

Myriam Boyd has become friends with people around the world as a result of doll photography. (Kate McKenna/CBC)

When Myriam Boyd first laid eyes on American Girl dolls, she thought they were creepy.

Now the dolls have become her passion.

Boyd, 22, is a doll photographer. She creates elaborate scenes and styles for her dolls, photographs them, then posts her shots on her Instagram account.

She's tapped into an international community of doll photographers she didn't know existed, and says the hobby has changed her life.

"I love it," she said. "I had no idea if it was going to work or not. I just went with it."

Through her doll photography, she's travelled across the country, to the United States and also given a seminar at a bookstore in Ottawa. She does several shoots per week, styling her dolls in a variety of clothing and settings.

With the dolls, you're free to do what you want.- Myriam Boyd

Her journey into doll photography started in 2014, when she was clearing out her closet and considering whether to donate her old dolls.

She decided against it. The dolls didn't creep her out anymore, and she thought they were a bit too expensive to give away.
Myriam Boyd photographs her doll outside her home in Beaconsfield, Que. (Kate McKenna/CBC)

Boyd comes from a family of artists. She decided to take the dolls and create an Instagram account dedicated to styling and photographing them.

When she started posting her images online, other doll photographers started following her work. She's created real-life friendships with other photographers, both in Canada and abroad.

She wanted to take her hobby to the next level, so she took photography courses at local CEGEPS. 

Myriam Boyd styled this doll for a winter shoot in Ste-Adele, Que. (Myriam Boyd)

What is it about dolls?

Boyd thinks she's attracted to doll photography because she can easily manipulate the dolls to be in the clothes and poses she likes.

"With the dolls, you're free to do what you want," she said. "You can turn their head, you can play with their hair you can do what you want to make the photo yours."

She's hoping to inspire people with her art, and says she hopes being outspoken about her hobby will give anyone considering doll photography a nudge in that direction.

She says she's aware that some people might find it odd to see adults taking photos of dolls — but she wants to fight the stigma.

"I think definitely people are nervous to put themselves out there, especially when it's using a doll and using toys from like their youth because usually, when you're older, you don't have your toys anymore," she said.

"Once you you put yourself out there and you're confident with it and you enjoy what you do, I don't think there's a problem."

Myriam Boyd uses dolls from the brand American Girls. She buys their clothes online. (Kate McKenna/CBC)

A burgeoning community

There are nearly half a million Instagram posts tagged #agig — a hashtag specifically for photographers taking pictures of the brand American Girl dolls.

Hundreds of Instagram pages are devoted specifically to photographing dolls.

Boyd said she's witnessed the community expand since she became involved in doll photography four years ago.

"It's getting more and more mainstream," she said.

Inspiration from the environment

Boyd has styled shoots in places ranging from her own front yard to downtown Montreal.

She has a large wardrobe for her dolls that she keeps in her closet. She tries to pair what they're wearing to their surroundings.

"It's a lot of brainstorming," she said, adding that she draws inspiration from other photographers in Montreal.

Follow Boyd on Instagram at mimib.dolls.