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Polina Plotnikova discovers it’s a small world

The FRPS Fellow explains how her love of control has influenced her latest series




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Known for her fine art flower photography, Moscow-born photographer Polina Plotnikova FRPS runs photography workshops for the RPS. She gained her Fellowship from the Society in 2020 and has won recognition including a gold medal in the RHS Chelsea Flower Show photography competition.

Her latest project Small World, focusing on contemporary and period dolls, has allowed her to work with another of her passions to create engaging compositions in miniature.

“I love to be 100% in charge of every aspect of my pictures, so studio photography suits me because I am in full control.

“Ball-joint dolls are pieces of art. They are fully moveable and posable, and for me, this object of photography derived naturally from my love of still life photography. The dolls don’t fidget, they don’t talk back at you, they do exactly what you say, they don’t need to check the Instagram account every five minutes. So, unlike human models, they are perfect models.

“I love working on projects. I always have some kind of portfolio in mind. It could be a small body of work on a particular subject or colour scheme, it could be anything, but I do love not taking a single shot, [rather] incorporating it into some sort of visual story.

“I love the stage of shooting. Pretty much every picture is well-defined in my head long before I start assembling the setup. In the studio it works more easily because I’m more in control of my environment. I think about all the details, the costumes, the type of lighting. It might take me some time to figure out the best way to make a particular scene.

“I do not play with dolls – they play for me. In a way they are just assuming the role of the character I am assigning to them. Just by using minuscule movements I’m able to make a flick of the wrist or a slight incline of the head that creates completely different emotions. 

“The dolls are in the range of what is called one fourth of the human size. The female dolls are between 40-45cm, the guys are between 49-50cm, so they are relatively small. You need to keep in mind how the small objects, which are mimicking human shape, will behave with your camera or lens. You need to keep an eye on perspective – you don’t want to distort the shapes.

“I have a feeling I’m not going to stop buying dolls. I’m not obsessed with designer clothes, bags or shoes, but these are the things I’m willing to spend money on – photography-wise they are very rewarding.”


Follow the Small World series by Polina Plotnikova FRPS on her website or Instagram.

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