Sydney, a self taught photographer living just outside of Seattle, grew up with a love for American Girl dolls. In 2013, she found her niche when she combined her passion for American Dolls and photography and launched her popular instagram account, @5hensandacockatiel.
In 2017, Sydney was asked by American Girl to help launch their contemporary character, Z Yang. She also worked with AMC TV’s The Walking Dead to promote their Funk-o-POP line. Outside of these collaborations, she has worked with several other doll clothing and merchandise companies as a brand representative, resulting in a feature in a New York Times article showcasing doll photography. Sydney is at her happiest and most fulfilled when she is telling doll-sized stories through her photographs. Her creativity and success in telling stories with each photo keeps her engaged behind the camera.
Mini & Me Collaboration:
With the release of our NEW collection we immediately thought of Sydney and knew she would capture our vision in a magical way. This August she flew from Seattle to Brooklyn, NY to make our Mini & Me dreams come true.
Her ability to connect with our 8 models and their mini’s (dolls) made this hot summer photo shoot a total success. Sydney is obviously insanely talented, but she also has other key players on the team! Her talented brother and mother are a huge asset to her beautiful work. Get lost in our shop and experience her story telling first hand.
Here are images of Sydney’s favorite work, make sure to visit her insta page @5hensandacockatiel! It’s clear her attention to detail, Amazing. Hope you enjoy, and a huge thanks goes out to Sydney for being so brilliant and sweet.
One on One with Sydney
I'm actually not much of a city person; I enjoy them, but small towns are what truly speak to me! One of my favorite places is a little spot in Oregon called Brownsville. It's the sweetest town with the loveliest people, and I feel entirely at home there!
Do you have any pets?
Yes! One feisty little rooster who looks as if he belongs in a magical world. He loves to follow me around the yard and is a bit of a snuggler (though he doesn't like to admit it).
What was your first doll?
The American Girl character, Kirsten Larson. She was given to me by my grandma for Christmas fifteen years ago, and I'll always remember the pure, warming happiness I felt when I opened that box.
How many dolls do you own now?
Around 45! I actually haven't counted in quite some time. The thought overwhelms me a bit, haha!
Definitely doing it! It astonishes me that I've been able to turn my passion for dolls into a career. I love being able to convey emotions from inanimate objects and show the relationship between a girl and her doll. I also have the most supportive family and friends who always let me bring my camera to whatever we're doing. Having that freedom to constantly practice new ideas on those closest to me really helps me stretch my ability.
If I could try anything, though, I'd love to work on a few films as a unit still photographer. They're the person who photographs actors, directors, and the crew on set for publicity materials. I've always been fascinated by behind the scenes photos, and being able to take those shots myself would be an absolute dream.
Do you have a favorite shoot? (Besides Mini & Me!)
Oooh, fun question! I always love recreating scenes from movies with my dolls. My mom is an exquisite seamstress and set designer, so any project I work on with her is fantastic. Some of my favorite scenes we've recreated have been from Stranger Things, The Parent Trap, Harry Potter, and Stand by Me.
What Camera do you use?
A Canon 5D Mark III, though I used a Rebel T3i until a couple of years ago.
Favorite Mini & Me doll outfit?
I adore Belle's and Aurora's equally! I so wish I could have had those dresses for myself growing up. I would have lived in them!
Advice to beginners in photography?
I watched a fantastic video essay a while ago about seeing what kind of art you want to create, but not knowing how to get there. It's important to understand that you're going to get frustrated at times, but if you continue to ask questions, keep going, and challenge yourself, your growth will become more and more apparent. One goal I've set for myself is to always tell a story with my photos. Having that in mind never fails to keeps me on track of where I want to be!