Taking photos of your quilts has become an integral part of the creative process. Whether you want to share your creation with your quilty friends on social media, submit photos for a quilt show or just document quilts you have given as gifts, having nice photos is important. You put all that time, effort and money into making the quilt, and you don’t want blurry photos!
Now, I must admit, I love taking photos of quilts. It adds another fun creative piece to the quiltmaking process for me. I am hoping this love is contagious and that some of you might catch it! Here are my best tips and tricks for taking photos of quilts.
Use What You Have
With all the technology out there today, there are infinite possibilities for cameras. But you do not need an expensive camera to take great photos. A point-and-shoot camera or your cellphone will work just fine!
Make sure your quilt is camera ready! Trim stray threads and iron stubborn creases. These things stick out like a sore thumb in photos.
Grab any supplies you may need. Items that could be helpful are large binder clips, clothespins, clothesline, old sheets and sewing pins.
Make sure your camera has an ample charge and pack some backup batteries. Be sure to turn off the date stamp feature on your camera – we don’t want anything distracting in front of your beautiful quilt!
Unless you have expensive lighting equipment, nothing beats natural light. Get outside and use the sun. Drape your quilt over a railing or pin it to fence. Be careful though! If your quilt has a lot of light fabrics, too much sun can blow out your quilt. Try shooting in the morning or on a slightly cloudy day.
If you have a light-colored backing and you worry about getting it dirty, put an old sheet down first, and then place your quilt on top. Too cold to go outside? Find the room in your house with the most natural light and snap a few photos there.
Pay attention to where the sun is. If the sun is behind the quilt, it may shine through and illuminate the backing fabric and seam allowances. Keep the sun in front of the quilt or behind a cloud.
To get a perfect straight-on photo of your quilt, you will need to be parallel to it. Hang the quilt vertically and position your camera in the center of the quilt. If your quilt is distorted and looks more like a trapezoid than a rectangle, your camera is either too high or too low.
Choose backgrounds that will enhance your quilt. Very busy backgrounds will distract from the quilt – you don’t want that! If the background color is too similar to the quilt binding and borders, the quilt will blend in. Try to find a neutral background or a complementary color.
Staying still while snapping photos is very, very important, especially when using a cell phone. If you have a tripod for your camera, dust it off and use it! No tripod? No worries! Anchor your elbows into your stomach and take a deep breath. Focus your camera and snap a photo. This little trick works for me on those cold winter days when I get the shivers!
Once you have a nice photo of the entire quilt, take some shots of your favorite details. Love the texture created by the quilting? Fold the quilt and take a photo from an angle to show that. Love the binding? Roll the quilt and take a photo of the end. Love the label? Fold over a corner and snap a photo. Have a neat pieced back? Flip the quilt over and take a photo. Fussy cut an adorable fabric? Zoom in and document it. Is the quilt teeny-tiny? Add an object for scale. You can never have too many photos!
Add the Recipient
Did you make this quilt for your new grandson or your daughter’s wedding present? Snap a few photos with them and quilt. Bonus – it is much more fun to talk to someone while snapping photos!
Documenting your quilts should be as much fun as making them! Luckily for us, in this digital age, if you try something and don’t love how it looks, erase it and try again!
Now grab your cell phone, point-and shoot or DSLR and take some photos of those gorgeous quilts!
If you take photos of your Quiltmaker projects, be sure to share them with us! Email photos to firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to seeing them!
All the quilts and photos in this post are from Sassafras Lane Designs.
For all those quilt and photographer enthusiasts, why not combine your two passions? I designed a camera quilt that appeared in our Fall 2014 issue of Quilts from Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks, named Say Cheese! Take a photo of your quilt from this pattern and send it over our way!