Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Quilt Photography

Sometimes I just need to get out a quilt and practice taking photos.  Quilt photography isn't as easy as the "big girls" in quilting make it look.  Staging, lighting and the angle of the shot can all be very tricky.  So today I took a break from the computer and studio to have a little quilt photo fun with the new fence in the back yard.  The picture below isn't the first picture taken.  It was about #20-ish.  Pastel quilts are the hardest to photograph.  They tend to wash out and look very light.  My Turnabout Tulip quilt is such a pretty quilt and I think this photo is the best one out of about 50 taken.

The next favorite is basically the same shot taken from the other side.
I often toy with the idea of hiring a photographer for my pattern covers and marketing images.  That idea is quickly tossed out when I start looking for an affordable photographer in my area.  I keep hoping someone new will have good rates as a way to build business but so far I've not found anyone.  Then comes the search for a real camera instead of using my cell phone camera.  It's wasted time because I don't want to take a class to learn how to use an expensive camera.  The best thing to do is just learn to use what I have until I win the lottery.  Of course you need to play to win so the odds of me winning isn't good.  I buy a ticket about once a year.    

I think this photo shoot is turning out pretty good, don't you?  This wasn't supposed to be a good day for quilt photos.  The rule of thumb for outside quilt photos is....Take pictures on a sunny day between midday and late afternoon.  You want the quilt to face the sun or have the sun directly overhead.  Sometimes taking a photo in the shade will help with the washing out of color.  These pictures were taken right after the rain stopped, still cloudy with no sunshine, between 3pm -3:30 pm.  Maybe pastel fabrics photograph better on cloudy days?  I should have photographed one of the brighter quilts too.  I can't  believe I'm going to say this but...I hope tomorrow is overcast so I can do a little more experimenting with color and lighting.

It's all about play and learning what works and what doesn't.  In the image below I was trying to get a close up of the fabrics.  The Honeysuckle hanging over the top of the quilt added a little interest to the photo.

This one does nothing for me.  Boring is the first word that comes to mind.

And then there was this experiment.  Nothing good going on here other than the color is still really good.

Of course what's photo shoot without a little photo bombing.  If I wanted her in the photo she would been hiding.  She knows mommy gives out treats when she sits pretty for the camera.  This time she was lured out of the photo with a treat.  HA!  Smart girl!  By this point I was ready to call it wrap and go upload the quilt photos to the computer so I could see how they turned out.  I learned a lot and will do another test tomorrow.

It was back to the studio to search for some old quilt pattern notes for a quilt I made years ago.  In my search I stumble upon this binder divider I made a few years ago.  Oh my goodness!  How cute is this!  I forgot all about it.  Well,  now I want to make another but it will need to wait, there's things on the to-do list still yet to be done.

Before heading back to the computer I need to trim up my daily batch of HST's.   I've been pretty good about doing a few everyday.  Somedays I trim 2 days worth so I can skip the next day.  If you missed the blog post about the daily HST trimming you can read more about it here

Word of the Year.  Moving things or me!

Turnabout Tulips quilt pattern is available in my shop in both PDF and Traditional Mailed.


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  1. What a gorgeous quilt! I love the colors and the quilting. I think the second photo is the best one and the one folded on the fence really shows the beautiful quilting the best. Since you mentioned it had just rained, were you worried about the quilt getting dirty? I would love to see a photo of the entire quilt. If you could throw it on the grass and stand above it to take the photo (maybe climb up on a ladder to do that), that would be a good photo. I am no expert, but I did take photography in college back when we developed our own photos in a dark room. My brother is a great photographer and has had his work published. He lives in CA or I would send him your way to take photos, lol! I always take my photos in the shade in the early morning, or late in the afternoon in the shade. we get lots of strong sun here.

  2. Ok I get the the idea of the "beauty shot" for the quilt.
    I know that its a lot harder then it looks to bring out the details that make each project special and stand out.
    I disagree about theflat shot that you called boring. It show such lovely detail on the quilting and how much that adds to the overall design and flow of the quilt.
    To many times there are a series of lovely draped quilt and no real good shot of the quilt as a whole to get a real view of the completed quilt.

  3. Your quilt is lovely. I agree with Rebecca and Daryl about the flat shots. I like to be able to see what the whole quilt looks like, but the artistic shots are nice too. When it was time for my son's senior photos I was disappointed that it was an overcast day. I was surprised when the photographer said that kind of day is better than a sunny day. I'm not a photographer but maybe that is true of non-human photography also?

  4. I've been doing a bit of quilt photography research lately, too. I took an all day virtual workshop at QuiltCon Together with Julie of @BuiltaQuilt that had lots of tips and suggestions for getting good quilt photos, also found some photo dos and don'ts from several other sources that I can't remember right now... Several teachers are saying that you do NOT need a fancy camera; just your smartphone camera is enough with minimal edits in free editing software (such as increasing exposure and removing color cast, maybe also using the Crop tool to get nicer proportions or to remove distracting elements). But the frustrating thing has been when two different tutorials or workshops give directly contradictory advice, and what you brought up about the best outdoor lighting time for quilt photos is an excellent example of that! The more shady and overcast, the better has been my personal experience. Another important consideration is what are you trying to show off in the photo? A great overall shot of the whole quilt and its colors and design are great for a pattern cover photo, but those shots don't necessarily show the quilting designs at all. One teacher recommended taking photos indoors with the windows closed and then color correcting to adjust for the yellow cast of incandescent lighting, her reasoning being that we can't always wait for the perfect day/lighting outdoors and if you're taking photos inside, it's much easier to color correct if there is only one light source (indoor lights) rather then a blend of light sources (like sunlight from a window on the left side of the photo, but lamp lighting on the right half of the photo). Anyway, I'm still reading everything I can and trying out every suggestion. If it works for me, I keep it, and if it doesn't work for me, I move on to the next tutorial! However, I will say that I noticed a huge improvement in my photos when I upgraded my phone about a year ago to the iPhone 11 Pro Max. There's a newer 12 Pro Max that's supposed to be even better, but that means the price of the 11s has come way down, too. Just throwing that out there in case you're looking for an excuse to upgrade your smartphone because the camera advances are amazing, and you get instantly better photos without having to learn a whole new complicated camera! I think your fence photos look great, by the way.

  5. Cloudy bright is a good time for photography without heavy shadowing adn too light in other areas. beautiful quilt!


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