You’ve spent hours cutting, ironing, sewing, basting, and quilting.. and now it’s time to do that beautiful quilt justice by taking some glamor shots.
Quilts can be really difficult to photograph, for a lot of reasons! They are usually pretty tall, which requires space (a lot of people choose outside). They’re also thin and easily blow around (ahh the dreaded windy quilt shot).
It can also be really hard to know which settings to use on your camera and how to edit them to POP! Now keep in mind, I’m not a professional photographer, but I’ve learned a LOT from just taking a ton of quilt pictures.
This blog post will go through all of these so your next quilt pictures can shine.
Camera + Equipment
You really don’t need a super expensive camera to get great shots. Iphones or phones with portrait mode can take really amazing close-up shots of stitching, quilting or fabric choices.
For shots further away, use a landscape mode or make sure to manually focus on your quilt by tapping on it while it’s on the screen. For nicer cameras, like a DSLR or mirrorless, I usually put mine on auto and make sure the quilt is in focus.
Experiment with different settings: Try out different camera settings, such as aperture, shutter speed, and ISO, to see how they affect your photos. Shooting in RAW can also increase your ability to edit pictures later on.
Investing in a nice camera is a great way to improve your quilt photography, be on the lookout for used cameras that have good reviews.
I use a Sony A6400 Mirrorless camera with a few different lenses depending on how close my quilt will be. Honestly, it’s been a treat to use a nice camera after taking pictures on my phone for so long!
While it's not necessary to have the most expensive camera and lenses, having good quality equipment can make a difference in the quality of your photos
Location, Location, Location
This is probably the most important aspect of your quilt photography. When taking pictures outside make sure to pick a time that has soft lighting (early or late in the day) when there aren’t any harsh shadows or glare from the sun.
It’s important to face the right direction when you are taking pictures, make sure that the quilt isn’t in direct sun which will overexpose the colors of the fabric.
I prefer to take quilt pictures inside, as I can control the lighting much more efficiently. I use soft box lighting and I tape or pin my quilt top to a large light grey wall in my living room.
This is great for a few reasons: I can smooth out the fabric to great a cover shot, and I can close/open blinds (increase/decrease lighting).
Props for Your Quilt Pictures: Adding Dimension
Composition is the arrangement of elements in a photograph. Learning about the different compositional techniques, such as the rule of thirds, can help improve the overall look of your photos.
This means taking a step back from your shot and seeing what is in the shot. Adding a close element and a further element creates dimension to your pictures.
Also adding pops of green or other plants can help the picture pop.
Your quilt is the star but don’t forget to have effective backup dancers in the shot!
The more you photograph, the more comfortable you will become with your camera and the better you will get. Really this is the key to everything in life.
Practicing often will help you recognize what is good vs bad lighting, what props look good and where, which colors to use in the background of the shot, etc.
One of the best ways to get great quilt pictures is making sure there is plenty of indirect light. Soft lighting is key, so that the colors of the fabric are accurate instead of shadowed or overbright.
I use a mixture of lighting (that I ordered from Amazon) and take my pictures during midday to get the best light in my house.
Learn From Other Quilters
Look at the work of other quilters or quilt designers and see what you can learn from their compositions and techniques. You can also seek out online photography communities or take a photography class to learn from more experienced photographers.
You don’t need to have an in-depth knowledge of cameras or photography to slowly increase the quality of your pictures, you just need to be dedicated to improvement.
Photography is a constantly evolving art form, and there is always more to learn. Keep up to date on new techniques and trends by reading photography books, magazines, and blogs, and attending photography events.
Editing Your Quilt Photos
Editing your photos can help bring out the best in them. Learn about photo editing software and how to use it to enhance your photos.
My favorite app to use is Adobe Lightroom; it is really easy to learn and has a great selection of presets to use that immediately improve your quilt pictures.
The quilt presets that I use are these ones HERE by Flourish.
If you’re taking pictures to post on social media, using a consistent preset for your quilt pictures can create consistency for your personal or business branding.
The only real way to get better at taking great quilt pictures is to take a lot of them, and to learn from each shoot. Ask yourself these questions:
- What could I have changed about this composition to be more interesting or balanced?
- How is the lighting compared to some of my favorite quilters’ quilt pictures?
- Does the background enhance or take away from my quilt top?
- What can I change for next time to get better pictures? (ex: lighting, background, timing)
I know quilt photography can be challenging (fingertips, wind, complaining husbands), but they are possible and even fun! Just remember to practice! If there’s one tip that I wish I would have learned earlier?
Do you have any other quilt photography questions? Ask them below!
Use light to your advantage. Look at the lighting, where does it create brightness and shadows? Does it cast an even glow or is it harsh or spotty?