As the photographer for Landauer Publishing, it’s my job to photograph the quilts that become part of our books. This requires me to take a shot of the entire quilt so the viewer can see the complete pattern, as well as many other angles and close-ups to highlight various features of the quilt.
Many quilters like to photograph their finished quilts. Why do you want to photograph yours? If you are entering a quilt in a show, there will be photo requirements that you can find on the show’s entry form or website. It will tell you what size, file type, and view of the quilt is required, as well as other dos and don’ts that could cause your quilt to be accepted or rejected. A quality photo is key when entering your quilt in a show. But if you are simply keeping track of your quilts for personal use, it can be a far easier process. I suspect everyone has a digital device to record photos, whether it’s a phone, a full-blown camera, or something in between.
Here are few things to consider when photographing your quilt:
Photograph your entire quilt on a flat surface, preferably a wall. Center yourself in front of the quilt for the least amount of distortion. One of the most important variables in any photograph is the light. You will get very different results just from changing the lighting in your photo. You can see the difference between a picture taken with just the overhead light (right) and one with additional lights pointed at the quilt (left).
If your only flat surface is a floor or bed, keep in mind there will be some distortion because you will be shooting from an angle as opposed to shooting straight on. Try to shoot from above to capture as much of the quilt as possible. This is not an unacceptable photo; the focus will be primarily in the center of your quilt. If your quilt is repetitive this might be all you want or need.
If the quilting is what you want to highlight, try “shooting across” your quilt and/or light the quilt surface from the side. This will cast a shadow across the quilt and give dimension to the quilting. You don’t need a fancy light to do this. You can use light from a window, a lamp, or a flashlight to light your quilt from the side, like the example on the left. On the right, I moved the camera to the side to shoot the quilt from an angle.
You may also want take close ups of your blocks to record construction, color, and pattern. If you make this quilt again, you can look back to see how to replicate or change it.
A quilt hung outside against a pretty background is a nice way to record your project. Natural light is just that….natural! Place your quilt on a clothesline, a rail fence, or tack it to the side of an old barn. Watch for excessive shadows from trees, overhangs, or other structures. Try to photograph in the morning or evening if you choose to go outside with your quilt. The light from mid-day, overhead sun can be very harsh and “burn out” the colors in your quilt.
It may take a little experimenting but in the end, it only matters if you are satisfied with your photo!
The photo examples in this post feature the “Fresh and Trendy Quilt,” from Contemporary Curved Quilts by Jenny Pedigo and Helen Robinson for Sew Kind of Wonderful.
The last photo is the “Sharing Thimbles” quilt from Friendship Strips & Scraps by Edyta Sitar for Laundry Basket Quilts.