Say "Cheese!"

Hi everyone, it's Tracy (the one that likes to makes big quilts) and I’m blogging today about how I take photos of my finished quilts.  Please know that I am not a skilled photographer -- I have a computer overflowing with quilt photos and a Flickr account, that's about it.  This is just a quick overview of how documenting my quilts has evolved over the years, much like my quilting. 

I started with a pretty basic concept – throw the quilt on a piece of furniture and take a snapshot. 

It then dawned on me that there are tall people lounging around the house that are perfectly capable of holding them up.  But I still took pictures inside the house without taking notice of my background (that’s the dog...little photo-bomber).

I have now taken photographing my quilts to a level that drives everyone in my house nuts.  I’m always looking for new backdrops, backgrounds and places that will really complement a specific quilt.  For instance, this zigzag quilt looks great with the water background:

But getting that picture took a lot of this:

I also learned rather quickly how important it is to crop your picture; because let’s be honest, quilts look much better without legs:

Once I discovered that the holder of the quilt is key in getting a nice flat shot, my inner photographer really came out.  My son is my number one quilter holder.  On his own, with no coaching from me, he will hold the corners straight without showing his fingers on the front of the quilt (he’s gifted like that and it doesn’t hurt that he’s 6’5”).  He is also the least whiny about holding a quilt for me.  He learned early on that the sooner he got up from the sofa and held up the quilt until I said he was done, the sooner he’d be left alone.  Here is some of his finest work:

He can, however, shoot a fine “stink eye” at me when pushed too far.

Or give me a little attitude now and then:

He’s off at college now, so meet my new assistants:

These clamps are from the husband’s tool bench and work great.  I take them, a quilt and hit the wooded paths down the street from our house.  I can hang quilts from the walking bridges or low tree branches, take some pictures and move on.

Lately my husband has jumped on the quilt picture taking bandwagon and has become my go-to quilt holder.


He, however, has much less stamina than our son.  I’ll be shooting away and all of the sudden the quilt drops and he’s all like, “Isn’t that enough?” or “There’s no blood in my arms!” Blah, blah, blah.

I recently discovered my new favorite spot for pictures near our home.  It’s an original farm house built about 150 years ago with an old barn and outbuilding.  It’s amazing how lovely a perfect stranger can be when you introduce yourself as a quilter and ask if you can use her buildings for backdrops for your quilt photos. 

I have loved learning and discovering how different backdrops can really show off my quilts.  Since most of my quilts have been given as gifts, I enjoy having a nice picture to remember them by.  So here are my simple, uneducated tips for taking pictures of your quilts:

1.  Look for backgrounds that have texture, interesting color, contrasting color, or depth of field in order to have your quilt stand out in the photo.  
2.  Cloudy or overcast weather is better than bright sun. 
3.  Don't be shy; people love quilts. If you see someplace that would be perfect for a picture, ask if you can take some pictures on their property.
3.  Learn how to crop your photos on your computer.
4.  And most importantly, always consider bribery in order to get someone to hold up a quilt for you.  

So get out there and take pictures of your quilts.  Be warned though, once you get started, it’s hard to stop.

This last photo is one that I took from my neighbor’s deck using her hammock below as a quilt holder.  

Easiest photo shoot ever!


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