Photographing Quilts II

June 23, 2010

I did it! I put bindings on both crib sized UFO and they’re ready to donate! But, before they go I’ve decided I had better take pictures for my records.

Here are my favorite tips using a simple, point & shoot digital camera:

1. The design wall in my studio is made from two 4′ x 6′ pieces of styrofoam insulation.  Many quilters cover their design walls with flannel because the fabric “sticks” to it, but so does every loose thread. Because I want to photograph on these boards as well as design, I covered them with the cheapest charcoal gray polyester I could find on the discount rack at Joann Fabrics. The colors of my quilts read true against the gray and the threads don’t cling to the polyester and show in my pictures. These walls are easy to move outside (my next favorite tip) and when they are next to each other there’s enough surface area to hang a bed sized quilt.

2. Photograph with natural light (outside) if possible. The ideal weather is bright overcast with very little wind. Avoid direct sunlight/high noon. My garage faces north and the doors are recessed about 6″, so I lean the board(s) inside the recess to protect it from wind and the lighting is good in the afternoon even on a sunny day.

3. The camera needs to be steady, so use a tripod or, if you don’t have one, place the camera (safely) on the appropriate height step of a ladder. One extra hint that can make a big difference is to remember that the design wall is leaning and by tipping the camera to match the angle (fairly easy with a tripod), the quilt will remain square in the picture.

4. I usually take a few snaps with the flash and few without. Then I can choose the best result.

This is certainly not a comprehensive coarse in photography and I’m no camera expert, but my quilts have been accepted into some big shows using these techniques. Even if you’re just shooting the quilts for your own inventory, its a blessing to have good quality pictures.


  1. This idea sure beats my floor or bed tricks. Hard to hang from the light ficture for the beds pictures.

    I’ve also draped a quilt over a sofa,(Plaid) and got a wonderful result. NOT!! The gray background is a wonderful idea.

    Great reading, thanks.

  2. When I took photography classes, we learned about “magic hours,” the hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset. Because the sun is low, there are no harsh shadows. Also, the light itself is gentle and, in poetic terms, has more emotion.

    I wonder if this also applies to outdoor shots for quilts?

    • Great advice! Thanks.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: