I'm not exactly sure when I started this business, but I count the end of September as my quilty anniversary. That is a thing, right? It was a major life decision, and I have no regrets. The number one thing I have loved learning about is taking quilt photos. Quilts are hard to photograph. In nature? At home? Staged? With kids? What is the best option? Let me tell you, there are many ways to go about it, and there are many opinions and blog posts out there, so I will add the lessons I learned and show you what I have accomplished in one year. I will also add, I am in no way, a professional. These are just the things I have learned through trial and error and from a great friend, Maddie Thomson, a real life and very talented photographer.
When I started...
Originally would put them in a fun location in my house (or on the floor), hope the lighting was good, and then shoot away. I would even put my baby on the quilt to "sell" it. Those pictures were awful, but I didn't know how to do any better. And the lighting! Gah! Taking pictures of quilts is a hard task. Staging a quilt on a bed...don't even get me started. Every wrinkle, every pillow, every crease, has to be just right. The lighting is best when it is morning and natural. And props are useful, but they can be distracting.
Let the quilt do the talking. You don't need to do too much to let the quilt shine. You put a lot of effort into it. Hours of planning, sewing, unpicking, thinking, and loving that quilt. So, let the picture reflect that. I like to choose natural backgrounds.
This was the first quilt photo I took outside that I found successful. And it is super simple. I love this quilt and I love the person I made it for. I wanted to show the colors and the whimsy of it all. So, I simplified. I took the picture in the morning with a great background. Just off to the side, there was an unsightly barn with some trash. But that is easily taken care of by moving the shot. We have gotten into the habit of taking my quilts on trips with us. If we know we will be in the car, I will take a quilt or two JUST IN CASE we find a great tree of vista point. You just never know.
Edit, Edit, Edit
I take my photos on my phone--it is just easier with two little kids. But those pictures aren't always the best. I love using LightRoom to edit my pictures. Make them light and bright. Again, natural lighting is your friend. One of my first edits is to increase the exposure. Click on the light section and the first option is exposure. Don't go crazy! A little adjustment goes a long way. Then I just brighten everything up while keeping the colors true to life. Clicking on the Curve under the light option is also helpful. Play around with different parts of that curve. But again, I always make sure the colors are accurate. That is key.
Notice the difference? Though it is subtle, the light and bright picture is more eye appealing. You can also see more details. I also try different angles.
Sometimes some quilts just look better with a backdrop.
One lesson I have learned is that what looks good with one quilt might not work for another. So, I try new things. I think about what I am trying to sell and whois my audience. Who would want this quilt? What will they use it for? Then I stage the quilt accordingly.
What story am I selling? A cozy night watching TV? Reading a book by a fireplace? Snuggled in bed? A baby's room? Decor? Different quilts have different purposes. Different quilts are highlighted in different ways, so I try not to be stuck in one mode or spot or backdrop.
Have Fun with It
Most of all, if we hit a point where the kids are bawling and no one is having fun. We stop. Sometimes we need a snack break. Sometimes my chatty girl needs me to pay attention to her words for a few minutes. Sometimes we just need to stop altogether. There is no point to continuing with my little family. Taking a break or stopping helps me in the long run. Perhaps the photoshoot was taking too long because the shot was not right, the lighting was off, or something else was not clicking. There is always a new day. There will always be a better shot.
Photos can be hard, but with a little practice and a few tools, I have gotten much better at capturing the art of my quilts. I make pictures that match the quality of my quilts. And that, in turn, has helped my customers, friends, and colleagues see my work in a new light (pun totally intended). Now, quilt pictures are so fun for me even if my family is still a bit iffy on it.