Leanne @Devoted Quilter has a wonderful link party open through the end of the month that she is calling Then… and Now. The premise is that we will be sharing where our skills used to be, where they are now, and linking up so that we can celebrate together. I really like this encouragement to soften our inner critic, pause, and look back and appreciate the growth we have made in our journey as quilters.
I realized the other day that I started my first quilt over 20 years ago. *gulp* That is a lot of time, and I can say with great confidence that I have a lot of skills that have improved over that period of time! The skill I want to talk about today is my quilt photography. It might seem like an odd choice, but I went from never photographing my quilts (I have many from my early quilting career that I have no photos of and will never have photos of), to snapping photos randomly, to being really proud of some of my more creative quilt finish photo shoots!
Important Note: I am not ashamed of any of the quilts or photography that I am sharing here and this is only to celebrate personal growth. I still take quick photos in dark places on occasion and I am OK with that; I am mostly just thankful to have learned how to use a camera better!
For instance, this is the best photograph I have of the baby quilt that really launched me into quilting on a very regular basis. It is a baby quilt I made for good friends and gifted in 2009. Bad lighting, non square… lots of things about this photograph aren’t the best. At least I have a photo record of what I made, though!
I learned that taking quilts outside (and asking my photographer husband to help) was really beneficial. This Seeing Squares baby quilt was finished in June of 2012. We were both working long hours, so while evening light here was not the best (resulting in a bit of blur from long shutter speed), it was definitely an improvement!
My husband and I made a quilt ladder that was helpful for some photo shoots, and I bought some nice pants hangars that have been very handy for holding up quilts when I need to photograph quilts on my own. The Woodland Creatures baby quilt was finished and photographed in September of 2012.
The combination of outdoor and hangars seems to have dawned on me back in May of 2013.
I officially started my blog in January of 2014, and in doing so I went back and populated posts for the quilt finishes that I had photographs. That, in combination with the 2014 New Quilt Bloggers Blog hop, really opened my eyes to quilt photography. Kitty @Night Quilter was kind enough to critique my blog at the time, and she encouraged me to get outside and think creatively for my quilt photo shoots and not just photograph my quilts laying on my floor… which I think is probably what prompted me to try my rocking chair instead. LOL! I have to admit that I was a bit intimidated – Kitty’s photography is amazing and she is now offering quilt photography if you are interested. However, I definitely tried to take that bit of advice to heart.
One of the first quilt photo shoots that I was really excited about was my Foothills Mystery Quilt finish. The contrast of the quilt to the snowy mountain backdrop was fun to execute. There were families sledding down the hills nearby, and at first I was nervous about tromping around in the snow with a quilt and a camera, but no one minded and it wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be.
Again, I want to emphasize that not every quilt has to have a super amazing photograph. Some quilts are really big and having a nicely lit bedroom with the quilt on the bed is OK. Some quilts are for clients and I don’t want to risk dragging them outside and getting them torn (side note: Triangle Transparency was torn on its outdoor photo shoot) or terribly dirty. But learning about natural lighting, taking a few moments to tidy the items off the bedside tables, and giving myself permission to do what works for each quilt has been a valuable and continuing learning experience for me.
I’ll leave this with a few of my favorite outdoor photographs of recent quilt finishes. And if you are interested, I highly recommend Ruth @Charly & Ben’s Crafty Corner’s Tips and Techniques to Improve your Photography (a 10 part series!). Her series gave me pause and thought about many aspects of photography and was a helpful part of my growth.
Oh, and if anyone is curious, I use a Nikon Coolpix P510 (not an affiliate link), which has a single integrated lens but some higher functions than a basic point and shoot (and more glass to let in more light). I shoot in Aperture priority (A), and my favorite trick is to adjust the white balance using the +/- quick key on the right side of the scroll wheel.
Linking up with Then… and Now.