Quilt Photography {Then and Now}

Linky Party

Then and Now

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!

Tighe Baby Quilt - Front
Tighe Baby Quilt – Front

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!

Seeing Squares - Flying Things
Seeing Squares – Flying Things

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!

Woodland Creatures - Completed Quilt
Woodland Creatures – Completed Quilt

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.

Lillie Mae Baby Quilt
Lillie Mae Baby Quilt

The combination of outdoor and hangars seems to have dawned on me back in May of 2013.

Whale of a Time - Front
Whale of a Time – Front

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.

Foothills Mystery Quilt
Foothills Mystery Quilt

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.

Tessellated Leaves - Queen Sized Color Wash
Tessellated Leaves – Queen Sized Color Wash

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.


  • What a great concept for a link-up and an even greater post. You can really see how your photography has improved in a rather short time. I love seeing quilts outdoors in creative shoots (something that I haven’t done enough of), especially ones with snow.

  • This is a wonderful post Yvonne with so many inspirational photos. Blogging really does require many different skills and helps us to grow in so many ways. Thanks for the reminder of the photography series on Ruth’s blog. I’ll have to check it out again.

  • This is such a great post to celebrate your growth, both as a quilter and a quilt photographer. The quilts that are used the most in our home are my early quilts, made over 20 years ago, so I am often reminded of my quilting journey. Photography is one of the skills that I struggle with, and it kept me from starting a blog for awhile. I finally decided that I would just have to learn as I go along, so I appreciate your examples and the photography links. I’ve really enjoyed your recent photo shoots!

  • I really appreciate your post Yvonne, and have had a similar journey! 😉 Thanks for the various links. I linked back here from my latest newsletter.

  • You have always had great photos of your quilts! It isn’t always easy getting the perfect picture, capturing the exact colors or getting the entire quilt in the picture. It was fun seeing your photos again! I say it all the time, but I need to branch out sometimes!

  • I’m thinking you were five years old when you started quilting! I really appreciate the tips on your photography. I usually take a photo of my design wall, but more recently I ventured outside when I had flowers blooming. Thanks for opening my eyes!

  • Quilt photography is something I need to improve upon…thanks for the link to Charly and Ben! I have to ask how do you hang your quilts in the wild? Is your sweet hubby tall enough to stand behind? Mine isn’t….may have to carry a step stool for him!

  • Yvonne, you have come SO far in your quilt photography and I’m flattered and honored that I helped kick start that! I absolutely love your quilts in nature shots (are you surprised?) but that Whale of a Time photo with the quilt folded over your chair is wonderful, too! It’s really fun to see your progress, and to hear about the evolution of your techniques. I must say though—Triangle Transparency was ripped!??! Gasp! How did that happen? That’s terrifying. I’m so sorry that happened! I can’t imagine… well, I can, since I’ve had a quilt cut by my 4 yr old… but yeah, ugh! Horror story aside, I’m excited to see your quilt photos of the future, since you have made such huge strides in staging and adventure, and as a result, clarity, of your quilt photos even over the past year!

  • Thanks for linking with me, Yvonne! I started quilting in ’97 and, like you, I hardly have any pictures of those early quilts and the ones I do have are really random. Photography is definitely something I struggle with too, so I loved seeing your progression here. I laughed when I read that Kitty’s suggestion to not lay the quilts on the floor prompted you to try a chair instead! I love your more recent photo shoots, and I can certainly see Kitty’s influence 🙂 Thanks for the reminder about that photo series. I have read it before, but I’m sure I could do with reading it all again. I also really enjoyed the one done recently by Amanda at The Cozy Pumpkin (http://www.thecozypumpkin.com/category/tutorial/photo10fun). I hope you’re having a great sewing vacation with Renne 🙂

  • Thanks for another interesting and inspiring post.I’m wracking my brains to think of outdoor, nature rich photography locations near me… I love where I live but the urban and the natural rub along close together and create confusing backgrounds. Thanks for the links too ☺

  • I love your photography Yvonne and I’m always hugely inspired by your shots. I particularly like that desert photo shoot you did a while ago and made special note of how you used your tripod as a quilt hanger. Thanks for sharing your journey, it’s always fascinating!

  • As I read your post, I found myself nodding throughout and thinking tomyself, “Yep, me too.” ; especially when reading your “Important Note”. Thank you for posting the link to the camera you use and that photography series. I will definitely check them out ASAP. I’m so glad Leanne started this linky party! It’s fun, and informative, reading these posts!

  • Wow, you have made huge steps in photographing. I see my quilts in your early pictures, laying on the floor. All the quilts are beautiful, whether they were the first or last.

  • A really interesting retrospective Yvonne! I have to say that as much as I love the current vogue for beautiful pictures of quilts surrounded by astonishing landscapes (as photos, I just LOVE them), they don’t scratch my itch to see the quilts up close. I want to feel the thread through the lens. Lol. I have such problems photographing my quilts as a result. Never happy! Ha.

  • I enjoyed following your quilt photography journey – interesting to see how much you have progressed, and it also pushes me to think more about what I do. Thanks for the useful links too!

  • Triangle Transparency was torn on its outdoor photo shoot? Nooooo!
    I still suck at photography. I try to go outside and I use a tripod, but my skills are nil, and my camera is pink and has Hello Kitty hanging off it. 🙂

I really appreciate the time and thought you take to comment, and I look forward to conversing with you. :)