Guidelines for Photographing Quilts

Quilt Setup


Good lighting is the key to getting the colors to really pop on your quilt.  Unless you have special photography lighting, natural light is probably the best way to show off your quilt.  Get creative and look around the inside and outside of your house during different times of the day to see what might work well as a location for your photo shoot. You might have spots on your patio, or against your fence or garage door, that may work well.  Check out the light in the morning and afternoon, or when light is reflected off a nearby home or surface. 

  • BEST: outdoors on a bright but slightly overcast day, any time but high noon. This, of course, depends on the weather cooperating – but if you get the chance, use it!
  • GREAT: outdoors on a sunny day, anywhere the light is diffused or reflected, but still bright.  Direct sunlight sometimes is too harsh and can result in a poor photo.
  • GOOD – daytime indoors in a well-lighted room. Open the curtains and bring in additional lamps if necessary, to make sure the quilt has good light on the front.
  • OK – Indoors, with as many lights on as possible. Bring in extra lamps if necessary.

Experiment with your flash on and off.

Set up so the source of light is not directly behind you, which will cast shadows on the quilt.

Quilt Setup

  • Make sure your quilt is level and hangs straight down before you photograph it. Do not photograph it laying on the floor, a table, or a bed, that results in a skewed photograph.
  • Slip a curtain rod, shower rod, yardstick, or whatever you have through the sleeve to help it hang straight.
  • Hang it against a wall using hooks or have two friends hold it level. If you can’t do that…
  • Get creative! The object here is to have the quilt hanging as straight and level as possible.  Maybe you can hang it from a doorway or other opening in your house, on a fence or porch rail, from your garage door (open or closed?) or place the rod across two chair tops (for small quilts).  Try using suction cups or 3M Command Hooks (where they won’t harm the surface you stick them to), to hold up the rod. 
  • Use a quilt stand or design wall if you have access to them.
  • Get the whole quilt in the photo. Don’t worry if part of your setup shows in the photo (for instance, the ends of your hanging rod and hooks), they will be cropped out.

  • Use the best camera you have.  It may be the one on your phone!  If it is a digital camera, it will be the one with the most “megapixels”. 
  • Hold the camera so that the lens is centered squarely on the quilt, top to bottom, and left to right.  Think of a bullseye right in the center of the quilt.  That is where you want the lens of your camera to be centered and focused.  Move back or forth to get the whole quilt in the frame, keeping the lens at the center.
  • Take several photos and choose the best ones. 
  • Take a few close-up photos of the best details if you wish.  Sometimes having the light shine from the side of the quilt shows the stitching details better.  To get a good detail picture of the quilting, make sure you are close enough to see the stitches, but not so close that the picture is blurry. 
  • If using a digital camera and downloading to your computer, save the photo as a JPEG (.jpg) format. 
2021 Quilt Show

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