Photography Tips in the Studio

Guest Designer: Kitty Wilkin

Instagram: @nightquilter 

Skill level: All levels



Sharing your progress with friends and family on social media is such a big part of creating these days. But taking photos that accurately convey the gorgeousness of your work can sometimes feel daunting. Want to take your quilt progress photos to the next level? Here are some tips for photographing your projects in the comfort of your own studio.


Tools needed:
  • Multitude of OLFA tools in a wide range of colors to match your project!

Supplies needed:

  • A quilt block or other craft progress
  • Color coordinated items
  • Some of the tools & trimmings you used to make the block
  • Something alive (cut flowers, potted plant, hands)


Photography Tips in the Studio

You’ve spent countless hours stitching your heart into a project, mastering new techniques, using fun tools, and creating a thing of beauty. How do you share this with folks who aren’t right there in your studio? Photograph your process, of course! When you think of photography, you probably think about light, focus, and composition first. Those are all very important aspects of photography, and there are many resources available online to help you best master them (including my blog post and my on demand class Take Great Quilt Photos Now!)



Lighting is everything when it comes to photography, so taking the time to find the best light in your house or studio is the first step to taking great photos. Natural light is always best when available (avoid direct sunlight by using a sheer curtain or yardage to filter the sunshine if needed), and something as simple as setting up a big white poster board next to a window can provide a bright, clear background for quilt progress shots to share on blogs, Instagram, to send to friends, or to save for posterity.


Today I’m going to share two of my favorite tips for taking your photos to the next level, and two tips I almost always use when sharing progress photos of my creations, whether I’m quilting my life or stitching up a quick pattern.


Tell the Story

One delightful way to incorporate extra meaning into the photographs you take of your quilt, whether you’re sharing a completed project OR the steps taken along the way, is to tell the story of the quilt in photos. How does one tell a story in a photo? Thinking about these questions might help:


How did you make the block you’re sharing?
Were there HSTs to trim, curves to cut and stitch, foundation paper piecing templates to use, or any other special technique? Including evidence of those techniques, whether it be a stack of fabric trimmings, the curvy scrap cut-offs that remain, or a not-yet-sewn foundation template can help add interest to your photos and show a bit more behind the scenes for your creative process.


What tools did you use to make the block?

When using special tools to make your quilt block, include the tools in the photo! A lot of times this helps the viewers of the photo know a bit more about your process, maybe learn about a new tool they hadn’t seen before, and it helps share peeks at the journey that was taken to get to this point of the project. If you have a color coordinating tool, that’s an extra bonus!! I love OLFA rotary cutters and have a variety of colors so that I can often color match the tool with each project.


What does the quilt block represent?

While this question may not be relevant for all projects, it’s a great one to consider when thinking about how to tell the story of your quilt in your photo. For example, when sharing blocks that represent time spent reading in my Summer Lovin’ Quilt, I included some of the books I read in the photo to help tell the story of how the blocks were earned. This question is particularly helpful when you’re tying life together with quilt making, since there often is a deeper meaning to every piece of the quilt that can be shared through the items you include in photos.


What mood do you wish to convey through your photo?

Different items and compositions can convey different emotions, so give thought to the mood you want to convey (if there is one!) with the quilt, too. Calm and peaceful props like tea, candles, quiet bits of nature can share a peaceful vibe that pair well with hand stitching or any other calming project, or you can convey a more chaotic feel with thrown fabric scraps and bolder props.


Breathe Life Into the Photo

Once you’ve decided on the story you want to tell about the quilt or progress shot you’re photographing, add something living!

I fully recognize that this may not be possible for everyone and may not be practical for every situation, but I find that photos that include something alive always bring me a bit more joy and feel more dynamic than photos that don’t. No, I don’t mean try to put your pet turtle in the photos (I mean, you can if it helps tell the story!), but you could add a small potted plant, some fresh cut flowers or herbs, or even your own hands! There’s just something about adding something alive that grounds the photo and increases the pleasure hormones cycling in the viewer’s brain. (Note that this is not scientifically proven! It’s just my opinion, so take it for what it is! hah)



Here you can see how much flatter the photo looks without the addition of living things, even though it’s still telling the story and sharing the quilt blocks in a clear and beautiful way. Amazing, right?

Keeping these tips in the forefront of your mind when photographing your work will help take your photos to the next level, and share the depth of your own creative process a bit more effectively. What story are you going to tell when sharing photographs of your quilt blocks? I can’t wait to see!


Be sure to read more about how combining quilting with life leads to adventure in the first post in this series HERE, learn tips for photographing your quilt block out and about on your adventures HERE, and if you want to dive even more deeply into how to take great quilt photos, check out my on demand class HERE. Feel free to tag me on social media @nightquilter as you put these tips to use in your photos!