MEET QUILT PHOTography Pro Kitty WIlkin, for your quilt’s sake.
Pro quilt photographer Kitty Wilkin recently shared her photography magic tricks with the Playful Color Quilt Guild as our guest teacher. We tested her tips on our own quilts in February’s Photo Challenge. When I met Kitty in 2015, we quickly bonded over quilting, creating, and mothering young children. A self-taught quilt photographer, Kitty uses the outdoors and natural lighting as the backdrop for quilt photos, near her home in rural Maine. She’s known for choosing unusual locations and perspectives to shoot her quilts “in the wild.” Her work is featured in the annual Quilter’s Planner, showcasing quilts as works of art and love.
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PRO TIPS FOR WOW QUILT PHOTOgraphy
“The key to a wow photo” said Kitty, “is combining technical steps to follow with your curiosity and intuition. Taking a what-if approach and playful risks is where the magic happens.”
After too many washed out, shadowy and yellowed indoor shots, I was psyched to improve my photos. Cracking the wow photo code with Kitty was exciting! Kitty clearly explained why we get meh results with quilt photography, and what to do about it. A message of hope was heard by this average quilt photographer.
She shared dozens of side-by-side photos showing common problems on the left and how to fix them on the right. Sooooooo helpful: Don’t do this, do that. Many aha moments later, I couldn’t resist snapping photos while listening to her presentation, you know, to see if I could make magic.
LIGHTING, LIGHTING, LIGHTING
Working from her home studio (which is more home than studio with kids’ toys and laundry baskets around), Kitty uses a few large windows and a sliding glass door to get enough natural light for professional product photos. Experimenting with light throughout the day, Kitty has learned when and how to shoot her photos based on the time and season. When extra light is needed, she adds a ring light or softbox lighting to the mix.
LEARNING TO SEE WOW PHOTOs
Like color, Kitty emphasized that learning to see what makes a photo great is developed over time and practice. No shortcuts – lots of fun. Mother Nature tests her patience, like waiting hours during a blustery day for a moment of calm to settle a quilt in the perfect position. (This super-heroine patience is also known as mom willpower). She has even immortalized a quilt in front of a waterfall while her husband’s toes gripped a limb and the precious quilt by his fingertips. “Go higher in the tree,” she said, until she GOT THE ONE, 400 shots in. And no one fell in the river.
HOW MANY QUILT PHOTOS SHOUlD YOU TAKE?
A lot more than you probably are now.
Are you thinking what I’m thinking? She’s a pro so she needs to get “one” amazing photo for her clients. Would I climb onto a huge boulder or branch floating above a waterfall to get a quilt photo? Nope. Would you take hundreds of photos of one quilt? Maybe not. Her average number of takes for a quilt photography shoot? 200. Number of wow-worthy photos: ONE.
Oddly, I felt encouraged by her stats.
That yes, wow photos take practice but are very possible. But I don’t have that kind of time so I’ll take a few more than I usually do using her magic quilt photography tips. Her message of hope from her camera to yours? Keep on snapping (and snapping) for the great, wow and wonderful quilt photos. They deserve it.
Need wow inspiration from the heroine of super patience in quilt photography? Stumped about your so-so results? Thinking about taking your quilt’s photo on the edge of the ocean? Visit Kitty’s Facebook and Instagram for photo galleries, patterns, project tutorials and fun makes.