Why should I use a professional photographer to photograph my quilt?

As curator of the Fly Me to the Moon collection, I have noticed a lot of discussion lately about the wisdom of using a professional to photograph a quilt that is being submitted for jurying. It is an interesting discussion and the varying opinions all have weight. It is after all an inanimate object. It certainly can’t move around and you don’t have to get it to smile. Or do you?

There can be huge differences in photographs. Have you ever taken a photo with your phone in dim light and come up with a blue cast to the picture? If that happened with a quilt photo, you might not get in the show. Color balance (usually obtained by a photographer by white balancing) is crucial. Recently my photographer (okay – full disclosure – my husband, who does textile photography professionally) took a photo of a quilt that I made. The photo was wonderful except all of the greens were screaming neon! When I asked what he had used as white, he pointed to a piece of fabric was actually the palest green.  When he adjusted that, the photo was completely accurate in color.

I have served on the jury for a show and I can tell you that lots of folks who take their own photos are not doing themselves any favor. The hands at the top and feet at the bottom of a quilt is a classic photo, but you probably won’t get into an exhibit with it. You need good lighting, perfect color balance; a squared up, straight on photo, with edges showing; and no shadows (or feet or hands or clips). Then your quilt smiles at the juror and says clearly, “pick me!”