It’s not everyday that we source a shoot location that comes equipped with the perfect puppy-model. And believe me when I say that when we do, we get a model release form signed and we put that puppy in a book!
Designing and photographing a cover this way appears like it should be pretty quick and simple (Spoiler: the more simple the layout, the more challenging it was to put together). There were endless configurations that we could place these quilts in, it seriously began feeling like a giant game of tetris! Playing with the shapes and balancing the color, considering where the title would be placed and which quilts worked best together…I’m kicking myself for not recording a time lapse of this set up.
Composing the image while keeping the text in mind is my favorite way to design. I suppose it’s a good thing that I know a great photographer.
Project: Mini Masterpieces
Author: Alyce Blythe
Publisher: Lucky Spool
Book Design + Photography: Page + Pixel
Photographing a quilt is one of the more difficult things I’ve encountered in my photography career. It’s also one of the reasons I love my job - the challenge - ensuring the quilt is evenly lit, making sure the colors are true/fabrics are represented, and that we accurately capture what makes the work special - is something I really enjoy.
I shot this quilt for Char Maeda, one of the Milwaukee Sewtopia Michael Miller Challenge winners. Isn’t this quilt fantastic?! The color and pattern combinations, the shapes created from the improv blocks, and absolutely stunning quilting.
PHOTOGRAPHING A WHITE QUILT can be quite daunting; there is less margin for error in a lot of ways. The lighting you use must be carefully placed because with white, anything bouncing (like the color of a wall, a piece of furniture, even a shade of white wall bouncing light from the window first before it hits the quilt) will reflect on to the white fabric. It’s also very easy - especially when you’re trying really hard to control the quality of light - to over or underexpose the white fabric while trying to properly light the colored fabrics alongside it.
Here are a few tips to get you started on photographing your own white quilt!
USE THE BIGGEST, SOFTEST LIGHT SOURCE YOU CAN FIND. The bigger the light, the less chance for falloff and reflection of color. Soft light keeps the shadows along the quilting prominent but understated. Ideally, the light source is as big as the quilt is. That means, if you’re using a window to light it indoors, opt for the biggest window or use a big modifier (like a scrim) placed in front of the window
KEEP YOUR SHOOTING AREA AS WHITE AS POSSIBLE. Flooring, colored walls, anything that isn’t white and is bouncing light in your shot can and will reflect color back on to your white quilt and make it look dingy or weird.
KEEP WHITE FOAMCORE AROUND FOR BOUNCING. You won’t always be able to get the biggest light source, and you won’t always be able to be in a white room with nothing of any color nearby to reflect. This is why I keep lots of 30x20 white foamcore boards from the art supply store around - they’re perfect for putting in front of furniture or on top of flooring that is reflecting color we don’t want. They’re like $3 each and endlessly useful!
SHOOT WITH THE QUILT AT A 45 DEGREE ANGLE FROM THE LIGHT AND USE A BOUNCE TO FILL. Sometimes with quilts that are all colored fabrics, I can get away with a simple 45 degree angled light - what you should be doing for every quilt you photograph - without having to bounce on the opposite side. I don’t recommend this for white - because the amount of light falloff between your light source and the “dark” side of the quilt is enough in most simple home lighting scenarios to cause a pretty significant visual difference. It’s very easy to use something large and white - foam core board or even a white sheet - just to bounce the light slightly and fill in the shadows. This will help you to get beautiful, defined quilting but also to bring in light and reduce the amount of color correcting you’ll have to do on the white fabric.
Finally, enjoy the challenge! I love shooting quilts that give me a little bit of a struggle - because I learn something new every time. Play around, try things, and if you get a little stuck, make sure to ask for help in the Page + Pixel Photo School group on Facebook.
Quilt Design by: Char Maeda
Photography: Page + Pixel
I’m stuck. I’m supposed to be working on a new book design and I’m getting hung up on details that don’t usually stump me. I’ve just spent the last precious hour and a half going in circles about a design decision. I keep telling myself to “Focus”...”Stay focused”…”Make some tea and get focused”.
All I can think of is this photo that Nissa shot this past summer.
What a wonderfully creative, exciting, invigorating photo shoot that was. We were in Mendocino County at the beach, shooting Nicholas Ball’s book, Inspiring Improv for Lucky Spool . We rented a beach house and made a beautiful mess inside with quilts and pillows and random props all over the place and we had a plan and we stuck to it and we made a bunch of gorgeous photos.
Imagine that—a plan! I had a plan today and it was to get this book design going, but then I got stuck—unfocused.
After sitting in my pitty-pot for a few minutes I started looking through the photos from the Improv shoot and reminded myself to take a break from what isn’t working. Stretching a different set of muscles for a while will do me some good.
How about that image with the glass tray in focus? Maybe it’s just that easy to shift focus and to not dwell on what’s not working. Maybe I can remind myself that I do know what I’m doing, it’s just not what I’m focused on right now. Maybe if I let myself be confused and let myself play without a deadline and let myself be tired and rest, it will all come back clear to me. There really is no “maybe”, I’ve been here before so many times before. I know it comes back, I know this is part of the process, it’s just inconvenient.
When the focus comes back it feels really good. I feel settled and feel a quiet satisfaction, much like dusk in a night garden near the ocean.
Kristy // DESIGN
INSPIRING IMPROV is debuting at QuiltCon in February.
Book Design + Photography: Page + Pixel
Publisher: Lucky Spool Media
Author: Nicholas Ball
Being successful at photography, no matter what you are shooting, is all a matter of light.
Learning to harness it is a lifelong pursuit. See it, read it, bounce it, make it, love it, hate it. Become it's keeper.
It doesn't matter what kind of camera you have, or what kind of gear you have. If you cannot harness light you cannot steadily make good photographs.
Even though I have been shooting for 10 years now, I regularly have my mind blown by something I didn't see before. It is one of my favorite things. Never ever stop watching, learning, trying.
Follow the light.
What are we all working on? Anyone want to talk about how good or bad light is being to them today?
I am always so humbled when you all send your quilts for us to photograph. The artistry and craftsmanship that go into making those beauties is astounding. And last week was no exception when we received a box from Angela Walters. Unable to resist waiting until the scheduled photoshoot, Nissa and I decided that we had better take out the quilts to...ahem...do some measurements and...you know...check out the fabric choices so that we could...*cough cough*...consider our lighting options. I mean, would you be able to resist?
And speaking of beauties, how about Spring Quilt Market?! After everything that we saw via Instagram (wow!), Nissa and I got to talking and thought that some of you would need/want/love photos of those samples and projects that were made for the show. Knowing that you are all busy forging ahead with new ideas and business opportunities secured at market, we'd love to help you with those photos!
For one week, Page + Pixel is offering our Bulk Photography pricing for single quilts! Instead of needing to have 3 quilts finished and ready for photography, you can go ahead and send us that 1 from the show or that 1 that you just HAVE to have a photo of.
BOOK WITH US BEFORE JUNE 1** to receive the Bulk Photography rate.
**Quilts/projects for photography must be scheduled for delivery by July 20, 2016.
Go on, dig through that pile of quilts sitting over there and pull out the gems. We'll help you check some photos off of your list!