The most recent topic in the Sewing with Certainty series at Quilty Habit is showcasing your work. Jess asked Laura of Little and Lots to write a guest post on the topic and I love what she focused on in her piece: photographing your finish. I love it because I agree! Not all of us will have our work hung at the next national quilt show, or see our quilt gracing a magazine cover. But just because we may not be trying to sell patterns with glossy images of our next finishes, and they may not quite be best in show material, doesn't mean they don't deserve a few great photos to document our hard work, creativity, and personal growth as quilters. Taking time to get a few good pictures of each finish will help you see the project through from what you originally just envisioned in your mind's eye to the beautiful final quilt that emerged after so many hours of hard work. And it will allow you to look back at your work as a whole and see how you've grown - from that first attempt at a basic block to the intricate points and layers and quilting you achieve after years of practice.
Here's what a quick look back at the doll quilts I've made revealed for me:
At left, my first from almost two years ago. The quilting was very basic outlining, and as for photography, notice the uneven lighting, foggy upper right corner of the image, and overall unexciting staging?
I made the quilts at right about a year ago, and repainted the antique beds to coordinate, but somehow the only pictures I took highlight the dolls more than the bedding! I don't even have a good excuse because these babies reside about twenty feet away from where I'm typing right now. Even though I made them as hopeful heirlooms for my daughters to pass on to their children, I've never taken the time to really document them as part of my quilting journey.
And finally onto my doll quilts from last month...
See a little improvement?
More quilting detail (but oh so much FMQ yet to learn in order to improve!), which motivated the taking of decent close up shots, aided by better lighting, and I think a much more successful attempt at staging overall. All improved thanks to a lot of trial and error!
In this vein of practice and improvement, I'm keeping an eye out for a future sale over at Craftsy so I can sign up for Shoot It! A Product Photography Primer. It's been on my wishlist for a while, but I'm waiting for warmer weather so I can take advantage of more natural light to practice. I'm not quite as hardcore as Alyssa - Blizzard quilt or no, I'm not anxious to wade out into snow drifts all winter to snap pics of stash shares and bee blocks just for the lovely filtered sunlight, so I'm making good use of my layout wall and an OttLite in the meantime. Hoping to eventually further hone my skills at capturing really gorgeous shots of my projects, though, and if you have a goal to market your quilts for sale, click eye catching images for patterns, or simply to take better pictures for your blog or personal album, you might want to check the class out, too!
As for other outlets to showcase work, online there are blogs (thanks for stopping by mine!) and photo sharing sites, such as Flickr (I'm a newbie over there having just recently joined to link up with Stash Bee, but what a great resource for images and a wealth of creative inspiration). But better yet, there are real people in real time link ups called quilt guilds and quilt shows. (I know - people still get together face-to-face? How novel!)
I began attending the local chapter of Maine's Pine Tree Quilters Guild this fall and I am so glad that I did. For starters, this stay at home mom loves having a few nights out a month to look forward to. From a quilting standpoint, though, I greatly appreciate having a group of like-minded new friends who enjoy the same hobby, hold a wealth of knowledge and skills that I can learn from, and who delightfully ooh and ahh over each other's work at our show-and-tells each meeting. My husband always says something nice about what I've made, but it's just not the same as hearing an encouraging compliment from other quilting aficionados. Besides - even the crème de la crème of photographs can't hold a candle to seeing in person someone's intricate piecing and beautifully textured quilting - there's the Google image spread of Michaelangelo, and then there's standing in the Sistene Chapel.
Speaking of standing in front of amazing work, the quilt above, Ms. MacDonald Had a Farm, is my best personal example of doing just that. This quilt won first place in the group category at the 2012 International Quilt Festival in Houston, but I saw it in person at AQS QuiltWeek in Paducah that spring, where it won second place in the group category, and I fell in love! This is one of those quilts of which no photo can do justice; the intricacy of the applique shading used cannot be explained without seeing it. Sometimes you just have to be there. I encourage anyone new to quilting who hasn't attended a quilt show to make the time to attend one. The chance to see up close hundreds of gorgeous works of art displayed is priceless - you'll see such a range of skills and styles and walk away excited to start your next project! I have my Paducah trip to thank for rekindling my love of quilting, but even if you can't get to one of the big shows, look up something local (here in Maine we have Maine Quilts) and go for the day with a quilty friend. Then get home, get to work, and when you have something you're proud of, hopefully that will be your work being showcased at the next show you attend!
If you want to read more about showcasing your work, head over to Quilty Habit and check out this week's Sewing with Certainty link up. Have some advice to share? What is your best tip for showcasing your work? Are you part of a guild and have you entered work into a quilt show before, or do you enjoy posting photographs for an online community, or both?