A Crafter's Life, tierneycreates

The Photoshoot Shed: Please Give Me Your Ideas

Looking at the feature photo for this post you are likely thinking: “Wow Tierney, you have truly run out of things to talk about on your blog. You are now talking about backyard sheds?!?!?”

No, this is actually crafting/quilting related post. Quilt photography related as a matter of fact.

I would love your thoughts/ideas on the best way to make the rear of my new 8′ x 10′ backyard shed work for photographing textile art.


But first, let me share some background.

I am a recovering terrible photographer. My photography skills only approved over the past couple of years because they had to – if I ever wanted to have a sale on my tierneycreates Etsy shop I had to learn to take clear and alluring photos.

My Etsy shop is now closed but it was a great way to force me to become a better photographer.

In order to become a better…well okay, to become a less-terrible photographer, I had to learn some basic photography techniques. One of the first things I learned was the power of using natural light and the concept of “The Golden Hour”.

The Golden Hour and Soft Diffused Light

Here is a wonderful description of “The Golden Hour” from photographymad.com:

The golden hour, sometimes called the “magic hour”, is roughly the first hour of light after sunrise, and the last hour of light before sunset, although the exact duration varies between seasons. During these times the sun is low in the sky, producing a soft, diffused light which is much more flattering than the harsh midday sun that so many of us are used to shooting in. 

This type of light produces less contrast, reducing the chances of losing parts of your subject in strong shadows or blown-out highlights. The warm glow adds a pleasing feel to the scene, and the long shadows help to pick out details, adding texture and depth to the image.

As an added benefit, there are generally fewer people around at dawn and dusk than there are at other times of the day, giving you a chance to capture your images in relative peace.

The Golden Hour was wonderful for photographing the handmade miniature kimonos I used to sell on my tierneycreates Etsy shop. I also discovered it was wonderful for photographing quilts. The mid-day sun occasionally works for some large quilts but for art quilts, they seem to photograph better in diffuse light.

APQS, long-arm quilt machine manufacturer, has an article on their website, apqs.com, on How to Photograph Your Quilt which states:

If you are taking your quilts photo outside, keep in mind that stark daylight isn’t a great idea as it creates strong shadows and it is just too harsh. Filtered light, like dappled light through a tree’s leaves or even the light found during a cloudy day is softer. This type of light will help you capture your quilt’s beauty more easily.

Whether it is “The Golden Hour” or mid-day with dappled light, my handmade items always appear to photograph better in natural light instead of indoor artificial light.

So when our backyard Costco resin/Rubbermaid Shed’s roof caved in from all the intense Central Oregon snowfall this past Winter and was recently replaced with a real wood built-on-site shed, I knew this was an opportunity to have a standard place outdoor place to photograph quilts.

Whether photographing quilts and quilted wallhanging for my former tierneycreates Etsy shop or photographing art quilts for show entires, I have discovered that I get better images if the quilt is hung/mounted vertically and I can photograph it from a standing position. Although I have relentlessly tried, I just cannot get a good quality photograph of a quilt when it is on the ground and I am standing over it.

I just have to figure out how to set up the back of the shed as a quilt photography area that allows me the flexibility to hang/mount quilts of different dimension for their photo shoot.

I would appreciate your ideas!


Check out Sassy the Highly Opinionated Miniature Schnauzer’s latest Schnauzer Snips blog post – Schnauzer Quilt on a quilt I do not think I have shared before on my blog.

Oh, and in case you are curious, here is a photo of the front of the new backyard shed:


29 thoughts on “The Photoshoot Shed: Please Give Me Your Ideas”

  1. Very good post with easy to use tips that I really need. Thanks. I love your new shed. How about adding some kind of hanging mechanism to mount your art? Looking forward to see what you come up with. You are so lucky to be able to put the shed that close to your house and fence. Our city has codes that require 10 feet clearance on all sides. Greatly limits where they can be placed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Peggy! The shed has actually been moved over about 6- 8 inches from the house since I took that photo (of course that would still be away under your City’s codes of 10 ft!). I took the photo while I was painting it the same color as the house. Thanks for your ideas it seems like some sort of mounting system like the ones suggested so far might be the way to go!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. When we had a barn on our property, I put hardware permanently on the barn doors and used it to attach a quilt hanging bar when I wanted to make quilt photos. I saved up until I had several that needed photographing, then loaded them up, along with the hanging bar, and drove them to the barn. It was an effective and efficient way to make quilt photos. I miss the barn. Maybe you can do something similar without the drive!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks so much for your comment, ideas! I think that is a great idea too – especially when it comes to art quilts, they always have a hanging rod and I could slip the piece of wood into the hanging rod!


  3. I would agree that a hanging bar, permanently mounted (or at least the brackets with a rod that can go inside to avoid constant exposure to weather) would be a great idea. Great tips on photography.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Lighting will be key. You may need extra ground lights to plug in during photo shoots in the winter. You are right, dappled light is more organic and less harsh on quilts. I found a spot in my back yard where the sun shines through the trees a certain time of the day and that works the best for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Janet! At first I thought there was something wrong with me as full sunlight kept giving shadows or some sort of weird photo result and then I discovered direct sunlight is not your friend. Glad you have a good photo place in your backyard!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I can’t help. We’re still struggling to get good photos, even though they’ve improved a lot over the last couple of years. I only have space to do photos inside, not out. We have a galvanized steel pipe hung in our basement storage space. It is hung by chains that can be lowered or raised, depending on the size of the quilt. Then there are ring-style curtain hooks (the kind with clips) on the pipe to hang the quilt with even distribution of weight. We’ve added a lot of light, which helps show colors (though occasionally washes them out (!!!)) But all the relief/texture from the quilting disappears that way. Also it’s hard to get even lighting. Still workin’ on this. Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you telling me direct sunlight is not a photographic friend. I really struggle with taking clear, crisp photos without stark shadows… I am going to try dappled lighting now! I read all the geat ideas people have shared and it will be neat to see your photoshoot shed. I know it sure beats using a bush!(not one of my better ideas 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A bush? That is creative photography, ha! Sometimes I have used full shadow outside and that works for great photos sometimes. I took many many many bad photos of items for my former Etsy shop and if I ever reopen it, I know the photos will be better – ha!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, we know we are getting better when we look back and say “yikes”… I figured a bush was better than laying it on the sidewalk! Ha! Now Irealize I have other light options. Thank you for the great tips. With your photo experience now, are you thinking of re-opening your Etsy shop?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Not at this time on the Etsy shop, I would have to rethink my offerings. It is a lot of work for a part time gig and it was taking away from my fun time when I am off from my pay the bills job 🙂


  7. I think you have some really good suggestions for the back of your shed! I am going to use some of them too! Now, let’s talk about the front of your shed! Here in Ohio, people paint favorite quilt blocks on their barns and sheds. Maybe you and TTQH could come up with a unique design and paint the front of your shed? I also think a painted Schnauzer portrait of Sassy and Mike might be super cute (if you are going for a “cute” shed, that is)!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha that would be awesome to custom paint the shed. Yes I have seen the barns with quilt blocks and that would be cool on a shed too! Thanks for your comments 🙂


  8. Wonderful to read that you have a cool quilt-photographing space. What a coincidence – I was just talking with a photographer about different ways of diffusing light for fabric-photographs (she suggested that even a napkin or white sheet would soften daylight for small-scale photos). This sounds very similar to the ‘golden hour’ when the sun is naturally softer, or photographing on slightly more overcast days – what a beautiful description you’ve shared. 🙂 I agree with the posters that some form of hanging bar (maybe in conjunction with clip rings?) could be a very practical & stylish quilt showcase!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good thing I like you as a virtual friend, otherwise that would be it! Ha! I require everyone to have answers on things like this – ha, ha! Thanks for reading anyway 🙂


  9. I think everyone else has you sorted with ideas about how to hang your quilts up for photos! So I’ll share a tip a photographer friend of mine gave me – if you’re shooting on cloudy days and your photos are coming out a little dark, you can “bounce” some more light into the picture using a piece of white card, or a board covered in tinfoil. Hold it up in your free hand (or get TTQH to help you) and angle it so it catches the daylight and reflects it into your quilt. It gives a softer light than using spotlights or lamps. Happy snapping!

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