Even if photography studio backdrops are costly and many of us can’t fit them in our small home studios, they are not the only options photographers have. In this article, I will go through alternatives for the expensive options and give some DIY photography backdrop tips.
- What material offers the best effect?
- Where to get the best backdrops for photography?
Photography backdrops – what are they
To begin with, backdrops are backgrounds for photography settings. Professional photographers mostly use seamless paper rolls, but they also need to have the space to store them. These might also be on the high end in pricing, but many photographers come up with alternative solutions to acquire their desired results. The usual sizing in backdrops is 2,72 m x 11 m. But if you don’t happen to have your own photo studio, I have other options for you.
There are multiple materials to use as backgrounds
- Vinyl flooring
- Seamless paper rolls
- Other fabrics such as shower curtains and bed covers for extra texture
Do you want to have a specific feel to your image? The darker the backdrop, the murkier the feeling is going to be. Similarly, you need to be aware of how some colors communicate a specific meaning; brown is often tied to nature and rural themes. The lighter the background, the more light it reflects.
Think about the reflectors used in directing the light to a photograph; they’re usually white and sometimes even silver or other mirror-like material to better reflect the light. The same applies to photographing outside the studio: a white room will fill your image with reflective light, but photographing in a room with black walls your image will have zero reflection.
Indeed the texture of the backdrop is essential.Is your goal to light up your subject or to portray them in a gloomy setting? Admittedly a more interesting background can be built with fabrics and similar canvases. However, the glossier the material the more it will reflect the light. For example, PVC plastic will show the flash of your lights visibly, but a denser fabric like cotton won’t do this. Actually, anything you can come up with will work as a great backdrop, even using a blanket for its fun pattern will do fine. Look for inspiration and plan your backdrop color and texture from there.
Although most backdrops can be bought online likeTheFabricStoreOnline and on Amazon, instead a better solution is to find them in Goodwill or Salvation Army. In cases when it’s difficult to find a specific texture or color in pre-owned fabrics, you’ll have to buy a new piece. I myself have collected fabrics for quite some time now and can say to have an extensive collection to choose from.
Perhaps even use smaller cardboards like this which you can build up on a stand, but most of them are for close-up portraits only.
1. Plain white cotton bedsheet
You can buy bedsheets and use them as backdrops, so versatile and inexpensive. But make sure you iron or vaporize it from wrinkles to have more of an even look in your pictures. Additionally adding warmth with lights will tweak the white balance in your images. Plain white fabric is a great investment and can be used in many portraits.
2. Something you already have in your house
In spite of most backdrops being usually fabrics, one option for a background is actually something you already own, such as an old bedcover. Try experimenting with curtains, linen or shower curtains you already have in your house to bring extra texture to the final images. Here you can tell the fabric being thicker and not reflecting the light.
3. A Wild Card
I myself like to add playfulness and surprising elements in my images so I’d always go for one piece that won’t be for every photoshoot. Something to be used in unusual themes or to add an extra element. My latest idea was to buy a checkerboard vinyl flooring from a hardware store. It was more expensive than my usual backgrounds but you can find something exceptional for half the price too.
We’ve covered the main backdrop fabrics and where to buy them. As previously mentioned, you do not have to have the most expensive backdrops. You just need to decide which best works for you and reconstruct it with alternative means. Look for images you like that work well and try to reconstruct them to see which materials are available.