Choosing the Right Photography Backdrop

Written by Backdrop Express Photography Team on . Posted in Digital Photography, Photography Backdrops, Photography Tips, Seamless Backdrops, Studio Equipment

model on blue photo backdrop

Photography backdrops can make a huge difference in the creativity and professional appearance of your photos.  However, different photography backgrounds add different elements to a photo, so choosing the right backdrop can be as critical as choosing the correct camera or lens. With so many different types of studio backdrops available though, sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming to figure out which background is right for your shoot.

Before Choosing a Photo Background

Before selecting a background, there are a few initial factors you should consider. You’ll want to have a mental composition of how you would like your final shot to appear, this way you can make an informed decision based on your unique needs. Your subject, whether your photo is intended for commercial or personal use, and the location of the shoot can all be important factors to consider.

Some people say the first consideration when choosing backgrounds for photography is cost. Prices do vary widely based on size and style, but the cheapest may not always be the best. If it doesn’t suit your needs or doesn’t light properly you’re not saving money in the long run. Size can also be a crucial factor to consider also. Sometimes bigger is better as you may want to allow plenty of shot framing flexibility. You may think you’re doing a head shot, but could get into trouble if your subject decides on a full body shot and you can’t cover the background.

Backgrounds for Photos Once you have an idea of your unique needs, you will be able to make a much more informed decision about the best backdrop for your specific shoot.

Types of Photography Backgrounds

Vinyl Backgrounds

  • Available in 8’x10, 9’x10′, 8’x20′ or 9’x20′
Vinyl backgrounds work great for in-studio photo shoots providing a seamless and smooth textured backdrop. Many photographers use vinyl because of its ability to soak up light. They are also long and can easily accommodate a variety of poses, and work with most standard backdrop support systems. Infinity Vinyl  Backdrops come with a non-reflective matte finish (providing a glare-free background), are easily cleaned with a damp sponge, and its sturdy core prevents wrinkles. However,  transporting this backdrop can be difficult which is why vinyl works best for in-studio shoots.

cat on gray backdrop

Learn more about vinyl backgrounds!

Collapsible Backgrounds

  • Opens to 5′ x 6′, collapses to just 26″
If you do most of your shoots on-location, are constantly on-the-go, or just prefer location-flexibility, a collapsible background can be a convenient and practical solution. Many collapsible backdrops can be easily carried and usually pop out to about six feet long, so they don’t need much of a support system. Many collapsible backgrounds are also reversible,  allowing  you to conveniently offer two different color backgrounds available for your on-location photo shoot.

monsoon collapsible backdropPhoto by Ryan Walsh

Learn more about collapsible backgrounds!

Muslin Backgrounds

  • Available in 5’x7′, 5’x10′, 9’10″x12,  9’10″x24′ ‘, 8’x10′, 10’x10′, 10’x12′, 10’x20′, and 10’x24’
Muslin backdrops can be used for a variety of purposes, are light weight, washable and usually cost-effective. They can vary dramatically in cost, size, and functionality. At Backdrop Express, we offer wide range of colors, sizes, and styles including: solid colored muslin, reversible muslin and hand-painted muslin, plus more. These backdrops can be simply stored or hung straight up with any backdrop stand and can be easily transported to an off-site location.

black cream retro muslinPhoto by Ryan Walsh

Learn more about muslin backgrounds!

Canvas Backgrounds

  • Available in 9’x10 or 9’x20′
Canvas backdrops are tougher and heavier than other types, meaning they’re more durable and tend to last longer. Both muslin and canvas are extremely versatile backgrounds; muslin is a soft fabric, while canvas is much more heavy-weight fabric and tends to be more expensive. Canvas can come in a variety of colors and patterns, and many canvas backdrops are hand-painted.

woman on brown canvas backdrop

Learn more about canvas backgrounds!

Seamless Paper Backgrounds

  • Available in 26″x36′, 53″x36′, 107″x36′, 107″x150′
Seamless paper backgrounds come as large rolls in most every color you can imagine. They tend to be very inexpensive, which means you can buy several rolls in different colors giving you more variety than most fabric backgrounds. Seamless paper can be manufactured as wide as 150′, perfect for large objects (such as cars), theater productions, and video.  While seamless background paper gets dirty faster and tears more easily, it doesn’t have the wrinkle concerns of fabric.

purple seamless paperPhoto by Ryan Walsh

Learn more about seamless paper backgrounds!

Green Screen / Chroma Key Backgrounds

  • Available in paper, vinyl, muslin, and collapsible options
Although green screening, or chroma key photography, is a photography technique and not necessarily a “type” of photography background, it’s such a common background need that we felt it was worth discussing individually. For chroma key photography you’ll need a solid green or blue color that is unlikely to be found in clothing. After the green screen photography session with your subject, in post- production you can easily replace the chroma key background color and with a digital background. Although this method allows for unlimited flexibility when it comes to photo backgrounds, it can be significantly more time consuming and can require expensive software and a talented digital photography editor to be done well.

two girls on green screen

Learn more about green screens!

As you can see, the question of which photographic background to choose can have a lot of answers. The selection process should start with a mental picture so you’ll know exactly which backdrop is best for you.

-Backdrop Express Photography Team

Interested in learning more? Check out more blog posts about photography backdrops, including What Color Seamless Paper Should You Use?

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Comments (7)

  • Lilah


    We had a wonderful photographer who shot our wedding all with natural light and I was very happy with how the pictures turned out.


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  • ratedKG


    Checked all the different links that you’ve posted here, good examples. I bought a muslin backdrop (hand-painted and color-washed) last year and they are still useful for me.


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  • erick holloway


    Very helpful advice in this particular article!
    It is the little changes that make the greatest changes.


  • canvas prints


    The background is so important. this post was so helpful. thank you.


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