A good portrait really emphasizes the subject or subjects in the frame, so that their face, clothing and body stands out above everything else. In other words, nothing should distract from the subject of the portrait, making the photo backdrops chosen for the portrait more important than a novice photographer may think. Different colors of seamless paper or muslin will convey a different tone and mood to the portrait itself and also change based on the subject’s skin tone, hair color, clothing and eyes. With a keen understanding of how different photography backdrops affect a portrait, a photographer will have more options when it comes to changing the mood of each portrait they shoot. Below is a breakdown of all the different colors that can be used as seamless backdrops for portraits and what is conveyed through each one.
BACK IN BLACKBlack backdrops add a dark yet elegant mood to every portrait. They are ideal for subjects that really want to stand alone in the portrait and have a certain timeless mystique to them. This color of backdrop behind a subject will make the portrait both memorable and mysterious at the same time.
SHADES OF GRAYGray is a neutral color and the effect this has in photography backgrounds is its ability to subtly emphasize the subject without distracting the viewer. Gray backdrops are ideal for product shots of clothing, jewelry or hair on models, especially if they are spot-lighted so they stand out against the background. Because of the subtlety of the gray backdrop color, the viewer’s eye is naturally drawn towards the center of the image.
ROYAL PURPLEPurple backdrops can be tough to shoot with, but may be an ideal color when it comes to shooting children, products or any subject where you want to instill a strong sense of fantasy into the picture. It works from time to time for fashion shoots depending on the model and the products. However, very dark purple can often be subtly depressing, which is probably not a feeling you want to convey through most portraits.
SEEING REDA motivating, energetic and nervous color, red is known to make people hungry, raise their blood pressure and represent passion, regularly associated with love. In short, a red backdrop will call attention to itself, as people are naturally drawn to the color red, like seeing someone in a bright red shirt or a red dress. As reds can be synonymous with both love and rage, it should be used carefully and artistically for portraits and photos of people.
WHAT BROWN CAN DORarely used and often overlooked, a brown background can be the ideal background color for a portrait in a few circumstances. Its earthy neutrality makes the portrait’s subject itself feel very comfortable to the viewer. If you want to convey comfort and familiarity, brown might be a good choice.
CLEAN AND WHITEThe most popular photo backdrop color is white, as white never goes out of style. There is a sense of purity to white backdrops, which makes babies, pets or families perfect for portraits in front of a white background. It not only complements any other color but is also very easy to change: simply place different colored gels over your lights and the white will change to the same color of the gels. yellow backdrop with some darker colors on the subject to really make them stand out in the portrait.
GOING GREENMuch like brown, but used a bit more often, green backdrops encourage a comfortable earthy tone for a portrait. For products or people who are calming and comfortable in their portrait, green is a good option for a backdrop color. However, the darker green you go, money and greed may be subtly implied.
PRETTY IN PINKAs pink is associated with women and love, portraits of feminine women or products meant for women will work well with a pink backdrop. However, sometimes it also works for men or products you would never normally associate with the color, as it will make the portrait stand out more to a viewer. It’s a playful color that draws attention to itself, but does so in a much subtler way than a bright color like yellow.
MACHO BLUEA beautiful, popular color when it comes to photography, a blue backdrop can be ideal for some photos yet absolutely wrong for others. Considering the color naturally suppresses the appetite, it is not something that you want to use with food photos or food product shots. Blue has also been associated with masculinity and is often used behind men in portraits, with darker blue emphasizing power and seriousness of the male subject.
What’s your favorite backdrop color to shoot on?
-Backdrop Express Photography Team
Interested in learning more about shooting with backdrops? Check out 9 Tips for Great Backgrounds!
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