Seamless paper is a staple item for most studio photographers. The color variety, consumable nature and high quality background it provides have made it a very popular choice for professional photography backdrops for over 60 years. However, if you’re a beginner photographer new to the studio, there are a few tips we can offer for working with your first seamless paper roll in order to produce the best results and to understand how to use it most effectively.
Best UsesWhile a seamless paper backdrop can be an ideal background option for nearly any style of photo, there are a few cases where it really is your best and most logical choice.
- Cake Smash shoots
- Food photography
- Pet photos
- Baby portraits
- When a bright, bold color or a seamless, infinity backdrop is desired
SizesSeamless paper is available in several different widths and lengths. If you have difficulty envisioning what exactly 53″ or 107″ looks like, here are a couple examples of subjects or types of shoots that best fit a certain size.
- 26 in x 36 ft (approximately 2 ft 2 in x 12 yards) – This size is ideal for tabletop photography of small items
- 53 in x 36 ft (approximately 4 ft 5 in x 12 yards) – This width works for kids, headshots and up to 3/4 body shots
- 86 in x 36 ft (approximately 7ft 2 in x 12 yards) – This midsized 86″ seamless paper is ideal for small studio spaces that can’t accommodate the 107″ size, but require more flexibility than a 53″, for sessions like moving babies or couples
- 107 in x 36 ft (approximately 8 ft 11 in x 12 yards) – This larger width is great for full body portraits, groups and moving subjects
- 107 in x 150 ft (approximately 8 ft 11 in x 50 yards) – This longer roll is a nice option if you shoot frequently and have a large enough studio to store it in
1. Use a Backdrop StandA seamless paper roll needs to be hung on a stand or other mounting device. The paper is wound around a thick cardboard tube, made for sliding a crossbar through to hold evenly across. An alternative we’ve seen to hanging the roll on a stand is to first lay the roll on the ground, and pull up the paper as high as you’ll need it to pin to the wall. This method does not work if you will be needing a completely seamless wall to floor background.
2. Clip the Paper to the StandIn most instances, you will need to use a few pony clamps to secure your paper background to the stand. Because of the weight of the roll, it may start to unravel further than you need if it is not secured.
3. Tape the Seamless Paper to the GroundYou’ll also want to keep some gaffers tape around when setting up your seamless paper backdrop. If you are pulling the paper out past the floor for full body shots, place a few strips of tape along the edges of the paper laying on the floor to prevent it from curling up. A flat surface is important to extending the life of the paper as it will decrease tears and crinkles.
4. Place a Sheet of Plexiglas on the Floor over the PaperIf cutting off and throwing away a few feet of your seamless paper every time you use it sounds no fun, consider investing in a sheet of Plexiglas to place over the paper once it’s laid out on the ground. The clear, thin sheet will cover the paper from foot prints, dirt marks and tears from your models walking across it. It also adds a cool, reflective sheen to the floor of your photo.
Super White Seamless Paper | Photo by Posh Iris Photography
5. No Cleaning Necessary!Backdrop paper is just that – paper. It’s a delicate product by nature, but can offer a lot to your photography given its value. One of the most convenient characteristics of it is its consumable nature – don’t worry about wiping or cleaning dirt marks off of the end of your roll, just slide a box cutter (box cutters deliver a cleaner edge than scissors) along the width of the roll to take off the soiled portion and discard.
7. Store VerticallyThe best way to store your seamless paper roll when not in use is in a vertical position. This is to prevent gravity from weighing the paper down on itself over time and causing ripples in the roll, as it would do if left hanging on the backdrop stand or lying horizontally on the ground. If you need to store your paper roll horizontally for a short time that is perfectly acceptable, but it’s not something you want to leave permanently.
8. Store in a Dry EnvironmentPaper does not stay smooth in humid or wet environments. Wetness in the air will cause wrinkles in the roll, which does not make for a seamless, smooth background.
What was one problem you encountered using paper backgrounds for the first time?
-Backdrop Express Photography Team
Interested in reading more about the advantages of seamless paper? Check out 4 Reasons to Use Seamless Paper!
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