Have you decided to make the move to your own studio? If so, you’re probably spending a lot of time deciding on which lights, stands and light meters to purchase. Have you given any thought to what photo background you will use? Here are 5 tips to help you select the perfect studio backdrop for your new space.
1. What is Your Budget?
Perhaps the biggest item photographers worry about is cost, but cost doesn’t always equal value. For example, a roll of seamless paper (107” x 12 yards) runs about $50.00, whereas a 10’x10’ hand painted muslin backdrop runs about $110. While initially twice the price of the paper, a muslin background will last longer, whereas you will run out of the seamless and need to purchase it again.
2. What Type of Photography Do You Do?
Are you shooting high school senior portraits, product photography or glamour? Do you create composite images? Do you prefer high-key or low-key photography? Your answers can help you narrow down the overwhelming selection of backdrops available.
A photographer specializing in composite imagery will probably look for a simple and clean backdrop, or maybe even a Chroma Key backdrop, which can make compositing easier. A photographer who shoots high school senior portraits might look for backdrops with interesting patterns or designs.
3. What Material Should You Choose?
The materials most commonly used in photography backdrops are paper, muslin, canvas and vinyl. Paper is heavy, can tear, gets dirty and requires a backdrop stand. However, its plain look can create a really nice backdrop and there are a multitude of great colors available.
Muslin backdrops can be printed or painted with interesting designs, shapes or textures, are portable and can be used in ways not limited to hanging on a stand. Muslin can be folded and stored in a small bag or case.
Canvas has many of the same advantages in terms of available designs, but is heavier and are generally used on stands. Canvas hangs flat, which can be important in some type of portraiture, such as corporate photography. On the downside, they need to be stored and transported rolled-up.
Lastly, vinyl backdrops offer a long-lasting seamless look that is easily cleaned. However, they are heavy and generally need to be wall-mounted and are thus best suited for permanent installation in the studio.
Will you need to use your backdrop outside the studio, such as for corporate portraits at the client’s office? If so, ease of transportation is a major consideration, making muslin is the best choice. It can be folded or rolled up, carried to the location and hung using a backdrop stand or gaffer’s tape. Muslin’s light weight gives the photographer flexibility in how it can be used.
The size of your studio will determine how big your backdrop will be. This seems obvious but can’t be overlooked. A muslin or canvas backdrop may require a backdrop stand, whereas the vinyl backdrop can be secured directly to the studio wall.
Backdrop selection may not be as sexy as a set of Profoto D-1 Air lights, but given backdrops actually are in the photographs you create, selecting the right one can help you create beautiful images.
What were your reasons for choosing your photography backdrops?Interested in learning more about photo background options? Check out Advantages of Seamless Paper, Muslin & Digital Backdrops!
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