5 Tips for Creating Realistic Portraits with Scenic Backdrops

Written by Backdrop Express Photography Team on . Posted in Photography Backdrops, Photography Tips, Printed Backdrops

Scenic Backdrops Scenic backdrops are the ideal solution for photographers looking to recreate a special scene in a specific location that’s unreachable or inefficient to shoot at, such as a European castle or mystical forest. A one-of-a-kind scenic background is one popular method for creating unique portraits without leaving the studio.

While scenic backdrops allow for nearly limitless locations to be reproduced for studio photography, they do require extra preparation and guidelines to adhere to in order to create as realistic of a final portrait as possible. Here are 5 tips for working with studio scenic backdrops:

1. Find the Correct Aspect Ratio

When setting up a scene that features an indoor space such as an abandoned building backdrop, your goal as the photographer is to direct the position of the model to fit the space. If you aren’t paying attention, you could wind up with an 8 foot tall looking model towering over a small room! Set the necessary distance between the model and backdrop to achieve the correct aspect ratio. This small task is one of the most important for creating a realistic scenic portrait.

Abandoned Building BackdropsFeaturing: Piano Playroom Printed Backdrop

2. Throw the Backdrop Slightly Out of Focus

Wide format printing required for large scale backdrops are typically low resolution. You might find it best to throw the backdrop out of focus slightly to help blend the background with the model or object in the foreground. Sizing your final images to 72dpi from 300dpi is also another method to blending the backdrop and model for a cohesive image.

Scenic BackdropsFeaturing: Statue of Liberty Printed Backdrop

3. Eliminate Random Shadows & Replicate Existing Light Patterns

Lighting is a very important aspect to creating a realistic portrait with a scenic backdrop. Be very conscientious of the light patterns already displayed in the background design. If your scenic backdrop is a long hallway with morning light spilling in from the windows, experiment with the positions of your lights to aim to replicate the same angles and tones. Eliminate random shadows that wouldn’t make sense with the existing light patterns. This task can be one of the more difficult to creating a realistic setting, but take your time and experiment to find the perfect light for your model.

Scenic BackdropsFeaturing: Forgotten Hall Printed Backdrop

4. Match Wardrobe and Props

If you are working with a special, unique scene, it only makes sense to dress up the rest of the setting to match. A model wearing street clothes standing against an elegant ballroom background would look very strange and very unrealistic. Plan wardrobe, hair and makeup accordingly, as well as accent props to correspond with the time period, location, colors and theme of the scenic backdrop.

Scenic BackdropsFeaturing: Saloon Doors Printed Backdrop

5. Eliminate All Wrinkles and Waves

Most times as you pull a fabric backdrop from storage before a shoot, it will need to be steamed free of wrinkles. Our poly/cotton and polyester weave fabric materials are both wrinkle-resistant, and so steaming is usually a quick task. For best results, we recommend steaming the backside of the backdrop, so as to not risk damaging the printed image on the front side with excessive heat.

Employ the use of clamps on both sides of the backdrop to the stands to pull the material taut. When displaying a realistic scene, the sight of any wrinkle or wave will decrease the realism of the scene drastically. Below is a side-by-side example of the difference between letting the brick wall backdrop hang naturally vs. clamping it taut to the stand. The wave in the top left corner of the first image is subtle yet noticeable, whereas the second image provides a clean, flat image.

Scenic BackdropsFeaturing: Mint Brick Printed Backdrop

By utilizing these tips when preparing and working through your next scenic photo shoot, you’ll be setting yourself up for a successful, beautiful and realistic portrait you can proudly show off to your clients and followers!

-Backdrop Express Photography Team

Interested in learning more about working with scenic backdrops? Check out: When is a Scenic Background the Right Photo Backdrop?

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Comments (1)

  • LG


    Thanks for your time and the information! Very Helpful!


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