Using Collapsible Photo Backdrops Outdoors

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

black white collapsible backdropPhoto by Ryan Walsh

A photo backdrop allows you to take photographs against a fixed background, which may be preferable to a natural background. This often occurs in portrait photography when a room is too small for a portrait. You may also need a photo backdrop in outdoor photography when the natural background is too distracting. Photographers typically use a collapsible backdrop for remote locations due to their portability.

Frame

A collapsible photo backdrop is typically limited to a width of five feet and a height of seven feet, requiring you to consider your frame carefully. This means that you need to align your subject with the backdrop to ensure the backdrop fully wraps the subject. Your ability to work within this frame depends on the following three factors:
  • Size of the subject
  • Movement of the subject
  • Distance between the subject and the backdrop
Larger subjects require larger backdrops, and you will need to position an adult almost perfectly to use a collapsible backdrop. The smaller size of children  makes them easier to keep in the frame, except they typically have difficulty remaining still. The difficulty of keeping the subject in frame also increases as the distance from the subject to the backdrop increases.

portrait of young woman on white backdrop

A collapsible backdrop works well with adults when taking head shots and mid shots. It also works with children if you maintain their interest so that they keep still. This restriction generally means that you will need to limit your use of collapsible backdrops to seated head shots when the subject is a child. Subjects larger than an adult person or moving subjects are generally unsuitable for collapsible backdrops.

Uses

A busy background can draw the viewer’s eye away from the subject, whether you’re in an indoor or outdoor location. You can use backdrops in portrait photography to hide household clutter, which can be distracting for indoor sessions. Some backgrounds in outdoor photography may be too dramatic, such as busy parks or streets. This can cause the viewer to focus on the scenery, rather than the subject. Neutral portable backdrops include Gray or Earth Tone.

Storage

The primary advantage of a collapsible backdrop is its small size when not in use. These backdrops will typically collapse down to a disc with a diameter of two feet, allowing them to fit snugly into a carry bag. Collapsing the backdrop can be difficult at first, but you will be able to accomplish this very quickly with practice. These carry bags typically have transparent windows, allowing you to determine at a glance which backdrop is in which bag. This is especially beneficial when you take more than one collapsible backdrop to a remote shoot. Some photographers also attach a ball-bungee to the carry bag’s handle, allowing them to store the backdrop on a hangar.

spring essence collapsible backdropPhoto by Ryan Walsh

Color

A collapsible backdrop is typically opaque, allowing each side to have a different color. This further increases its usefulness by potentially halving the number of backdrops you need to take with you. An opaque backdrop also means that you can get good color without using another backdrop as a primer. Collapsible backdrops often have a darker side and a lighter side. The light side is useful for seamless shots, while the dark side of the backdrop produces more dramatic shots. An additional use for the Black/White Reversible Collapsible Backdrop is to use the black side as a flag and a white side as a reflector. This requires you to keep the backdrop still, which can be a challenge in outdoor settings.

Construction

The quality of a collapsible backdrop’s construction is generally very high. A wide metal frame allows the backdrop to remain steady after you position it into place. The material should remain smooth even after prolonged use, and it can be cleaned easily by steaming or spot washing. Some collapsible backdrops have Velcro straps attached to the frame, allowing you to secure the backdrop without the use of additional clamps.

Have you needed to use a portable backdrop outdoors? Did it work for your photo shoot?

-Backdrop Express Photography Team

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