Cameras and Equipment Technology

How to Choose the Right Photography Backdrop

1 - How to Choose the Right Photography Backdrop

So, you’ve picked up some strobes to assist mild your topics and are in the means of establishing your studio. This can be a very thrilling time: a lot to photograph, complete management of the lighting, what a chance…. however how to select the proper images backdrop? How you shoot and what you shoot will have an effect on your determination, as will your finances.

1 - How to Choose the Right Photography Backdrop1 - How to Choose the Right Photography Backdrop

Mannequin with a black seamless paper backdrop

Photography backdrops make your pictures pop

In the event you haven’t figured it out already – you quickly will – most photographers understand that considered one of the important options of a very good photograph is the factor that no one notices: the background. When it really works, individuals “oohh” and “aahh”. Nevertheless, if it doesn’t work, individuals can’t work out why they don’t like your picture. One in every of the secrets and techniques of any profitable photographer is paying consideration to what’s behind your topic. This is applicable to any photograph, not simply these taken in the studio. You may want to contemplate buying business backdrops that may considerably enhance the high quality of your photographs.

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Mannequin with a white seamless paper backdrop

Past lighting

Assuming you already know what’s concerned in lighting a studio (if not verify this out), the subsequent query is what to use as a backdrop. There are a number of varieties and sizes with execs and cons for every. Backdrop mounting and portability are additionally vital.

It’s one factor to have a backdrop to be used in your studio, however what in case you are requested to arrange some other place? How do you make your backdrop moveable? What goes greatest with the topic? In case you are capturing a white topic, you in all probability don’t need a white backdrop as a result of the white might disappear into the background (similar with black on black). The colour doesn’t want to be complementary (though it helps whether it is) however ought to present distinction. Lighting tips can alleviate a few of this, however typically it’s simply simpler to use a contrasting backdrop.

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Mannequin with a white seamless paper backdrop


There are a number of kinds of backdrops however all of them perform equally. All of them have a tendency to be comparatively skinny and solely meant as backgrounds (not designed for topics to work together with). Then may be constructed of seamless paper, muslin, hand-painted canvas or vinyl. The costliest, least versatile, and the fanciest backdrop is the cyclorama or cyc studio.

Seamless paper

Seamless paper is a flexible and cheap backdrop and is a staple for a lot of studios. They’re obtainable in lots of colours, with the commonest being black or white. You’ll be able to produce grey from white backdrops by altering your lighting setup, so a devoted grey backdrop isn’t needed. You may also modify white backgrounds with gelled lighting to created coloured backgrounds.

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Product photograph on a seamless white paper backdrop

There are execs of utilizing seamless paper: the look is clear, you possibly can modify the background colours with lighting, and the photographs may be minimize out for background alternative. The cons of utilizing seamless paper are: the rolls could be awkward to transport if a large measurement (even simply from the retailer to the studio), the paper may be simply broken, and the backgrounds haven’t any texture. As well as, in case you have coloured paper, the background colours can seep into the edges of your topic.

Seamless paper offers flooring in addition to the backdrop and not using a seen interface between the flooring and the background. This makes it best for product images in addition to studio photographs. The shortage of a seam makes the picture seem to float with an infinite background.


Muslin backdrops are constructed from a cotton material. They arrive in numerous weights and sizes and may be dyed in a single colour, have colour splotches, or be hand painted. As a result of muslin backdrops have been in use for a very long time, some photographers don’t pay a lot consideration to them. They’re, nevertheless, very moveable and usually look good. One other nice function is which you can simply wash them if dirty. Nevertheless, chances are you’ll want to clear bigger sizes in a business machine. Muslin backdrops can look trendy or retro, relying upon the fashion of lighting. They’re an incredible addition to each photographer’s arsenal of backdrops.

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Mannequin in entrance of dyed muslin backdrop

Comparable to paper, you need to use longer muslin as flooring for the topic. Strong colours perform very similar to seamless paper, however you want to be cautious about folds in the muslin as they are often distracting from the topic. Muslin backdrops produce lots of the similar results as a seamless paper however are a lot simpler to transport.

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Canine in entrance of muslin backdrop displaying flooring

There are a number of downsides to muslin backdrops. Relying upon the way you mild them, you may even see folds in the material behind your topic. As your topic strikes, the backdrop may additionally transfer, disrupting your background. Individuals might even journey over the materials as they stroll throughout the muslin. In case you are not cautious, strong coloured muslins will wrinkle, detracting from the look of the background. As a result of muslins have been well-liked for therefore a few years, sure types seem notably previous or dated. Photographers want to take care in selecting the fashion of the muslin backdrops.

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Canine in entrance of muslin backdrop

Hand-painted canvas

In case you have ever flipped by means of a replica of Vainness Truthful or seen pictures from Annie Leibovitz, you realize the look of a hand-painted canvas backdrop. They appear superb. These studio backdrops are hand painted onto giant sheets of canvas. The paint is completed in a number of layers to give the notion of depth and texture. Those utilized in lots of the trend or movie-star photoshoots have a tendency to be specialty canvases which might be customized made. The trouble to paint the backdrops, and the giant area required to create them, tends to make these costly.

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Cat in entrance of hand-painted canvas backdrop

Hand-painted canvas backdrops present a vibrant look. A lighting change doesn’t generate this richness, however purely due to the reflective surfaces on the backdrop. The paint provides texture, and the numerous layers of the paint add depth and tonality you can’t obtain with seamless paper. As a result of they’re hand-painted, every canvas tends to be distinctive.

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Hand-painted canvas backdrop

The downsides of hand-painted canvas backdrops are value and care in dealing with. You don’t need individuals stepping in your canvas backdrops as a result of they’re simply broken and troublesome to clear. That stated, the visible impact of a hand-painted canvas backdrop could be beautiful.


Vinyl backdrops consist of huge pictures printed on pliable vinyl. Many pictures are appropriate for a vinyl backdrop, however this kind is restricted to the vertical floor in the background. Flooring is separate. You should purchase separate vinyl sheets for flooring to simulate flooring (similar to hardwood flooring).

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Unimpressed canine in entrance of a vinyl backdrop

Vinyl backdrops can function uncommon or artistic backgrounds. They’re nice for youngsters, events or occasions and are washable, in order that they work for several types of cake smash, meals struggle or spray pictures (watch out about the remainder of your studio). Additionally, they’re fairly pliable to allow them to be moved about with out a lot problem. Lastly, they will function pictures that seem three dimensional (like a bookcase).

On the different hand, vinyl backdrops are somewhat reflective, so that you want to be cautious about how your lights are arrange. You additionally want to remember that the backgrounds are two dimensional despite the fact that they will seem to be three dimensional.

Cycloramas or Cyc Studios

A cyclorama or cyc studio is a hard and fast (inbuilt place) backdrop consisting of two intersecting wall sections which were curved seamlessly into each other and the flooring in order that there are not any seen corners. By curving the corners, the background flows from wall to wall to flooring.  A cyclorama is a sensible and sturdy backdrop. Nevertheless, additionally it is the least versatile (it gained’t transfer) and is just one shade (often white). It makes the topic seem to be floating with an infinite background and is a good way to create reduce outs to modify your background.

This kind of backdrop takes plenty of area, effort and time, however makes for nice pictures.

Sizes and dealing with

Seamless paper doesn’t often have any texture. It is available in giant rolls of various widths, with 53 inches and 107 inches being the two commonest sizes. Seamless paper additionally offers the flooring in entrance of the background with no nook edge. As a result of it’s paper, you want to concentrate on soiled or moist footwear as a result of they depart marks and may injury the paper. When the paper is just too broken, you roll out extra paper and discard the soiled or broken part. The rolls usually have numerous paper, someplace in the vary of 9-12 yards (27-36 ft). White seamless paper is usually ideally suited for a studio arrange whenever you need to reduce out the background and exchange it with one thing else.

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Santa in entrance of black muslin backdrop

Muslin backdrops come in several types: normal, washed, crumpled and painted by hand. Normal sizes are 10 ft extensive by 12 or 24 ft lengthy. They are often difficult to handle however cowl a large space. Ideally, they arrive sewn with a pocket at the prime that permits you to run it on a rod. Folds in the backdrop can evoke an older photographic type, so most modern photographers attempt to flatten out the muslin. Wrinkle elimination typically requires a steamer.

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Mannequin with a big muslin backdrop

As a result of canvas is a a lot heavier materials, these backdrops sometimes come on rolls. For those who don’t handle them as rolls, they are often troublesome to deal with. Commonplace sizes are about 6 ft large by eight ft tall. Most suppliers have a variety of sizes. Canvas tends to cling in stretched out to keep away from any folds. In case you are doing full-length pictures, you’ll need to contemplate what you’re utilizing for the flooring.

Vinyl backdrops differ in measurement. Comparable to canvas, you want to stretch them to get rid of folds. Some vinyl backdrops include printed flooring (similar to hardwood flooring) and can be utilized collectively, offered you cope with the interface. Stretching the vinyl on the mounting permits for the picture to current nicely. When capturing with vinyl, you want to make sure that the lighting doesn’t mirror into the digital camera lens. In case you’ve used a backdrop with a three-dimensional picture, a mirrored image will make it clear that the background isn’t actual.


There are a number of choices for mounting backdrops. The figuring out issue tends to be the measurement and sort of backdrop you’re utilizing, in addition to the frequency with which you propose on altering them. Typically, you need some potential to change and blend up the backgrounds.

The essential choices for mounting are fastened bars or moveable stands. When you have a everlasting studio and by no means plan on taking any of your backgrounds on the street, fastened bars or rollers are superb. You mount them on the ceiling or wall in order that they’re suitably excessive, and permit the paper or material to roll off. Mounting on the ceiling means the backdrop might be excessive sufficient in your tallest topics. Framing might be finished merely with conduit and small measurement piping. There are additionally giant electrically managed rollers out there. The prices can vary from very low cost to very costly.

13 - How to Choose the Right Photography Backdrop

13 - How to Choose the Right Photography Backdrop

Stands, permit for flexibility of the configuration. Some stands are meant for backdrops and sometimes come as a set with clamps included. With moveable backdrops, clamps play an integral position in making the background clean and even. It’s notably the case with muslin or canvas backdrops, however seamless paper additionally advantages from strategic use of clamps to make sure that it doesn’t maintain unspooling as you hold the rolls.

There are additionally pop-up stands that you should use for canvas or vinyl backgrounds. You merely clamp the background to the edges of a springy stand. There are a number of techniques for this, and lots of include their very own backgrounds as an entire set.


No matter your backdrop selection, hold the topic a minimum of three ft away from it to keep away from casting shadows onto the backdrop. This all ties to the strategic use of lighting setups. Your aim is to have the backdrop disappear behind the topic, making it the focus.

Some backdrops, notably white seamless paper, may have to be lit individually. For those who don’t mild the backdrop you’ll have uneven colours behind the topic that detract from the picture or forestall the straightforward masking of the backdrop.

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Canine in entrance of muslin backdrop

Basically, retaining backdrops clear is usually a problem. Some are simpler to clear than others. Nevertheless, hand-painted canvas and paper backdrops can’t be cleaned with out damaging the surfaces, whereas muslin and vinyl backdrops are simpler to clear. Chances are you’ll want to wash giant muslins commercially. Additionally it is necessary that any washing will get carried out in such a means that the materials don’t develop into altered or broken.


Selecting the proper studio backdrop can have an effect on the temper and general really feel of your pictures. My private favourite is hand-painted canvas, however I’ve used all of them (besides a cyclorama) successfully. Using backdrops work hand in glove together with your chosen lighting setup, and you must think about each collectively. If used properly, you can also make your photographs pop by having the backdrops pull focus onto your topics.


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