How To Build A 2 Sided Background With Cheap Galvanized Iron Sheets

It’s always important to keep your eyes open for inspiration because you can’t tell when you’ll find one. I was driving on the expressway when I saw a billboard for a woman’s fashion wear, and I really loved the background they used, I think they shot it in one of those big cargo containers, so I was inspired to create the look DIY style.


The How To:

The first thing I did was to buy 2 pieces of 8 feet x 3 feet Galvanized Iron Sheets (“Yero” in Tagalog) for about USD $4 a piece (they are called Galvanized Steel Corrugated Roof Panels on Homedepot and not far off on the price)

How to (6)
I wanted to use both sides of the sheets for the project – this meant that I can’t mount it on a wall. A least not in a permanent way. So to steady the sheets, I placed two wooded planks at the bottom, and nailed them to the sheet as a base. Or as a way to ‘hang’ them off a wall.

How to (4)
TIP: The corners of the sheets are sharp. Fold them so you don’t have any sharp edges. (I learned this the hard)

How to (2)


How to (3)
I thought of doing two sides, so that I can create two different looks:  The iron side of the sheet was left untouched  – I really liked the reflective surface ,and I think it can generate some interesting industrial looks.

The colored side was painted blue with some leftovers from the DIY wooden table.

How to (1)

How to Light it

Lighting metal is not trivial and depending on the look you are after you may use several ideas. I am also gonna touch on how to light the painted side, though this is way more trivial.

The Iron Reflective surface.

The Iron part of the background has a very reflective surface which is both  a good and a bad thing. The first setup we did ‘was just a simple beauty dish on the top of the subject, lit and modeled by a friend which is also a New York based photographer, Joseph Padiernos (follow him on instagram). I placed a white illustration board as reflector below the subject to fill in the shadows.

beauty dish


beauty dish (5)


beauty dish (3)


beauty dish (8)

beauty dish (1)

For this shot, I bounced my light thru a seamless paper on the right side of the subject.


I also wanted to play around with a low key shot. I started with a main light above the subject with a snoot.

low key

I added to more lights on the left side to add colored reflections on the sheet. One flash with CTB gel and the other one with a CTO gel.

cto gels (1) cto gels (2)

A ringflash straight to the subject. “Shot by my girlfriend, and me as the subject”

ring flash

The Skyblue side.

I went with two lights one mainlight on the right side thru an umbrella, and a fill light on the other side also with an umbrella.

blue (1)

blue (3)

blue (4)There you have it, keep your eyes open to things you like. They are often not as expensive as they look.

  • Ian Hecht

    Wow – I really like the look you’ve gotten here – simple is sometimes best!

    • LSG


  • Wil Fry

    I like it! For me, the problem would be storage space… Maybe someday. :-)

    • LSG

      I just leave it outside my studio door when I don’t need it

      • Wil Fry

        Right now, my “studio” is my living room. And it’s usually occupied by a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old. :-)

  • Charlie Hendershot

    I like this, back to the basics of diyphotography. Simple cost effective ideas that anyone can utilize.

    • LSG

      Cheers :)

  • Cedric

    Great idea and great results !

  • jakecarvey

    In general I find the specular reflections distracting, especially on the light blue side. Maybe some dulling spray or clear matte varnish. Although there are some nice looks with the additional colored lights on the reflective side.

  • Pascal

    Many thanks for sharing this great idea.

  • PJG

    That’s a great DIY project to make your own background