For those of us born in the 1970s and ’80s, this new phenomenon of mottled, cloudy backdrops appearing in modern portraits is an odd one. You see, back when we were kids, we had horrendously cheesy family and school portraits taken in front of these bizarrely arranged patterns, so to us, it’s pretty weird to see these painted, cloudy backdrops now grace the covers of Vogue and Tatler.
Mainly, I do photography for fun, and I like experimenting with random stuff to get unusual effects in my photos. For my birthday last year, a got a brilliant shiny cosmetic purse from a friend. It instantly became my favorite traveling companion, but I also immediately saw the potential for using it in my photos.
There have been a few occasions this year that I have used this little purse for photography, combining it with the LED flashlight on my smartphone. And I must say: I’m surprised by the funky lighting effects you can achieve with just two everyday items!
Folding reflectors, softboxes and backgrounds are awesome. There’s no two ways about it. They pack down really small for transport or storage, they pop up quickly when you need them, and they’re really lightweight. As a location shooter, they’re perfect for me. Even my white balance card folds away like a reflector. Whatever helps pack the gear down into the smallest and lightest space possible is welcome.
But once they start getting to a certain size, they can become quite troublesome. Gravity kicks in, which then either becomes your best friend or your worst enemy. But there is a simple way to fold up these giant reflectors and backgrounds. In this video, photographer Jason Lanier shows us exactly how it’s done.
Guys! Check this out! I own a fair few Gravity Backdrops and absolutely love them to pieces, but the problem I have is time. Sometimes I don’t have the time or the space to setup the canvas backdrop, 2 stands, cross bar, and multiple clips.
So when I’m looking for a quick access but still believable test shot, I needed a cheap alternative to go to.
Check out the result! (I know it’s dark, that’s just my style :D).
When setting up a studio, one of the more difficult decisions that a newer studio shooter must make is which backdrop to get. More often than not, it’s which backdrops (plural) should they get?
Photographer Joe Edelman is going to make it a real easy decision for you with this very informative video. You don’t need to get a whole bunch of backdrops, especially when you’re just starting out with studio work. All you need is grey.
I just finished up a handful of promotional shots with actor Levi Fiehler and it went well. One of our shots was an odd editorial photo with a him sitting next to a head in a box.. because hey, why not?! I used a hand painted backdrop and a faux wood floor and I lit it dark and moody. I was happy with the way it turned out except for one factor. I wish it didn’t look like it was shot with a studio backdrop. If it looked like it was on location, the shot might work better. The only “giveaway” that it was done in a studio was the roll at the bottom of the backdrop. So I realized if I put a piece of wood molding along the bottom of the backdrop, it would look like a wall and a floor instead of a backdrop and a floor.
Some of the iconic portrait photographers, like Annie Leibovitz have a very common look for their studio portraits, they are shot against a hand painted textured backdrop. You know what I am talking about. Those gorgeous backdrops with random soft patters. Those backdrops are hand painted on canvas (just like works of art), and show great details and spectacular color.
With winters lasting for 6 months in Toronto, I find that outdoor shoots are put on hold for pretty much the entire time. Because of that, I try improving my studio work during the indoor hermitting season as much as possible. That way once spring kicks in I can go back to shooting outdoors at full power.
All of my previous studio work (which is limited) involved either a blank wall in my house or a blank wall in my house with a grey paper backdrop that I purchased at Henry’s for $40 CAD. This year, when I was asked to shoot an album cover, I knew it was time to figure out something a little more sophisticated. Cue in NEW BACKDROPS!