Do It Yourself: Backdrops

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A nice, clean backdrop can quickly enhance any photo. I personally prefer the simple and clean when it comes to backdrops. So for the sake of this tutorial, I will avoid discussing more intricate scenic backdrops and focus on low cost solutions for more versatile and simple backdrops.


The most popular backdrop is probably the muslin backdrop.  

Whether handpainted or tie dyed, these will generally cost you a couple hundred dollars or maybe $50 (for a decent sized backdrop). I got mine on Ebay for $35 plus shipping and handling, and I still think that's a lot. 

But muslin backdrops are classic. And if you are looking into portraiture, a nice handpainted muslin backdrop is a worthwhile investment.

(If you must invest a muslin backdrop, at least save yourself some money on the backdrop stand. You can easily make your own out of PVC pipes or just hang it up like a tapestry.)

Advantages of using a muslin backdrop:

  • Very classy
  • Great for professional portraiture

Disadvantages of using a muslin backdrop:
  • Expensive in itself
  • May also require expensive backdrop stands
  • To change the color, you pretty much need to buy a new muslin backdrop


A good alternative to the muslin backdrop is to use fabric

Unlike muslin backdrops, fabric backdrops are very cheap. Actually, most don't cost you a thing. Just recycle your bed sheets, a blanket, that couch throw, or maybe even a large shirt.

Even if you have to buy fabric, $5 should be more than enough for backdrop fabric (assuming you don't choose fancy expensive fabric intended for clothing).

You definitely do not need such a large piece of fabric. For macro photos, I often just use a t-shirt as the backdrop.

Advantages of using a fabric backdrop:

  • Affordable
  • A lot of variety to choose from, so easy to change the color
  • Readily accessible; everyone has access to some kind of fabric whether clothing or bed sheets

Disadvantages of using a fabric backdrop:
  • May wrinkle depending on the fabric you choose


Perhaps the simplest backdrop is the plain ol' white wall

I have a fairly large white wall in my room that I often use as a backdrop in photos. I definitely don't use the entire wall in most photos, so if you don't have such a large wall, don't worry. Painted walls work too. I just prefer white walls since white can be color balanced to various light pastel colors in post editing. 

Advantages of using a wall as the backdrop:

  • No set up; just stand in front of it and go
  • Smooth and clean; walls don't wrinkle like other backdrops

Disadvantages of using a wall as the backdrop:
  • To change the backdrop color, you need to paint the wall
  • Not everyone has access to a clean wall
  • Maintenance might be difficult


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