Friday, 3 August 2012


Backdrops bring different moods to the picture. They let you use different light or impose using certain lighting. They can make a certain Photoshop effect useful or make it a big no-no.

Anyway, I want to discuss which, up to me, are the must-have backdrops and why.

Let's start with the white backdrop. I wish we could do without it but we can't. To me it's just flat and boring but it's simply good for many things and we DO need it. The secrets for making great shots using this backdrop are very easy to spot. Let's mention them anyway:

  • Avoid shadows
  • If you want to make sure the background is really white then burn (overexpose) it. I could give you a tutorial on this but at the moment I am hoping most of you will figure this one out.
  • Leave something like (at least) a yard of distance between the backdrop and the object.

studio shots all rights reservedStudio shots all rights reserved

Next up it's the black. It's one of my personal favourites. I am simply having too much fun with this backdrop. Here are my suggestions.
  • If you want to make black really black use low ISO and the highest possible sync speed to achieve better results.
  • Avoid shadows
  • Make it more interesting by setting up a backlight between the model and the backdrop with a red or blue gel to make a halo around the model.
  • Apply vignette in Photoshop. Please do NOT ask how. Check youtube and you'll find hundreds of different tutorials.

studio shots all rights reserved
studio shots all rights reserved

studio shots all rights reserved

My third favourite backdrop is the so called "Old Master" backdrop. Google it and you'll find out that there are way too many versions of it available. Pick one according to your taste. It really blew my mind how I managed to escape from the flat studio shots by using such a backdrop. It gave depth to all the shots and allowed me to use all my props. Lighting is also simpler - you can get away with one or two lights and still take awesome shots. So:
  • Avoid shadows
  • Keep an average shutter speed (1/125)
  • Use props
  • Applying vignette is not necessary but a matter of taste

I do not want to go on and explain why I do not like grey and all the single-color backdrops that some experiment with. I just like to stick to the classics and I know that people will keep coming back to these because it's not a matter of fashion, it's a matter of perception.

Camera, lights, backdrop! Go!

All the best,

Kamen Kunchev


  1. Very useful tips, thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks! I will be posting more photography articles soon. I will appreciate it if the readers let me know what they are interested in.

  2. Yes I agree in your statement. This is a very useful tips especially to those beginners.