photography backdrops

Finding the Perfect Photography Backdrops

Do you shoot images and wish the photography backdrops looked better?

Perhaps you wish you had a cleaner backdrop for a portrait or perhaps you have the perfect nature shot that would look even better with a mountain composited into the background.

Do not worry! We are here to offer some advice.

One of the biggest challenges any photographer faces is finding the perfect photography backdrops. Technically, a backdrop refers to anything that can be used to enhance the look of the photograph. Put simply, the filling in of a background is the backdrop. Because it is so important to get this right it is important to understand how they work and why.

A standard backdrop can range from a solid colour to something that features artistic images of landscapes or buildings. In most cases, your backdrop will be a physical item that you can use inside of a studio or take with you to an outdoor photography shoot. Typically an indoor shoot will use a material for a backdrop and an outside shoot will use a digital backdrop.

Have a bunch of great backrops? Try your hand at double exposures.

Physical Photography Backdrops

If you are seeking the traditional backdrops for your photos, the most common options are listed here. Each one offers its own appeal, depending on the subject of your photo. Considering the options carefully will help you achieve the results you desire from your photography backdrop.

Muslin Backdrops: A backdrop that is a solid color will provide a formal look, which is the ideal option for shooting serious portraits, pictures for identification cards. Using this backdrop will provide you with a reusable item that is washable when dirty.

Paper backdrops: These are known as paper rolls and provide a one-time use. You can find almost any color or texture for your background, depending on the type of photograph that you are taking.

Painted canvas backdrop: These are typically only seen in a photography studio, mainly due to their heavy weight and large size.

photography backdrops
You can see here a pure black background has been put up to draw the viewers eye to the intended subject. It also adds a great colour contrast. This image was shot with a big black sheet in the background blocking all light.

Digital Photography Backdrops

Another option is to have a library of generic images you know can fit into a background somewhere. For example you could have a folder with different cloud types that you can drop behind some scenery when, on the day, the sky isn’t at its best. Maybe you caught the perfect image but think it would look better with a great sunset in the background. You could pull some images you took of some sunsets a while back ready for this occasion.

Whilst some photographers believe in being in the moment and only showing what was there it is still an art form. You can manipulate and add to images as you see fit. It is something many professional photographers have in their locker and it is an important skill to have.

If you want to shoot more candid shots pick a great background and use the info here

photography backdrops
This is a great image but was actually shot on a day where the sky was grey and dull. Grey skies can sometimes be dramatic but not on this day. A blue sky was added to add a warmer feel.

The Role of Your Backdrop

The backdrop that you choose for your photo can impact its quality and clarity. When you take time to carefully choose your backdrop you will accurately depict the mood and personality of the subject being photographed. For example, if you take a photo of a person standing in front of a garden, you will be depicting a pleasant mood, while a photo of a person taken in front of a black backdrop with shadows crossing the subject’s face will depict a stressful or angry mood.

Stuck for ideas? These beginner tips will help!

Backdrops and Lighting

A backdrop and the lighting will work together to create a quality picture. When you have the proper type of lighting for your subject that complements your background you can highlight aspects of your subject including facial expressions, hair colour and skin colour.

Stuggling to shoot in the suns lighting? We got you!

Shooting in low light? Check this out!

Choosing the Right Photography Backdrop

One of the most crucial factors to consider when choosing a backdrop is whether or not the colors in the background and the foreground coordinate. You should ensure you choose a background color that highlights the subject, without affecting their look. You should never select a background that is going to create a distraction or take attention away from the subject of the photo. The idea is going to be to keep attention in the photo focused on the subject, not highlight the background.

photography backdrops

Tips for Shooting with Your Backdrop

When you begin taking photos of your subject in front of a backdrop you should ensure that they are not standing too close to the backdrop or that the background has blemishes or lines, as this will reduce the quality of the photo. If you decide to use a background that is artistic, be sure the objects do not appear protruded from the head of the subject; this can cause a huge distraction or make your photo appear humorous.

Five Rules for Photography Backdrop Excellence

Selecting a photography backdrop is difficult, but will become easier as you gain experience.

When you begin shooting your subject, the following five rules will ensure that you backdrop works with your subject and that you receive quality results without distractions or bad lighting.

1. Check the backdrop prior to hitting the shutter release. Look for colours that do not fit, bright patches, clashing lines and other things that do not belong.

2. Move the subject of your photo if there are distractions present in the backdrop.

3. Change the angle of your shooting to eliminate background distractions.

4. Use Aperture to blur your background, which will distort any distractions or unwanted items in your background.

5. Fill the frame with your subject.

portrait photography

The Bottom Line

When it comes to selecting and shooting photography backdrops the best way to receive quality results is to evaluate the backdrop that is used in photos. There are many photographers that do not consider the backdrop for photos, which leaves regrets this when reviewing the prints.

There is no doubt that there are a number of options when it comes to your photography backdrops, but it is important that you consider factors including:




Each of these elements work with the backdrop you have chosen to produce quality results. In some cases you will have to use a process of trial and error to determine what works and what does not. Or, check out this lesson, to learn more about capturing awesome photos.

Thanks to Udemy for the content


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