If you’d like to do a little further reading,  here are a couple of links to tutorials that I found helpful before trying this myself. Prop Insanity has a great one with pictures of their actual studio set up using this type of background and Digitial Photography School has a great article on How to Take Beautiful Bokeh Christmas Images . (Bokeh being that gorgeous background blur we all love). You can also check out my Photography board on pinterest for more ideas.  If you do try this, I would LOVE to see your finished product so please come share with us on Facebook.

Football season is nearly upon us and Backdrop Express’s sports and stadium-themed printed backdrops are a great way to capitalize on the bone crunching. They’re available in poly paper or vinyl in either 4 x 5-foot or 5 x 6-foot sizes, or a fabric with sizes ranging from 5 x 6.5 feet up to 10 x 10 feet in a choice of light or heavyweight. The poly paper version is water resistant and has a matte finish. If you opt for vinyl, you’ll get a more durable backdrop that’s also water resistant and has a matte finish. The heavyweight fabric is a polyester/cotton knot that’s washable and wrinkle resistant with a sewn-in rod pocket. The lightweight fabric is a 100 percent polyester weave that Backdrop Express likens to a tablecloth. It, too, is wrinkle resistant, though less than the heavyweight fabric. On the plus side, Backdrop Express says the printed design is “slightly clearer” on the lightweight version. Decisions, decisions. 
Easy to assemble with a whole lot of party magic, our design-a-room sets take the term scene setters to another level. You can turn any space into an immersive party environment with our unique selection. Create unforgettable photo ops and completely transform your party space or venue with these disposable party backdrops. Host a safari with the jungle journey design-a-room background. A carnival backdrop banner kit puts the big tent right in your living room. Mardi Gras street scenes let you bring New Orleans to your guests, no matter where you actually live. The best part? These kits feature cutouts to put over the backdrops for a layered look.

This was a great value for the price. The backdrops photograph well, the lights are great and the stand is good. The stand didn't come with instructions to put it together, but wasn't too difficult to figure out. The backdrops did come with some wrinkles from being folded for shipping, but I have them rolled up together on a wrapping paper roll and they seem to be much better (and I haven't even ironed them yet.) I would recommend this product, especially for beginners like myself.


In the shot above I used a two light setup. The main light, camera left, is a Profoto D1 1,000Ws head inside of a 50 inch Westcott Apollo Softbox. While the idea of mixing what is considered to be a high-end strobe with a budget softbox my not sit right with some, I find the indirect lighting source from a Westcott or Photek to give a really nice and even light. The 60 inch Photek Softlighter, which I also enjoy using, may only cost $95 but gives a really nice, soft, and even light. If these lower cost indirect sources are good enough for the likes of Mario Testino and Annie Leibovitz, then they are good enough for me. Clay Cook did an great article on these lighting sources, "Lighting Like Leibovitz," that you can find here.
If you do many in-studio portrait sessions, you probably have a lot of space set aside for background materials, props, and supports. Add to your stash with canvas backdrops for photography, and selections made of durable, low-maintenance materials, such as cotton and wrinkle-resistant polyester. Several backgrounds come on rolls so you can mount them to autopoles and smoothly swap out designs between poses. Seamless paper works particularly well for everyday needs, as you can roll sheets out to the desired length and then reuse or trim away pieces for easy recycling. Muslin photo and video backdrops feature non-reflective surfaces that diffuse light more naturally, which can help keep the focus on your subject. If you prefer materials that allow for fast and efficient cleanup, vinyl and PVC backgrounds are a solid choice, especially when you use them in potentially messy situations involving pets, babies, and toddlers.
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