Choosing the Right Portrait Backdrop

by | Aug 31, 2020

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

It’s Studio Week on the blog and each day I’ll be offering some tips, trick, and techniques for making your next shoot easier and maybe even fun while creating great portraits at the same time…

They may not be the main focus of a portrait but backdrops not only enhance an image but they can improve it by simplifying the background, placing the emphasis on the subject. By working with different kinds of backdrops, you can experiment with different designs and textures so you’re ready for anything.

A new background can also get a photographer’s creative juices flowing. There’s something about adding any new element to an image that can jump start you out of a rut.

While your portraiture needs may vary depending on the project or budget, variety is the single most important factor to consider when purchasing any background that will complement your subject without competing with it. That’s why the most classic of all backgrounds is solid color seamless paper. Photographers have used Savage seamless background paper for more than eighty years. Their Widetone paper has a non-reflecting surface that’s available in 68 different colors and in 26-inch x 12 yards, 53-inch x 12 yards, 107-inch x 12 yards and 107-inch x 50 yard rolls. Savage seamless paper rolls are core wound and come wrapped in a plastic sleeve.

How I made this shot: I photographed the statuesque six-foot tall, Danielle in my home studio. The main light was a Fotodiox Pro LED light with a 47-inch softbox that was placed at camera right. At camera left is a 42 x72-inch Westcott Scrim Jim Cine with white cover for some fill. Background is a Savage Photo Grey Infinity vinyl backdrop hung on my falling apart JTL background stand. Camera used was my former go-to DSLR for portrait shoots, the Canon EOS 60D with EF-S15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM lens (at 46mm.) Exposure was 1/100 sec at f/5.6 and ISO 640. Image was retouched and tweaked with Vivenza and the Glamour Glow filter (at 50% opacity) from Color Efex Pro.

Savage also offers vinyl backdrops and their Infinity Vinyl series has a matte finish that produces for a glare free background that’s ideal for portrait or commercial photography. Infinity Vinyl backdrops come in rolls on strong cores and can be used on most background support systems and are easy to clean with damp sponge and because of its weight hangs straight.

If you enjoyed today’s blog post and would like to treat me to a cup of Earl Grey tea ($2.50), please click here. And if you do, thanks so much.

If you’re interested in learning how I shoot portraits and how I use cameras, lenses and lighting in my in-home studio and on location, please pick up a copy of my book Studio Lighting Anywhere that’s available new from for $6.76 or used copies starting at $2.70 used, as I write this, which seems like a heckuva deal. The Kindle version is $6.42, if you prefer a digital format format.