When I started out with model photography I used a lot of seamless backgrounds, and I think most of you do.
However the more I shot the more I grew bored with these backgrounds and I started using the studio walls and more and more and I was drawn to location work. Of course it’s not possible to work on great locations all the time, and let’s be realistic…. the background does have to have something interesting, being it structure, rawness (is that a word?), edginess (love that word, I always use it when I don’t know something else) and…. well you get the general idea, walls can be cool if they are cool.
At one point it dawned to me that if I couldn’t go to locations all the time why not get the locations in our studio, if you go through my portfolio you can actually see that a lot of my work is using models pretty much straight up or in front of walls. In our studio we actually painted all the walls in different themes and looks going from nice and dark to totally distressed with wallpaper hanging down and broken plaster. Sometimes people will actually comment on these walls and ask me when I’m gonna do some fixing up… until I tell them that those are sets and their response is “oh cool, I need that”… actually at that time I already earned my money for the workshop because in my opinion the biggest problem a lot of photographers struggle with is “seeing possibilities”. So if you see an old broken down wall don’t see it as something that has to go but see it as an photo oppertunity.
Our studio is pretty big and there is no wall in the studio that we can’t use as a backdrop, I always am stunned when I visit studios that are HUGE but have all the same color walls, it just doesn’t make sense for me, of course a shooting area for cars has to be one color, but there are also so many other walls, areas etc. that you can use and that are often left untouched, for me the studio is a working space and not an office (heck even my office has different themes, I hate plain walls I guess).
If you are not allowed to do this on the walls, make “small” (2.50×2.50 mtrs) panels and cover them.
But you can also paint those panels, in this case one of our interns did a tremendous job I think, and as you can see it REALLY spices things up, the image in front of it is already cool but the walls…. well they complete it, and it really also helps to enhance the styling.
Indeed all the structure and blues you see is in the wall, we used a little bit of smoke to spice the set up, but the wall in combination with nadine her awesome styling makes the image complete.
But a lot more can be done.
Here are some examples of our walls in action 😀
Now if you don’t have the options for panels, or wallpaper or…. there is always another option.
Lastolite is a brand you probably know right?
They have some amazing foldable backgrounds with great prints, and the fun thing is… they don’t take up any space and they look great in a photoshoot. I always have some with me when I teach on location (just in case).
Here are some samples from the Lastolites.
Now if you think these are too expensive (man you are hard to convince :D)
You can always use a backdrop system and mount some plastic to it and play with that.
Or use some curtains
So the next time you grab your seamless…. try to do something more creative and start using the walls, areas of your studio etc.
OR….. well you also use seamless of course.
If you want more in depth tips and tricks check out my book “Mastering the model shoot” it’s not just on models but also has extensive parts on styling, your studio etc.
Also check out my instructional videos via this website (see the left menu), and check out my videos on KelbyOne where you can also find one on building your own studio.