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Backdrops and Options

A background for your shooting space is also vital. You may decide to use a certain wall or a combination of fabrics, muslin, drop cloths, or some such product. A seamless paper background can prove to be the most convenient option. Rolls of paper come in various sizes. The standard is 9 feet wide, but I tend to go with the 12-foot wide rolls so I can offer my subjects more breathing room when I’m shooting them in the studio. It’s awfully difficult to photograph a large group comfortably on a 9-foot-wide background. Although the standard colors in seamless paper are white and black, modern colors have come a long way from the original powder blue or school-picture green, and new options are as stylish looking as they are ear-catching—with selections like plum, thistle, spice, and thunder.

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You can mount the backdrops on the backdrop mount system of your choice. When I first started photographing portraits, I used a portable $200 backdrop crossbar on a backdrop polls set. When my shooting schedule became steadier, I upgraded to a wall-mounted backdrop support system that cost a few hundred dollars more and utilized a chain pulley to roll my backdrops up and down. As business really became brisk—and I brought on associate photographers—I finally moved to a several thousand dollar ceiling-mount five-roller backdrop system with a remote switch box, which allowed me to adjust backdrops with the push of a bottom. There are plenty of ways to get started and many options to explore when time becomes more valuable than money.

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