The Essential Guide To Photography Backdrops


Selecting backdrops is one of the easiest ways to add personality and style to your studio photography and videos.

Whether you are shooting portraits or products, the backdrop behind your subject can make or break your image. Cluttered backgrounds are distracting and draw attention away from your subject. And if you’re attempting to sell products online, a cluttered image may cause you to lose sales.

Selecting a backdrop may seem like a relatively simple task. However, there are many types and styles of backdrops available in different sizes, patterns, and materials.


Backdrop Size Options

There are a few things to consider when choosing a backdrop size, including the size of your studio and the size of your subject. Portrait subjects should typically be pulled at least 3’ away from your backdrop to prevent shadows and allow for easy lighting. Of course, this distance your subject will be from the backdrop will be altered when taking overhead or backlit/high key shots. Below, we’ll discuss both the length and width restrictions of common backdrops.

  • 5" x 7" Backdrop: A 5" wide by 7" long backdrop is a great size for headshots and ¾-length portraits. These backdrops are easy to manage and require minimal space to set up. These backgrounds are ideal for event photographers who often work in busy spaces or for photographers working in a small home studio.
  • 10" x 12" Backdrop: A 10" wide by 12" long backdrop is designed to sit at 7′ tall with 4-feet of backdrop sweeping along the floor. This length of backdrop is perfect for full-body portraits of a single person, as well as headshots and ¾-length portraits.
  • 9" x 15" Backdrop: A 9" wide by 15" long backdrop is what can be found in most professional studios because of its versatility for shooting full-length portraits, family portraits, and larger product shots.
  • 10" x 20" Backdrop: With a 10" wide by 20" long backdrop, you’ll be able to cover just about every style of portraiture and product photography. These backdrops are great if you want to photograph a larger family full-length or have a video shoot that requires movement. These long backdrops are great for when you want to pull your subjects far from your backdrop as well.

Backdrop Color Options

There are endless choices of background color and print selections. The choice you make depends on the mood and story that you’d like to portray with your photograph or video. Here are some resources for selecting the proper style of backdrop:(Or see another blog:How to Choose the Right Photography Backdrop)

  • Solid Color BackdropsSolid backdrops are great for clean, sleek headshots and are a simple way to add color or dimension to your shot. 
  • White Seamless Backdrops: White backdrops are great for easy photo compositing for headshots, stock photos and product photography and for creating a clean, high-key, professional looking portraits. 
  • Black BackdropBlack backdrops are great for low-key, rich looking professional photos and capturing stunning portraits.
  • Green Screen Backdrops: When you’re looking to place your subject in a location that is not easily accessible and also allows you to use any digital image as a background. 
  • Textured Backdrops: Printed backdrops help add a touch of style to your shots and add a dynamic feel to an otherwise typical photoshoot.





    Backdrop Mounting Options

    There are many systems available for mounting backdrops, including some DIY solutions and some more professional options. Below, we’ll discuss the most popular solutions to help you determine which option is best for you.

    Wall Hooks:  The most simple way to hang a backdrop is by using wall hooks. This solution is suitable for people using smaller and lighter backdrops. 5 x 7-foot X-Drop Backdrops. While you can install these into your wall, we recommend picking up a pack of removable wall hooks to protect your walls. They are usually under $10 USD per pack.


    X-Drop Backdrop Stand: The X-Drop System is an ideal backdrop mounting solution for traveling photographers or those with limited space. The X-Drop Frame features telescoping arms with hooks that assemble quickly and easily to mount 5′ wide backdrops. This self-standing system is extremely lightweight and has a small footprint for use in virtually any location.

    The X-Drop frame has five hooks that pull X-Drop Backdrop taut to eliminate wrinkles and shadows. This system weighs a mere 3 pounds and its expandable carry case can fit up to three 5’ x 7′ backdrops.


    X-Drop Backdrop Frame
    X-Drop Backdrop System X-Drop Backdrop Frame

    Backdrop Support System: A traditional backdrop support system is the most common mounting solution for photography studios. The backdrop support system consists of a 3-section crossbar and two light stands. By utilizing two of the included crossbars, the backdrop support system can mount backdrops up to 7-feet wide. By utilizing all three crossbars, this system can mount backdrops up to 10.5-feet wide. The included stands can extend up to 12-feet high for photographing tall people, high movement, or products.

    The backdrop support system typically mounts backdrops that feature a pole pocket. This pocket simply slides onto the crossbars. Backdrops without a pole pocket can also be mounted to the backdrop support system with spring clamps. Spring clamps (AKA A-Clamps) can be found at any hardware store and typically only cost a few dollars. These clamps are great to have around your studio, as they also allow you to clamp backdrops taut at the bottom to eliminate wrinkles or shadows.

    This system is secure, long-lasting, and versatile. However, this backdrop mounting solution requires a bit of room and could become a bit difficult to use if you’re shooting in a small home studio. We recommend this solution for larger spaces and professional studios.



    Photography Blue/Grey Background

    Backdrop Support System Setup

    Backdrop Support System

    Backdrop Support System Pole Pocket



    Fabric/Material Options

    Choosing the material that your backdrop is constructed with can make a huge difference on the appearance, care, and durability of your backdrop. Below, we’ll discuss the most common backdrop materials and what advantage each has.

    Wrinkle-Resistant Fabric: Many of our solid-color backdrops are constructed with a wrinkle-resistant cotton-polyester blend fabric. This fleece-like fabric is reflection-free, machine washable, and easy to store. Because of their ultra-matte surface, these backdrops are easy to light and are great for green screen composites, high-key white shots, or low-key black shots.


    Wrinkle-Resistant Backdrop Wrinkle-Resistant Background


    Low-Key Lighting: For a dramatic or edgy appearance, go with low-key lighting. Low-key lighting also focuses attention on your subject by surrounding them in shadows instead of light. To do this, you want to ensure that your solid black backdrop is at least 3 stops darker than the light on your subject. With low-key lighting, you also need to ensure that none of the light from your subject is hitting your backdrop. Grids and flags are very helpful for this.


    Low-Key Lighting Setup Low-Key Lighting



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