Creating your own home studio for photography - part 3

This is Part 3 --> part 2 here!

Curtains or bed sheets can be used, but I suggest getting rubber bands and a clamps to stretch the fabric tight to avoid wrinkles and essentially extra time in postproduction to get rid of the wrinkles.

What can be a better solution, especially if you have a room for it, is to get a roll of seamless paper. These come in different widths and lengths, and if dirtied, you can just discard and roll out some more. They can be a little expensive and if you get a 9ft(3m) version, it will obviously not be a good fit for a mobile light setup if you go to a client, but in the home studio this is great to have.

Here is a trick if you are just doing head and shoulders portraits and looking for something different and cheap as an alternative to existing backgrounds on the market.

I live in Japan, and almost all hardware stores have rolls of inexpensive repair paper for Japanese style of sliding paper doors, and are usually 1.0-1.2m wide and 2-3m in length and are anywhere from 500¥ to 1200¥ depending on quality.(approx. 5-12 USD)

You can get all sorts of patterns and strengths. Have a look at the below simple photos shot on such backgrounds.

This solution is also great for product photography using plain white paper, which is how I shoot 95% of the photos for gear on this blog. (I do actually own a 50cm x 50cm x 50cm "light tent" for product photography, but this is actually better in my opinion and gives no top edges to bump into or obscure your vision of the product when shooting.)

Product photography - What I do
I hang the roll of inexpensive white paper from my stands, and let it sway to the front of a table where I clamp in on. Creating a corner-less background, so it looks like the product is floating in white air. Just like you would for a model with a big roll of seamless paper, but only smaller and more practical scale at a fraction of the paper cost and easier to pack up.

 inexpensive repair paper
 And you will get something like this...

And you will get something like this...

 Here the background is lit with to strobes and softboxes, but you can use normal shoot through umbrellas just as well.

Here the background is lit with to strobes and softboxes, but you can use normal shoot through umbrellas just as well.

Cloth backdrop

Again, if you are just doing a head and shoulder portrait you don't need buy a crazy expensive and big cloth backdrop that will no doubt wrinkle when folded up for transport.
So why not go to the local handcraft shop and buy the standard 1.2m wide piece of fabric cheaply? You will have and endless choice of patterns to chose from that you will never find in a photography shop.

But won't it wrinkle?
Nope! And here is why.  Ask in the craft shop if they can please iron the fabric, and most places they will give it a quick run over and take out any wrinkles for free, and remember they have the space and the equipment to do so. It can be a massive pain in the behind ironing a 3m x 6m cloth backdrop on your half size ironing board from ikea just to find that there a new wrinkles after storage again (=_=‘)

How I keep my cloth back drops smooth as a baby’s bottom - Pro tip!
I went to the local hardware store (in my case Beaver Tozan but I imagine any hardware store will have this) Here I got a 3m Ø2,5cm wooden shaft, cut it in half, and got 2 inexpensive “S hooks” and 2 clamps at the Daiso 100¥ shop( 1$ store ). As the cloth is approx. 1,2m wide and my to wooden staffs are 1,5m I place the different cloths I bought in layers on top of one another and just used safety pins to secure it around one of the shafts. (this way I am always able to add new backdrops later) I can now roll up all backdrops for storage or transport as one, and be sure they won’t wrinkle as there are no edges on a round shaft.  You can add a string to both ends of the shaft and hang this from any light stand.


...or as I do, simply use the 2 “S-shaped hooks and setup in front of any window with a curtain rail. (saves dragging a light stand, and most people have a curtain rail. And in Japan, many traditional rooms have a wooden panel at the top of the room with a groove in it for hanging clothes on hangers, that too works just fine) And if you want one of the cloth backdrops that are not in the front, just flip the front cloths over the shaft to the back like the pages of a book and you are set. ;)


But wait, then what is the purpose of the other half of the 3m wooden shaft?
Well, if you either want two sets of backdrops, or if the cloth is not hanging straight down for some reason, you can use that piece of wood and the 2 clamps as weight and straighten it out. Good if you are shooting outside in wind.