Q and A: Seamless Paper

I just had this blog comment question from “PhotoJunke” on a previous blog post (here), and thought I’d answer it as a new post.

Great light Matt,

Is that a paper backdrop? I am using a bed sheet but the wrinkles are overwhelming and I can’t get rid of them. Have you ever encountered this? If so, how did you deal with it until you were successful enough to buy high end equipment?

Thanks! Yes it’s a paper backdrop. You can’t beat paper for wrinkle-free backgrounds! (Well a permanent ‘cyc’ wall is even better, but hardly anyone ever paints them black)

An alternative to paper is black faux-velvet cloth. It reflects even less light than black paper, and while it might wrinkle a little, they don’t show because it’s so dark. It has a different look though, as it’s completely black and there’s no detail in the background whatsoever. Also rolling up the cloth instead of folding will reduce wrinkles. The trick is to find a piece of cloth wide enough.

But really, a roll of paper isn’t “high end”. A 9 ft wide roll is about $43 at the local Samy’s. The trick is to have a local store that sells it, because shipping is expensive on these rolls (freight only).

I have a portable backdrop stand I often use that cost me $60 used. You can find new ones here, for about $100. This is what I use if there’s nothing available in a studio.

In this shoot above, the studio had a pole on a pulley system for seamless paper, which was very quick and convenient. In my garage, I have two large hooks on the rafters about 9.5 ft apart, and I have an 11 ft length of 2″ PVC pipe, which I run through the seamless paper core and simply suspend from the hooks. My garage isn’t really big enough for full-length shots, but I have pulled it off on occasion when necessary.

Or you can make one yourself. DIYP has a few different articles on this, including one here.

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