Wednesday, 10 December 2014

How to make a simple photo backdrop

Vogue 1313

I churn out hand made clothes at a rare old rate, not that you'd know it from my frequency of blog posts. One of the barriers to getting clothes on to the blog has been finding the time and location to take the photos. I love blog photos taken with beautiful scenery in the background, but it's just not always possible and has ended, more than once, with me feeling very embarrassed by the onlookers!

So, I dreamed up a way of making myself a photo backdrop that I could set up easily at home.

And here it is, neatly stored away:

I've mentioned before that I'm a member of Remida, an amazing place in Perth that recycles factory offcuts and the like. It was there that I headed to search for supplies. 

I collected a long (approx 2m), sturdy cardboard tube (try fabric stores for similar) and a large piece of white vinyl (approx 2 x 4m). The vinyl is great for this as it is fairly lightweight, holds its shape and doesn't tend to ripple. However, a large bed sheet or tablecloth may also work. 

The shorter edge of the vinyl was taped to the tube with strong packing tape. I then cut some rope to about 2.5 times the length of the tube, doubled it over and tied large bulldog clips to each end. The bulldog clips attach to each end of the tube for hanging and make it easy to switch the white vinyl for another colour backdrop if you so desire. If you don't have clips, just thread the rope through the tube and tie it (note that the rope will get in the way when rolling up the backdrop for storage with this method).

I searched around my house for somewhere to hang my new contraption and eventually settled on the balcony overhanging my back courtyard. There's enough room there to set everything up and there is lots of natural light. I installed two of these high-tech hooks on a fabric tie chopped off some garment or other. They now hang attractively from my balcony ready for the next photoshoot.

 This backdrop can be set up in about a minute. I stand my tripod and camera facing it and click away. Sometimes I even stand a mirror against the tripod so I can see if my dress (and myself) are looking their best for the pictures!

Vogue 1316

Once taken, the pictures can be quickly manipulated so they are ready for the blog. I use iphoto to crop them, quickly retouch any creases in the vinyl (eg. top, right of 'before' photo above). The above photo was taken on an overcast day so I clicked 'enhance' to brighten it up. Done!

Named Wyome jeans

The vinyl is also great as a background for inanimate objects, such as these jeans...

...and also works well for photos of pets and children. Awwww Truffle! Here he was putting his paw up for a treat. I just removed the hand and treat from the photo using Photoshop.

So, although I will still take photos in my natural habitat when I am able, this is a fantastically easy way of quickly producing some fairly professional-looking photos.


  1. What a great idea. It is lovely to look at beautiful background locations but they do distract from the actual sewing. With this background all the focus is on the garment. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I usually use my garden in spring and summer but the light is sometimes a problem. In winter lack of light and suitable locations is a huge problem. Something like this would be perfect. It works so well but is so simple!

  3. Truffle's fur looks so lovely against that background - what a cuddly!

    Thanks for sharing your great idea. I will ask if I can have one of the cardboard rolls though I'm pretty sure I've asked already (forget why) and was told they're reused... which is not a bad thing to do I guess. We've had some really dingy days recently and the Christmas preparations are making the house seem extra cluttered and untidy. This would solve so many problems!

  4. AWESOME! Such a fabulous and simple idea Megan!! You're a genius! :)

  5. What a wonderful idea! I think a plain backdrop makes the clothes stand out so much better.

  6. Brilliant idea Meg! Thanks for sharing

  7. A seriously awesome idea! Ingenius, and so practical for documenting a new garment. Love it!

  8. If only I had a tripod. And a remote. Oh, and while I'm at it, a decent camera. I went back to using a camera for photos this week, and realised that I was using my phone for photos for a reason. It has a better lens, but is difficult to get it still enough for photos that aren't blurry. At least with your tips I could set up in natural light with no worries about what's lurking in the background!!

  9. That's an absolutely brilliant setup! and yes, so much better in the privacy of your own home :)

  10. Is it so simple? I have always thought photographying indoor is such a pain as it involves buying backdrops, having your own space for studio. Buy equipments, bla bla.. Your a savior Megan!! thank you so much for this blog, the comparison pics with detailed descriptions are great. I found this blog crazily useful for me, glad that i hopped into this blog.

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