Are hand-painted backdrops the best for Portraiture?
Muslin backdrops, vinyl backdrops, or hand-painted backdrops… If you can’t make your own, which of these three solutions is the best for you? Let me share with you my thoughts on the hand-painted backdrops and the choice I would make for my work between these 3 different backdrop solutions. Before we go further, Just in case you missed them, here are the links to the 3 other videos where I tested Muslin and Vinyl backdrops and integrated them into my work.
This was interesting for me because I did more studio-oriented work lately thanks to the COVID-19 situation. This forced me to work a bit more at home. A lot of these great locations I usually work in are still closed or cannot welcome my clients, or at least in decent conditions. So it was the perfect time for me to test new things, new styles, concentrate on my portrait photography, and ultimately use backdrops.
Clara P. (Toulouse - France) Fujifilm GFX100s GF 50mm F3.5 R LM WR 1/160sec f/3.5 ISO 100
Muslin backdrops, are great if your budget is tight and if you need a quick solution on location. Vinyl backdrops are a bit less travel-friendly but offer better results, at least to my eyes, they look better… but they are a bit more expensive. On the more expensive side of things, you have hand-painted backdrops. A lot of professional photographers and big studios use them. So let's take a look at the one that I have here.
Lady Bionic (Toulouse - France) Fujifilm GFX100s GF 50mm F3.5 R LM WR 1/200sec f/3.5 ISO 100
It usually takes 3 to 5 weeks to order yours, if it's not already made and it will also, depend on your location. They say hand-painted so I imagine someone doing this by hand with a brush, but if you do a bit of research some spray paint them. Between all the backdrops I had in my hands so far, in terms of color and texture, the hand-painted ones win hands down. They are beautiful. The colors are vivid and stand out, and the texture really adds something. Plus from the sample images online to the product, I actually received it was really close to what I imagined. Now the downside of these is the cost and time to make them they start at 200$ and you don’t have as many options in terms of size compared to any fabric backdrop or Vinyl backdrops solutions out there. Like the vinyl backdrops, they are heavier than the muslin ones, you cannot fold them of course so depending on the width they will take a bit of space when you carry them around. No wrinkles and creases, but you will need sturdy stands to keep them in place. For your studio they can be perfect or on any project where you will not change your backdrops every 2 minutes. So like everything in photography, it all comes down to you and the type of images you create. Do you need to photograph full bodies or just headshots? Will you carry them around with you, travel with them? and finally what is currently your budget? If you can answer all of these questions, you should have enough information to choose between the affordable, foldable, and light muslin backdrops, the easy to wash wrinkle-free with nicer textures but less travel-friendly Vinyl backdrops…or the beautiful hand-painted, heavier, and more expansive canvas. I said I would share my personal choice, which will be of course based on these questions too, but I need more time, I need to use these more, so I will do a separate video for that later. But If I had to choose now, based on the portrait work I am developing, I would choose the hand-painted backdrops first because I just love the look and I am willing to cope with some of the downsides to create the pictures I want. What about you? Do you use backdrops? How often? And which ones?