Client wants "Backdrop photos" oh no!

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by MattSepeta, Mar 4, 2011.

  1. MattSepeta macrumors 65816

    MattSepeta

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    #1
    I have been doing environmental portraits (ie: no boring backdrop) but a client recently requested standard backdrop photos.

    I will be shooting portraits of the healthcare providers for a local clinic "chain" (TONS of work, cant mess up the first clinic).

    I asked them if they had a preference as to what color backdrop they wanted, and they told me I can decide. This does not help seeing as to how I have never shot on a backdrop really.

    Now, I know that blue is a very "medical" color and I should probably stay away from red/yellow as they are "cautionary" colors, but I was also thinking about a dark brown for a "calming" color... Any ideas?

    What kind of lighting setups do you guys typically use for location backdrop portraits? I was thinking of a rembrandt-esque 3 light setup:
    -Shoot through fill behind camera left
    -Main light soft box in front of camera right
    -3rd light either a hairlight or background light, depending on which looks better once I get there.

    Ideas? Particularly about the backdrop color? Thanks!
     
  2. wonderspark, Mar 4, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2011

    wonderspark macrumors 68030

    wonderspark

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    #2
    I did this for police for 15 years. Favorite setup was large softbox just right and forward of camera, a giant white foamcore bounce board to left of subject, hairlight above and behind subject, and a third light with a blue gel firing onto blue paper background. This last light creates a gorgeous glow behind the subject, rather than boring, flat blue paper.

    The trick is positioning all elements so key isn't hitting paper, which dulls it. I used another foam board as a flag to harness key only on subject and block it from BG.

    When I get home, I'll post a sample so you can see how it looked. I think a dark, rich blue paper is very nice with the blue light hitting it.
     
  3. Stiksi macrumors regular

    Stiksi

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    Dec 7, 2007
    #3
    I'd go for a high-key cool background and give it a gentle gradation with light or in post. Health care is a very dramatic profession but I doubt they would like to emphasize that aspect. So clean, cool and light but vibrant.

    On the other hand, if you are unsure about the colour, just pick a strong colour that isn't a skintone and you can change it in post. But if you do that, beware of wild hair.

    If you like, you can probably even get sample packs from backdrop manufacturers and do small-scale tests beforehand.
     
  4. MattSepeta thread starter macrumors 65816

    MattSepeta

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    #4
    Thanks, I would love to see some samples!!!
     
  5. wonderspark, Mar 4, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2011

    wonderspark macrumors 68030

    wonderspark

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    #5
    Hopefully, you can see the attached sample shot I was talking about.
    Edit: First time uploading a photo on this site. Heh.
    Also, I know I switched up which side the key was on after a while, as you can see here.
     

    Attached Files:

  6. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #6
    Mottled blue/white muslins sell more kid's portraits than any other color background- I'd stick with what works. Muslins are a lot easier to work with than seamless. Just bring lots of clamps and a squirt bottle to stretch out the wrinkles.

    Paul
     
  7. obeygiant macrumors 68040

    obeygiant

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    #7
  8. MattSepeta thread starter macrumors 65816

    MattSepeta

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    #8
    Thanks. Do I need to buy photography specific ones? Does National Camera sell these? How much should I expect to spend on them? Would the Cowboy Studio ones from Amazon suffice, IIRC they were about $30 compared to $150+ I have seen around during my online shopping for them.
     
  9. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #9
    The first time through, cheap should be ok- unless you're shooting in front of a window where you may need a thicker material to stop spill they'll all work the same the first time through- paying more just generally gets you heavier fabric and more washability. Worst-case bring a couple of sheets or blankets to back them if your purchase ends up too thin. It's more of a pain, but there's no point in overspending if you're not going to use them often. Bigger is better.

    Paul
     
  10. MattSepeta thread starter macrumors 65816

    MattSepeta

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    #10
    Thanks Paul!

    I assume these things come rolled in a tube of some sort, but will I need to be prepared to hand creases or anything? How can I combat creases and wrinkles effectively? Thanks
     
  11. gidz macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2010
    #11
    I would suggest a paper colourama background (that's the UK brand name not sure what it would be in the US) there are loads of different colors to choose from and they are not as cheesy as muslin ones, especially the mottled ones.

    The next question is do you want it lit (bright and breezy feel) or unlit (more moody)? If its unlit then that's easy, just light your subject and make sure there is some separation between them and the background so it drops off to a dark moody shade (you could also shine a honeycomb onto the dark background to create a spot of light on it for more effect).

    For a lit background you have two options, firstly light it from either side with umbrellas (or soft boxes etc) for a nice even tone. Secondly have your model stood quite close to it and use the spill from the main lights to do the background as well ( watch out for shadows though).

    For the light for your subject the world is your oyster really, the previous suggestions are all good. The main thing to remember is these are real normal people not models, so keep it soft and flattering to make them look good. You could try an octa soft box as As a main light (say to the left of camera to give a bit of definition as the closer the light is to camera the flatter the light it gives will look),with a brolly or a reflector as a fill (a couple of stops under the main light either from under the lens or to the right of camera).

    A hair light is always an option as well, placed near the background firing back toasted camera at the subject with a honeycomb or snoot on to prevent flare into the lens.

    Anyway sorry for it being longwinded and good luck, since having been an assistant photographer for ten years and having worked with loads of photographers it's def down to your preference for how you like things to look.
     
  12. MattSepeta thread starter macrumors 65816

    MattSepeta

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    #12
    Thanks for the detailed answer!

    For lgihts, I am only working with 3 speedlites, a softbox just big enough for head/shoudlers portrait, and umbrellas. Of course I have my cardboard + rubber band snoots too!

    I am thinking of lighting the background with a light on the ground pointed up and at the wall to give it kind of a friendly glow behind the subject.

    Will use a softbox as main light and a shoot through umbrella dialed down for fill.
     
  13. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #13
    Nope, it'll be folded- which is why they're easier to deal with than seamless paper, which is in rolls, and is too long to handle easily (plus you pay mondo shipping for it.) You'll want to spread it out on the background stand (you'll want one of those if you don't have one) using clamps- Home Depot's big bag of plastic ones works just fine. use the spray bottle to wet it down once it's stretched out and the wrinkles will disappear- you just really want the folds out, you can stuff it in a bag before you go use it and just set it up 15 or so mins before you shoot- if you can get a good background-subject distance, you'll be fine with wrinkles anyway- but just wet and smooth by stretching- you'll be able to stretch a bit more once it's wet, then as it drys it'll be fine. Don't over-wet it, when you practice setting it up, you can get a feel for it, but it's no big deal.

    Paul
     
  14. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #14
    Instead of a background light, you may want to consider gridding the third light and using as a hair/rim light. Shoot some tests both ways and see which look you prefer.

    Paul
     
  15. MattSepeta, Mar 8, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2011

    MattSepeta thread starter macrumors 65816

    MattSepeta

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    #15
    Thanks for the ideas Paul, now I am really confused. I may end up renting another light, or even just buying another one. After a quick google search I found an image that is EXACTLY what I had envisioned in my head as my final product. Check it out:

    [​IMG]
    (Not mine, credit to copyright owner)

    Can anyone help me deconstruct the lighting? As far as I can tell, there is

    -Light on the background.
    • Is it through an umbrella from the side? From the floor pointed up?
    -Hairlight
    • Gridded or snooted?
    -Main light
    • Camera left I think. Softbox? Umbrella?
    -Fill
    • Camera right I assume, through an umbrella


    I also really like this style below. Not sure how it is lit.
    [​IMG]

    EDIT: I do have a backdrop stand already, I got it right before I moved into my tiny apartment without getting a chance to use it ever. I will pick up some clamps and order a Muslin.

    Also: Is there any reason I cant use Fabric I buy from Joann fabrics rather than buying a $60 "backdrop" if I am jsut going to be mounting it via clamps? I will bring a blanket along to put under it to make sure it does not let light through.
     
  16. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #16
    Looks about right... Difficult to tell with the background though- could just be done in post.

    You really don't want plain fabric- it's much harder to light well than mottled stuff, and if you can't get enough distance between the subject and the background, then it'll be worse looking too- but you're not likely to know how the texture is going to look with strobes, or how easy it is to de-wrinkle until you do it- and that's the worst part- suddenly you're dealing with hotspots and color reflections that you didn't plan on. If you're just doing small ones, then it can work, but if you want a full-sized muslin, then it won't- I prefer using the larger ones because if I'm in a small space, I can double up the fabric.

    Much more importantly, IMO a paid gig with a good client isn't the place to half-a$$ the equipment.

    Paul
     
  17. The Mad Kiwi macrumors 6502

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    In Hell
    #17
    Sorry Paul but can't do a slick professional job for corporate with mottled muslins, it's not the 70's anymore.

    Make them pick the colour before you start "oh you can decide" translates to "oh you can decide but then I'll change my mind when I see it" and then you'll be doing it again, if they really won't decide then they get plain white.

    You won't need a seemless for corporate headshots, just use a neutral coloured wall. Usually you end up shooting mug shots in the boardroom so there should be heaps of space between the subject and the background to make things easy.

    3 strobes is more than enough, Right main, reflector left for fill, hair and background gridded snoots.

    This is the easiest kind of work you'll ever get, keep it simple don't over think it.
     
  18. marsmissions macrumors 6502

    marsmissions

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    Washington, US
    #18
    Try gray...most scrubs are blue...Not everyone wear's a lab coat ;)
     
  19. MattSepeta thread starter macrumors 65816

    MattSepeta

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    #19
    That is a great point. Didn't even think about it. :eek:
     
  20. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #20
    It's up to you to put them all in a lab coat if that's what you want- and add a stethoscope if appropriate. They can surely have a handful of lab coats available.

    Paul
     

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