Categories
Backdrops for Photoshoots

Studio Backdrop: Bay Window

Working in white makes people look into it. White is ethereal. There’s a purity to it, it makes things look elevated in a way.

-Jonathan Milne, Sculpture
Andrea is wearing the studio’s fabulous mauve robe that is seemingly made from miles and miles of tulle.

When I started the photography studio in 2017 I worked solely with natural light available from a northward facing Bay window. Even in sunny Tucson we occasionally experience overcast and rainy days, on an average of 53 days a year. I need to be able to capture photographs on any day no matter the weather, or the time of day (or evening for that matter).

Therefore, in 2018 I added strobes to my photography gear so I could create any kind of light I want depending upon the style of photographs my client’s need or desire. As a professional photographer it’s critical that my gear enables me to capture the types of images my client’s want me to capture.

Andrea captured in front of the Bay window. An extra layer of drapes were hung for additional texture in the image.

Portrait sessions include images captured with natural light, strobes and a mix of both. I have also added an outdoor farmer’s market canopy to better control the light for photographs captured in my backyard. A favorite set-up with the outdoor canopy is to hang sheer fabrics that sway in the wind and play hide and seek with the rays of the sun. It’s nice having two distinct areas to capture natural light images both inside and outside.

Ali and Coral look ethereal in the glow of the bay window.
It’s always a wonderful day in the studio when Lindsey and Campbell are in front of my lens.
Adalis and her daughters make my heart sing in this soft light.
Miranda chose both light and dark lacey fabrics to wear in front of for the window light for her maternity session. She had a boy!
Lowry and Lindsey are the sweetest sisters. When I discovered Lindsey is a twin I couldn’t get the sisters into the studio fast enough.
Coral is a gifted dancer and it shows in her poise, beautiful posture and pointed toes.
Brigette is lovely in corset and tulle and surrounded by dreamy soft light.
Maddie photographed using only natural light in front of the Bay window.

Interested in learning more about what the studio has to offer? Click on the following links to jump to the studio’s portfolio of images, and download a digital copy of the studio’s Magazine and Style Guide to learn how to prepare for your photoshoot:

Link to the studio’s portfolio.

Link to the studio’s Free Magazine and Style Guide.

Categories
Backdrops for Photoshoots Headshots and Personal Branding

Studio Backdrop: Seamless Paper

The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it.

–Ansel Adams
This image of Maddie was inspired by Stuart Weitzman’s shoe campaigns.

A 9-foot wide roll of white seamless paper is a staple at the studio. In addition to white, seamless paper is available in 55 colors which makes it an ideal choice for personal branding photoshoots to complement your branding colors. Seamless paper is also a terrific option for fashion-inspired images providing a commercial look.

A lighter toned portfolio of images can include photographing against the white V-Flats, textured light gray backdrop, warm gray backdrop, and window light through the Bay window.

White seamless paper provides a commercial, fashion-style look to a photoshoot.
Maddie is wearing a black bodysuit accessorized with a cage skirt. There are bodysuits to compliment every body type. Cosmopolitan magazine proclaimed that the bodysuit is one of the “7 items of clothing that look good on absolutely everyone.” This may come as a bit of a surprise because bodysuits look terrible on a hangar, but when you find the right one, with the right fit, the bodysuit beautifully shapes a figure. The bodysuit also looks great paired with fishnet stockings, thigh-high hosiery or boots, a motorcycle jacket, tuxedo tails, and corset belts, to name just a few ideas.
Savannah wanted to capture edgy fashion-inspired images. Mission accomplished. Makeup by Areli Jones-Acosta and hair by Claudia Ratcliffe, the owner of Alluminare Salon.
Miranda was photographed towards the end of her pregnancy. She gave birth to a handsome baby boy who is absolutely adorable. Maternity photos are treasured keepsakes for a lifetime and beyond for the next generations.

Interested in learning more about what the studio has to offer? Click on the following links to jump to the studio’s portfolio of images, and download a digital copy of the studio’s Magazine and Style Guide to learn how to prepare for your photoshoot:

Link to the studio’s portfolio.

Link to the studio’s Free Magazine and Style Guide.

Life is like photography. You focus on what’s important. Capture the good times. Develop from the negatives and if things don’t work out just take another shot.

–Unknown
Categories
Backdrops for Photoshoots Headshots and Personal Branding

Studio Backdrop: White V-Flats

The question is no longer IF you have a personal brand, but if you choose to guide and cultivate the brand or let it be defined on your behalf.

-Shama Hyder
Capturing a personal branding portrait at 3/4 length provides flexibility in cropping the image for a variety of uses.

Two sided white and black V-Flats are perhaps the hardest working equipment in my studio. They are predominately used to control light. The white side bounce light and the black side absorbs light. Both the white and black sides can also be used as backdrops.

Renoir said once that nothing was so difficult, and at the same time so exciting, to paint, as white on white.

-Ambroise Vollard, French Contemporary Artsit 1866-1939

When I employ a white V-Flat as a backdrop it tends to be for personal branding images. The truth is pretty much everyone in business needs a professional headshot on a light background. The old adage is true, “You only have one chance to make a first impression.” This is also true of your online presence whether your headshot is featured on LinkedIn, your website, social media platforms, or dating service.

Maddie in the foreground and the tall V-Flats are stacked up like accordion cards in the background.

“A series of experiments by Princeton psychologists Janine Willis and Alexander Todorov reveal that all it takes is a tenth of a second to form an impression of a stranger from their face, and that longer exposures don’t significantly alter those impressions (although they might boost your confidence in your judgments). Their research is presented in their article “First Impressions,” in the July issue of Psychological Science.”

-Association for Psychological Science

The white V-Flats, depending upon the lighting set-up, can be pure white or have a gradient from white to gray.

Elise is a participant in the Wise Women: 50 over 50 Project. She incorporated a personal branding set into her photoshoot. She is makeup artist who owns Boomer and Beyond Beauty LLC.
Personal branding headshot for Hilda, owner of Morava Services & Consulting, LLC located in Tucson, Arizona.
Dan is the owner of Danwidth, a Tucson-based company that creates customized website solutions.

White V-Flats aren’t just for capturing personal branding, this series of fun “dancing” portraits” were captured with the white V-Flats acting as a backdrop.

A “9-Up” portrait collection of Jaquesha.

And, of course, we can have a bit of fun too. White V-Flats don’t have to be all about serious business.

Savannah visited the studio to add images to her modeling portfolio.

The studio’s gray backdrops also work well for headshots, in particular the Light Gray.

Black V-Flats are also frequently used in personal branding sessions.

Interested in learning more about what the studio has to offer? Click on the following links to jump to the studio’s portfolio of images, and download a digital copy of the studio’s Magazine and Style Guide to learn how to prepare for your photoshoot:

Link to the studio’s portfolio.

Link to the studio’s Free Magazine and Style Guide.

Categories
Backdrops for Photoshoots Headshots and Personal Branding

Studio Backdrop: Light Gray

Gray is the Queen of colors, because she makes everyone else look good.

-Helen Van Wyk, Painter
“Double Exposure” portrait of Andrea captured with a mix of natural light and strobe.

As you can see from the images in this post, this light gray backdrop can appear much lighter or darker in photographs depending upon the lighting used to make the portrait. In the studio I work with natural light, strobe light, and a mix of both natural light and strobe to create portraits that are light and airy to dark and moody and everything in between.

The goal with this backdrop was to choose the right tone of gray that would work as both a neutral and to pair well with just about any color. I also had in mind to select a tone that would work well in replacing white seamless paper for fashion-inspired images, especially when a little more texture is desired in the image.

“Socially distanced” group photo of the Marana Chamber of Commerce Committee Chairs for 2019-2020. Each member was captured individually and composited into this group photo. I made a makeshift studio outside under a canopy.
Devi posing under the canopy for her participation in the Marana Chamber of Commerce photoshoots to capture the outgoing committee chairs.
Personal Branding image for Erik Anderson of Scar and Pain Solutions, based in Tucson, Arizona.
Pam is owner of Theia Hypnotherapy, LLC, a certified hypnotherapist.

In addition to this warm light gray backdrop, the studio has a variety of gray backdrops in inventory:

Warm Gray | Charcoal Gray | Blue-Gray | Portable Medium Gray

Interested in learning more about what the studio has to offer? Click on the following links to jump to the studio’s portfolio of images, and download a digital copy of the studio’s Magazine and Style Guide to learn how to prepare for your photoshoot:

Link to the studio’s portfolio.

Link to the studio’s Free Magazine and Style Guide.

Categories
Backdrops for Photoshoots

Studio Backdrop: Warm Light Gray

In nature, light creates the color. In the picture, color creates the light.

-Hans Hofmann
Andrea photographed in front of the studio’s big bay window to add a base layer of natural light and then a strobe is added to give the light direction.

White, black and gray are essential in every wardrobe and this concept applies to backdrops as well. My general rule is to photograph lighter tones on lighter backdrops and darker tones on darker backdrops. Gray is the exception to the rule. As you can see with Andrea’s cover image there isn’t too much contrast between the lighter gray backdrop and her black shirt. It is subtle, but you can also see that Andrea’s blonde hair is complimented by the ochre color that was added as a golden accent to the backdrop.

The tones in this backdrop are cream, light gray and ochre. I had to photograph each backdrop before I could declare it finished. Backgrounds tend to look different in a photograph than they do lying on the floor.

In addition to this warm light gray backdrop, the studio has a variety of gray backdrops in hues that range from lighter to darker:

Light Gray | Blue-Gray | Portable Medium Gray | Charcoal Gray

Interested in learning more about what the studio has to offer? Click on the following links to jump to the studio’s portfolio of images, and download a digital copy of the studio’s Magazine and Style Guide to learn how to prepare for your photoshoot:

Link to the studio’s portfolio.

Link to the studio’s Free Magazine and Style Guide.

Categories
Backdrops for Photoshoots

Studio Backdrop: Chalk Paint Blue-Gray

Andrea photographed in a lighting set-up called “the half-light”.

I thought I found a way to easily paint a backdrop by using chalk paint. I saw examples on the internet that looked absolutely gorgeous. One writer claimed that all she did was throw some chalk paint on a wall and voila gorgeousness ensued. So I went to Home Depot, bought dark gray chalk paint and excitedly – yes, excitedly – rolled on a layer of paint. It dried to a dull uninteresting color with no texture. 🙁

What painting project doesn’t involve thirty trips to Home Depot? Back to Home Depot I trudged to investigate what colors of chalk paint were available in sample colors. There were only three hues available: black, white and a pretty pastel blue. I bought all three. Back home I returned to apply the colors with a textured roller over the flat black paint. With a bit of patience I was able to say yes to success. The addition of the light blue chalk paint lends a hint of a cool undertone to the gray that is quite lovely. The key to success is in not giving up.

In addition to this blue-gray backdrop, the studio has a variety of gray backdrops in hues that range from lighter to darker:

Light Gray | Warm Light Gray  | Portable Medium Gray | Charcoal Gray

Interested in learning more about what the studio has to offer? Click on the following links to jump to the studio’s portfolio of images, and download a digital copy of the studio’s Magazine and Style Guide to learn how to prepare for your photoshoot:

Link to the studio’s portfolio.

Link to the studio’s Free Magazine and Style Guide.

Categories
Backdrops for Photoshoots

Studio Backdrop: Portable Medium Gray

The best thing about a photograph is that it never changes, even when the people in it do.

-Andy Warhol
Andrea in red is giving me life.

This medium gray textured backdrop is a little less than 5′ wide making it ideal for layering with other backdrops in the studio. It’s also ideal for transporting in a vehicle if I’m shooting on location.

In the photo of Andrea, above, the backdrop is layered with the Old Masters Brown. If layering isn’t your thing, the gray backdrop can be easily extended in Photoshop. Here’s an example:

Laura is a participant in the Wise Women: 50 over Fifty Project.

The studio has five additional hand painted gray backgrounds to choose between for portrait sessions: charcoal gray, chalk paint blue-gray, light gray and warm light gray. For a more commercial look, seamless paper is also a favorite choice.

Link to the studio’s portfolio.

Link to the studio’s Free Magazine and Style Guide.

Categories
Backdrops for Photoshoots Tutorial

Studio Backdrop: Charcoal Gray

What I like about photographs is that they capture a moment that’s gone forever, impossible to reproduce.”

-Karl Lagerfeld
Andrea looks luminous in a grayscale palette.

For the studio’s backdrop project I created four gray backdrops in shades from light to dark. The light gray and charcoal gray are roughly the same dimension, perfect for individuals, couples and smaller groups. The two smaller gray drops are ideal for individuals, or for layering with larger backdrops.

My general rule for backdrops is to photograph lighter colors on lighter backdrops and darker colors on darker backdrops. When selecting a backdrop the main goal is to complement the model’s wardrobe. On an interesting note, gray isn’t a color at all because it does not exist on the color wheel.

According to Wikipedia: “Gray is produced either by using black and white, or by combining equal amounts of cyan, magenta, and yellow. Most grays have a cool or warm cast to them, as the human eye can detect even a minute amount of color saturation. Yellow, orange and red create a “warm gray”. Green, blue, and violet create a “cool gray”.”

This color wheel is an indispensable tool that helps me choose complementary colors for photographs.

The charcoal gray backdrop is a neutral color and looks just as good with a pop of color as it does with a monochrome palette (as an example see Andrea’s cover image above). The texture in the charcoal backdrop was created by incorporating other neutral tones including light gray, black and white.

This backdrop was one of the last that I painted, so I was “unintentionally intentional” with the random painting technique opting to unleash my inner Jackson Pollock on to the canvas. I dipped a paint brush about a quarter inch into the can and then made slapping gestures with downward force to splatter the paint randomly across the surface. I had to continually remind myself to be careful with my gestures to avoid inadvertently spraying paint on the living room walls or the surrounding furniture (that had been pushed to the perimeter of the room).

This backdrop has lots of interesting texture thanks to my splattering paint haphazardly across the canvas.
When I felt as if a backdrop might be finished, I had to hang it and photograph it. Backdrops can look very different in a photograph than what the canvas looks like laying on the floor. Compare this image to the cover photo. I tested the backdrops using a mermaid crown from the studio’s collection.

Link to the studio’s portfolio.

Link to the studio’s Free Magazine and Style Guide.

Categories
Backdrops for Photoshoots

Studio Backdrop: Black V-Flats

Photography is the beauty of life captured.

-Tara Chisholm
Andrea photographed with natural light surrounded by black V-Flats.

Besides apple boxes, V-Flats are the hardest working equipment in my studio. The V-Flats are made from two 4′ x 8′ polystyrene boards that are taped together in a V shape with gaffer tape. A V-Flat is white on one side and black on the reverse side. The white side is used to bounce light. The black side absorbs light, which is also referred to as negative fill.

In addition to adding or subtracting light, V-Flats also make terrific backdrops. A set of V-Flats has a permanent home as a backdrop in a corner of the studio. Then there are three more V-Flat sets and two individual boards that are moved around the studio, as needed, to either control light, or act as backdrops.

My preference is a backdrop that is 10′ x 15′ or even 20′ long so I can spend less time in Photoshop. There are so many better ways to spend my time than expanding backdrops and removing taped seams in photo editing software. Additionally, if I’m shooting a full length portrait with a V-Flat, I need to add a floor to the set. Usually I’ll lay down a strip of 4′ x 10′ black fabric over the wood floor to make the set look like a seamless backdrop when it is not.

Transporting 4’x8′ polystyrene boards requires a truck. The sign company provided two pieces of cardboard to protect the polystyrene in transit. We also used the cardboard to help protect our floors while gluing and taping the boards together. Two people can easily put the boards together but three people make it a party.

All this fuss created my desire to own a much larger, darker, textured, so long it sweeps the floor, hand painted canvas. In July, while sheltering indoors from Covid-19, I painted what I coined the Old Masters Brown backdrop. While I was at it, I painted twelve more backdrops too. Once I started it was difficult to stop. Now I primarily use the brown backdrop and reserve the use of the V-Flats when photographing wall poses in the corner of my studio.

With so many backdrop options to choose from in the studio, V-Flats will remain in the mix. Both white and black V-Flats look great as backdrops, especially when photographing in the corner. Here’s some examples:

A dramatic low key lighting portrait of Malcolm.
High school senior portrait session with Trinity to document an important milestone in her life.
Savannah receiving the all-star treatment between photographs.
Triptych of Claudia of her channeling Old Hollywood glamour.
A dramatic fine art nude maternity portrait of Amber.
This beautiful family portrait of Claudia and her family earned a Bronze award from The Portrait Masters.
For family sessions, like this one with Dawn and her daughters, everyone is photographed individually and together.
High school senior Trinity had her sister join her in a couple of sets during her photoshoot.
Three quarter portraits can easily be cropped into headshots adding to the versatility of an image.
An engaging personal branding-style image for Beth Keil.
Ursula photographed in the studio’s corner.

I’ve been forty years discovering that the queen of all colors is black.

-Pierre-August Renoir, French Impressionist Painter, 1841-1919

Link to the studio’s portfolio.

Link to the studio’s Free Magazine and Style Guide.

Categories
Backdrops for Photoshoots Tutorial

Studio Backdrop: Old Masters Brown

There is a vast difference between taking a picture and making a photograph.

-Robert Heinecken
Andrea captured in a chiaroscuro-style photograph featuring the studio’s new textured brown backdrop.

Old Masters refers to a group of renowned European painters that spanned the time period of roughly 1300 to 1800, from the early Renaissance through the Romantic movement. Some instantly recognizable names of Old Masters are Rembrandt van Rijn, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Caravaggio, to name only a few.

When perusing through a collection of Old Masters’ paintings, frequently the backgrounds are deep brown and textured giving an overall warmth to the scene. Brown and helps colors such as white, ivory, orange red and gold to pop on the canvas. Brown does not have a spot on the color spectrum. The color is made by mixing red (or orange), yellow and black (or blue).

The color brown is reportedly the least favorite color of the general public and yet a section of the Old Masters’ portraitists found that earthy brown enabled brighter colors to pop on a canvas. As for me, brown is the color of a few of my favorite things: chocolate, coffee, oak barrels (especially when aging red wine), yummy carbolicious russet potatoes, the beautiful Sonoran desert and raptors, in particular owls.

Top Row Left to Right: Rembrandt (1606-1669), Van Dyke (1599-1641) , Rembrandt Bottom Row left to Right: Bagilone (1566-1643), Rembrandt, Velázquez (1599-1660)

Rembrandt, Caravaggio and van Dyck, among others, employed a style of painting called chiaroscuro. This effect has a monochrome look where the subject’s wardrobe matches the background so that the subject’s features illuminate out of the darkness. The most popular color for creating this effect is brown.

The most difficult part of painting for me is selecting the colors for the project. Without a plan in place the paint sample display at a retail store will look like a big confusing grid of color. To hone in on the best colors for your project it is really helpful to have a color reference in hand to either make a match to the free color samples, or have the paint retailer run a color match.

When I initially thought I was painting one double-sided backdrop I agonized over the colors. The painterly style photographs I make generate the biggest buzz. Many of those images were photographed on textured gold and red backdrops. I wanted a darker option that was not too black and not too brown, but just right.

Black V-flats are featured as a backdrop in nearly every photoshoot. It’s a versatile background that has a gradient look to it with tones of white and gray where the light is prominent. Model: Chrisie Ballard.

I like photographing clients against a black V-Flat, which is a polystyrene board. In a photograph it looks like more of a charcoal gray gradient than solid black. My sister, Juliette advised that the best way to compare colors is to take the reference material into the sun and compare it to the paint sample cards to identify the best match. So that’s what we did. After viewing the polystyrene board in the sun, the paint we selected had a blue cast to the black, which I did not anticipate. The color brown that we chose is a Behr flat interior paint called espresso bean. It is definitely a rich brown that has a black undertone to it.

Performing the sun test with the black polystyrene board and various paint samples.

My big mistake right from the get go is that I inadvertently purchased an oil based primer. I didn’t know that oil-based primers were still available to purchase. I was a little confused when I tried to thin the primer with water and the primer wouldn’t mix with the water. This was a bit of a head scratcher for me. And I’m embarrassed to say I didn’t figure it out until after I completed painting both sides of the backdrop using a whopping two gallons of primer on the 12×15 canvas. This also means that the primer alone on the canvas weighs in at a little less than 20 pounds.

I woke up one morning and the first thing that popped into my brain was that I had somehow purchased an oil-based primer instead of latex. And that’s why the oil and water weren’t mixing together into a smooth emulsion. Plus the oil primer has a strong aroma, much more so than latex paint. Doh! Sure enough, when I checked the empty can it clearly read oil based primer on the label.

Painting the base color of Espresso Bean by Behr with an inexpensive roller. Thinning the paint with water and then applying it randomly creates texture.

The problem is that over the long haul latex paint may not adhere to an oil-based primer. I couldn’t get a clear answer from multiple sources on whether the paint will indeed peel over time. Unfortunately, the part of the backdrop that flows onto the floor is peeling a bit already from normal wear and tear of furniture movement during photoshoots. So while the oil primer was a mistake, perhaps even a regrettable one over the long haul, I do think the oil primer lent a richness to the finish that is clearly different from the acrylic over acrylic backdrops that I painted.

Despite my whopper of a mistake, I am really happy with how this backdrop turned out. The rich brown is a neutral color, which means all warm colors look great against it as do most of the cool colors, especially the lighter hues.

A little air in the hair is one of my favorite things for longer tresses.

Link to the studio’s portfolio.

Link to the studio’s Free Magazine and Style Guide.