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.