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Backdrops for Photoshoots

Studio Backdrop: Old Masters Red

There is a shade of red for every woman.

-Audrey Hepburn
Portrait of Andrea. Leonardo da Vinci wrote, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Five hundred years later, his words are still true.

Red was the first backdrop that I purchased for the studio. I agonized over the decision for an entire day before hitting the buy button. Hand painted backdrops are not inexpensive items – especially in a larger size – so I could not be cavalier about the decision. A more neutral backdrop would have perhaps been the wiser choice, but I’ve never regretted the decision. When a girl wants a pop of color, she wants a pop of color.

Maddie in a variant of Marie-Antoinette styling. I decorated the wig on the fly, letting my intuition guide me on where the jewels, flowers and embellishments should be pinned.
Painterly portrait of Trina in the Old Master’s style. Trina visited the studio to be photographed for the Wise Women: The 50 Over 50 Project.
Ursula looking fierce and fabulous.
Ashley and Chris in a fun, stylized set.

If one says ‘Red’ – the name of color – and there are fifty people listening, it can be expected that there will be fifty reds in their minds. And one can be sure that all these reds will be very different.

-Josef Albers, Painter and Designer, 1888-1976
1920s inspiration for this high school senior session with Savannah.

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.

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Backdrops for Photoshoots

Studio Backdrop: Vintage Pink

Every woman should have something pink in her wardrobe. It is the color of happiness.

-Christian Dior
Andrea and I contemplated this color combination for awhile. We took the dress and hung it on the backdrop and stood back, assessing the colors together. I really like how her lipstick perfectly matches the color of her dress. Scroll down to see a more monochromatic pink on pink pairing.

I didn’t realize how much I like the color pink until I started photographing it. For as much as I love color, my personal wardrobe is filled with black, like my heart (just kidding… it’s what popped into my head as I was typing).

There are two reasons I predominately wear black. First, it is a slimming color. I feel my best when I wear dark colors. For the greater part of my adult life I have struggled with maintaining a healthy weight (which I confronted and addressed in 2020). Second, black camouflages stains. Unfortunately I tend to spill things on myself way too often so black mostly hides those pesky coffee, chocolate, red wine and crafting stains. #kiddingnotkidding

My color reference for painting the backdrop was this phenomenal tulle robe. Isn’t it dreamy and wonderful? Before declaring a backdrop finished, I hung and photographed it with a color reference to verify the colors between the paint and fabric were complementary. And this is how it looks in a portrait, just as I imaged how fabulous it would be:
Trina was so excited to wear the tulle robe for one her six looks. Doesn’t she look magnificent? She participated in the Wise Women: 50 Over 50 Project.

I noticed one day, while perusing through my portfolio, that I frequently photograph pink on both the gold and blondie silver backdrops, and in front of the Bay window to capture the ethereal look that I adore. And let’s not forget the flower wall, which has a plethora of pink and peach colored flowers.

Evelyn visited the studio to participate in the Wise Women: The 50 Over 50 Project. This is her husband’s favorite image from her portfolio. A scroll stopper for sure. Notice how the pink backdrop is brighter in this image and darker in the one above. The pink can be toned to match the mood of the image.

When I embarked upon The Backdrop Project, I decided that I wanted a pink backdrop. I ended up adding in a bit of a chocolate color to give the backdrop some depth. I also painted this backdrop towards the end of the project when I was feeling freer to experiment with painting techniques. Maybe it was from smelling paint fumes for nearly two weeks in a closed up house at the end of a very hot, almost monsoonless, July.

I added texture to the backdrop by spraying thinned paint through a heavy duty spray bottle that I purchased at Home Depot. The nozzle eventually clogged and gave its last spray. Fortunately, the death of the spray bottle was toward the end when I was questioning whether the drop was finished. I’m frequently asked how I know when a creative project is done. In this case, the sprayer was done so I was done.

The spray bottles worked overtime during The Backdrop Project.

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.

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Backdrops for Photoshoots Tutorial

Studio Backdrop: Apricot

Colours are the smiles of nature.

-James Henry Leigh Hunt
When in doubt, go monochrome. Andrea did just that for this image featuring hues of peach and apricot.

Back in the late 90s, my family and I lived in San Jose, California. My husband and I purchased our first home during a pro-seller market. Houses were selling quickly after being listed and often there were bidding wars. It was a dream come true to successfully navigate those nerve-wracking real estate market conditions and to finally own a home, a home that I could decorate the way I wanted. A home that had a large backyard with green grass and an enormous mulberry tree, a large cherry tree and two mature apricot trees that produced the most amazing fruit.

It was during that time that Pottery Barn introduced faux painted walls to the masses. I loved turning the pages of their dreamy catalog and seeing the beautifully colored and textured walls with admiring eyes. After living in rentals with white walls, I wanted to live with color. My sister, Linda, bless her heart, visited for an extended period of time and taught me how to faux paint after she had mastered the technique after experimenting with painting the walls in her home.

The completed purple backdrop in the background with the apricot backdrop drying in the foreground. Towards the end of the backdrop project I started mixing the paint colors in the tray and lightly picking them up with the textured roller.

Together Linda and I faux painted the living room apricot with accents of terracotta. The colors in the backdrop are similar except that the walls in my California home were darker. After the painting was complete, I purchased velvet curtains from Pottery Barn for the big window. My living room looked like it had been photographed for a magazine. I was in interior designer heaven.

Continuing on we faux painted the family room and master bedroom a subtle yellow, the color of a Bee’s wax candle. The kitchen’s accent wall was painted a reddish terracotta and carried through to the entry way and down the bedroom wing’s hall. The dining room and guest bedroom featured seafoam green walls. My daughter’s room was purple. The au pair’s room a light blue. It sounds awful, like a big color mishmash, but it worked.

During the month of July 2020, during the extended Covid-19 quarantine, I embarked upon what I coined, The Backdrop Project. I spent weeks painting photography backdrops in similar hues to the colors I chose for the walls of my California ranch home. (What goes around, comes around.) Linda and I only used brushes on the walls in California to blend and mix the paint. A textured roller from Home Depot was infinitely easier to work with to add texture to many of the backdrops, including the apricot hued canvas featured in this post.

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.

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Backdrops for Photoshoots

Studio Backdrop: Vibrant Gold

Why fit in when you were born to stand out.

—Theodor Seuss Geisel
Andrea was excited to wear black lipstick to match her black wardrobe.

As the proverb goes, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I purchased a gold backdrop many years ago and it is one of my favorites to use to help create painterly-style portraits. Its limitation is that it is small. I set out to paint a larger backdrop using the gold backdrop as a color reference.

I brought the gold backdrop outdoors into the sun and I laid paint color samples from Home Depot directly on the backdrop to help with the selection process. I chose three colors: a light, mid-tone and dark to blend together on the canvas.

I thought I did a good job selecting the colors but in the final analysis I didn’t quite nail it. The backdrop turned out to be a much more vibrant gold than I had anticipated. I decided two gold backdrops are better than one. The older, smaller backdrop is more subdued and the newer, larger one is more vibrant.

The small gold backdrop that I love so much is hanging in front of the unpainted canvas lying on the floor. It was there to act as a visual reference as I painted the new larger canvas.
My husband captured this photo of me painting the backdrop in our family room.
Oh how she glows.

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.

Andrea is wearing her own black bodysuit paired with the studio’s tulle skirt and lace stilletos.
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Backdrops for Photoshoots

Studio Backdrop: Gold

Nothing can dim the light that shines from within.

-Maya Angelou
As you can see from this portrait of Andrea, the gold backdrop – layered here with the blondie silver – is not large. On the bright side, the smaller size makes it portable. Andrea paired her shimmering top with one of the studio’s sequin covered skirts for an eye-pleasing mostly monochromatic look.

This gold backdrop has been a studio favorite since the day it arrived. It has strong texture which is ideal for creating portraits that have a painterly look. A painterly style in photography is a term used to describe characteristics of paintings, including colors and textures. If a photograph has characteristics of a painting, it is defined as having a painterly style.

Maddie with Marie Antoinette-inspired styling, traditional posing, unified tones and a variety of textures is intentionally painterly. Yes, that’s really a tin ship atop her head.
This legacy portrait of Ursula and her daughter is soft and beautiful and will be in their family for generations.
Lovely Devi is a Wise Women: 50 Over 50 Project participant. The Jessica McClintock blue velvet coat has been in Devi’s wardrobe since the 1980s. Velvet is always a great choice for a photoshoot because of the rich tones and resistance to wrinkles.
Sisters make my heart sing. They loved the Charlie’s Angels vibe.
Savannah is radiant in gold. The BCBG evening dress that she is wearing is part of the studio’s wardrobe collection.

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.

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Backdrops for Photoshoots

Studio Backdrop: Blondie Silver

It’s more important to click with people than to click the shutter.

-Alfred Eisenstaedt
Andrea looking fierce in a metallic evening gown paired with pearl accented stiletto heels.

The general rule of thumb for styling a photoshoot is that we photograph cool tones on a cool toned backdrop and warm tones on a warm toned backdrop. I have found that the “Blondie Silver” backdrop plays nicely with both cool and warm tones making it extremely versatile to photograph a range of looks and styles. I can also push the final toning of an image into cooler or warmer tones, as you will see while scrolling through the images in this post.

The “Blondie Silver” backdrop is large, measuring about 10’x20′. The largest group I have photographed with it is a family of eight. The backdrop also looks good when layered with the studio’s darker gold backdrop for added texture and framing.

Chrisie rockin’ the animal print and not much more. Chrisie visited the studio to participate in the Wise Women: The 50 over 50 Project.
Same Rembrandt lighting as the cover photo, just an alternate pose for Andrea.
Mother and son legacy portrait of Abby and Mauricio. We planned the timing of this photoshoot perfectly. Dad arrived with Mauricio after Abby had been styled, dressed and placed on set, just waiting for her son to be delivered to her arms. We had about 8 minutes to capture the shot, which felt like all the time in the world, before Mauricio wanted to investigate the new environment.
Someone cracked a funny. Dawn and her daughters having a laughing fit during the photoshoot. Yes, photoshoots really are this fun. You’ll love the photoshoot experience just as much as you do your beautiful images.
Ali is captivating in this monochrome look.
Amelia is pretty in pink. The wig was decorated on the fly during the photoshoot. It’s best not to overthink the bling for Marie Antoinette-inspired styling. We just go with it!
Beauty portraits of Maddie for the holidays.
Maddie styled in an oversized, off-the-shoulder pink sweater.
Behind the scenes of Julianne’s maternity photoshoot. The gold backdrop is layered on the floor to extend the reach of the “Blondie Silver” backdrop.
Flowing fabric is a personal and client favorite. In this particular case, Julianne’s husband did an excellent job of throwing the fabric. I promised him that he wouldn’t have to hand in his man card after the photoshoot.
Savannah looking fabulous in copper sequin frock with matching crown, both items are part of the studio’s wardrobe and accessories collection.

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.

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Backdrops for Photoshoots Natural Light Portraits

Studio Backdrop: Flower Wall

After women, flowers are the most divine creations.

–Christian Dior
I could tell by Andrea’s subtle reaction that she thought I was a bit crazy when I suggested placing that ginormous flower on her head as a hat. Happily, because you are seeing it here means it was one of her favorite images. I was inspired by the famous photograph by Patrick Demarchelier of Christy Turlington. This image was captured with natural light available from the Bay window.

The flower wall has been a studio staple since May 2019. It consumes a lot of space and every couple of months I toy with the idea of dismantling it or rolling it up and stowing it in the garage for awhile so I can clear space for a new backdrop. But every time I go to break it down, a client requests to add it to their photoshoot set list. So it remains. Admittedly the flower wall brings a bit of whimsy and good cheer to the studio no matter the season.

Chrisie is looking fabulous lying on the flower backdrop. Chrisie visited the studio to participate in the Wise Women: The 50 over 50 Project. This portrait is captured with natural light coming through a big Bay window. The Bay window is frequently used as a backdrop for photoshoots.
A behind the scenes glimpse of capturing Chrisie’s flower portrait in natural light. A big thank you to Gayle Petrillo for capturing the action.
Coral is a gifted dancer. Swan Lake was my inspiration for the styling of this image. A studio strobe provided the light which added some lighting drama.
As you can see, the flower wall is quite large. It was assembled by placing thousands of flowers by hand through chicken fencing. The creation of the wall was made possible by Michael’s 70% off floral sales and blooms purchased at the Dollar store.
Many expectant mother’s love to include a set of images with the flower wall in their portfolio of maternity images.
Behind the scenes maternity photoshoot with Julianne.
Abby was the first to be photographed in the “field of flowers” look. While she looks like she was photographed in natural light, this photograph was captured with studio strobes.
A moodier field of flowers portrait of Abby.

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.

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Backdrops for Photoshoots Headshots and Personal Branding Natural Light Portraits

Studio Backdrop: Mobile Canopy

Color is a power which directly influences the soul.

-Wassily Kandinsky
Andrea photographed in natural light, towards the end of the day, when the sun was turning the evening light golden and a light breeze made the fabrics sway in the wind.

A 10′ x 10′ pop up canopy is an ideal structure to create an outdoor room. It’s tall enough to set-up a backdrop under the canopy to replicate a studio environment. The white fabric roof acts as a large softbox that diffuses the sun and softens sun light. One or more studio lights can be added to give direction to the light and provides an extra bounce of brightness to the eyes.

One of my favorite uses for the canopy’s frame is to hang sheer fabrics that catch the wind and reflect the rays of the sun making for a pretty and feminine backdrop to capture creative portraits.

Devi is ready for her picture to be taken for the group photo (see below).

In the late summer I was commissioned to photograph the outgoing Committee Chairs for the Marana Chamber of Commerce. Every year the Chamber has a group photo and the Chamber’s leadership team was concerned that it wasn’t going to happen this year due to COVID-19. Fortunately, I was able to photograph each person separately and then combine all the individual photos into one composited image. #missionaccomplished

Each person was photographed separately in the outdoor canopy to adhere to social distancing guidelines. Afterwards the ten images were combined in Photoshop to create a group photo.

My next venture with the tent will be to swap the white fabric for black. I am inspired by the work of Peter Lindbergh, and in particular, his “sun bounce cage”. The famous fashion photographer set-up three sided black tent to capture memorable monochromatic photographs of famous models and actresses.

One more of Andrea in the “outdoor” room.

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.

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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