Backdrops in photography are meant to enhance the photo but not take attention from its subject. Many photographers believe that plain backgrounds, such as bare walls, are generally not enough to make photos interesting and can actually make the photo appear less creative than it is. Others, however, appreciate posing subjects before bare walls because they allow photographers to play with brightness and contrast, particularly in black and white photos. If you use backdrops, match them with the photo's theme or client's wishes.
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Fabric can provide a rich and luxurious background. Look for sheets and curtains at fabric stores, flea markets and the clearance table at bed and bath shops. Attach fabrics to a wall or pole and let them hang as opposed to making them taut. Try various designs and materials or stick to one basic design or texture, such as velvet fabrics in burgundy (ideal for a formal shot), dark green colours for Christmas-themed portraits or animal print fabrics complimented by faux fur pieces for casual -- and possibly wild -- shots.
Create a beach backdrop several ways. Use large cutouts of ocean and beach images or import heaps of sand -- along with beach balls, seashells, plastic shovels, beach towels and beach chairs -- against an ocean background. Images of harbours or ships at sea can be an option, if trying to create a pirate-themed picture for a play or costume store. Such pictures can also include props like sand, treasure chests, fake gold coins and large seashells.
Create a lush forest background for a children's photo, show publicity photos and costume photos. Pair large forest images with real tree branches and twigs if possible. Place moss, flowers, plants and shrubs around the forest images and use plush versions of woodland creatures if creating a backdrop for children. If you can, add large stones to the backdrop for subjects to sit on or lean against. Another option is to create a fairy forest by sprinkling copious glitter on the images and using props like fairy wings and figurines.
For casual shots, photograph subjects against a wooden backdrop, such as a wood-panelled wall, or use sheets of wood in various sizes and textures. Paint the wood in assorted designs or patterns, though you will have to apply a primer first. If the backdrop still seems plain, stencil patterns on it, try sponge painting, or combine paint with chalk designs. If taking pictures of children, give them a few pieces of chalk to create a pattern or design on the wood before the shoot.
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