Making my own Canvas Backdrop

I saw textured backdrops being used by some photographers that I loved - Jan C Schlegel, Dayron Vera, Clay Cook and the most famous user of a backdrop like this of course, Irving Penn (his was used for over 50 years). I felt that they looked so much more raw and interesting than a normal paper backdrops that are available to buy. There is a character to them that adds to the photo in such a subtle way, but it is insanely effective. I had found some amazing companies making these kind of backdrops, one of my favourites is Unique Backdrops - however, as I am just starting out, they were a little out of my budget, so I decided to try and make my own! I have linked all photographers/companies I have just mentioned down below.

Now I totally understand that the use of this will be completely different from what I usually do, but I just wanted to try my hand at it. I follow some absolutely amazing and inspiring portrait photographers who produce some stunning work - I wanted to see what I could do myself. There’s definitely nothing wrong with trying out areas of photography that you aren’t usually working in, it is all learning at the end of the day.

Check out the images down below to see how I made one of these backdrops. I bought a 3m x 2m piece of canvas, white & black paint, a paint roller with a long handle (so I don’t walk on the canvas), and a sponge. My girlfriend, Ellie, who is a graphic designer suggested the sponge and it what the piece of kit that made the look of it so much better than if I had just tried to used a roller or a paintbrush. This suggestion along with some others of hers really made all the difference to making an amazing looking backdrop.

This is how it started out, just a 3m x 2m piece of primed canvas - really glad it fitted in my studio, I didn’t think of that before I bought it!

This is how it started out, just a 3m x 2m piece of primed canvas - really glad it fitted in my studio, I didn’t think of that before I bought it!

1 - First, I applied the darker tones and blended them together, there wasn’t much need to be ‘neat’ at this stage.

1 - First, I applied the darker tones and blended them together, there wasn’t much need to be ‘neat’ at this stage.

2 - I then painted a lighter layer on top and this was blended in too, evening out the tones a little.

2 - I then painted a lighter layer on top and this was blended in too, evening out the tones a little.

3 - The next day, a much lighter after the other layers had dried properly - this was the exact look I was after, but it did take me over 2 hours for this one layer.

3 - The next day, a much lighter after the other layers had dried properly - this was the exact look I was after, but it did take me over 2 hours for this one layer.

4 - I then darkened the edges do give it a natural vignette look.

4 - I then darkened the edges do give it a natural vignette look.

5 - When it had dried the next day, I hung it up! It looks so good in my opinion and it is going to look amazing for any work with people in front of it.

5 - When it had dried the next day, I hung it up! It looks so good in my opinion and it is going to look amazing for any work with people in front of it.

This backdrop turned out so much better than I was expecting - it will look amazing with some people in front of it. I will definitely be trying it out over the next week to see what I can do. I’ll probably post some results here!

http://unique-backdrops.com/

http://www.janschlegel.photography/

http://www.dayronveraphotography.com/

https://www.claycookphoto.com/

https://irvingpenn.org/