Shooting in a studio is fun partly because you have total control over lighting and the environment. However, you also have the challenge of backgrounds in the studio. How can you get new backgrounds to shoot against constantly without spending an arm and a leg? That is the big challenge. You can purchase cloth of canvas or muslin backdrops. But those tend to cost quite a bit of money, and they are bulky and hard to store without serious issues of wrinkles. This is especially true of ones that are hand painted to look fancy. Some companies, like Lastolite, have some awesome choices. Lastolite has a collapsible reversible system that looks awesome
. But the panels are smallish at 5 x 7 feet and run $300 each. Ouch! So I started to think there had to be a better solution.
I had recently seen on CreativeLive photographers making solid color backdrops using foam core boards. Those are the boards that are foam in the center and foil on the two sides. Then one day I was walking through a home improvement store getting some stuff for the house and as I walked by the wallpaper the proverbial lightbulb went off for an idea. What about using that same foam core board and putting wallpaper on it. So I got one 1/2" 4 by 8 sheet ($8.99) and two different rolls of wallpaper that happened to be on sale for $14.99 each, and a can of spray glue. Now one side of the board is brick and the other is a fancy "Victorian looking" wall. The boards are stiff but they are also lightweight.
Katie and I went into the studio to try out the new backgrounds and, as you can see they worked really well. Not only do they look awesome for a smooth solid background, they also butt up against the side wall really nicely in the studio. And I get two different 4 by 8 backgrounds for only around $50 instead of $300. Oh I have wallpaper left too, so I am planning on getting another foam core and doing it up the same. That way I can put the two boards together side by side to get an 8 by 8 wall. Stick them together and clamp them with an A clamp and we are good to go. I am thinking I might need to put a really small L bracket top and bottom to clamp with, and will just have to maybe do a bit of clean up if they show in the photo.
One other thing that we came up with when shooting that day. I had some mirrors that had gotten left in the studio when we took the space over. In a moment of artistic inspiration we decided to start using them for background too. We were able to get some interesting added depth to shots, and more wonderful artistic expression. I also have used the mirrors recently for "reflectors" for light on the opposite side of a strobe. They work really well, although they are a little heavy and hard to maneuver. The lightweight reflectors tend to be better usually.
As you look at these photos take a close look at the lighting. Along with the simple and inexpensive backgrounds, we also used very simple lighting. All these shots were done with a single strobe. That is right, these are all one light photos. Beyond testing the new backgrounds, my other goal during this shoot was to work with just a single light and see what I could get out of it. This made the light setup very easy. I am thinking that in future shoots like this I want to use a reflector along with the light to soften the shadow side just a touch. But I love the intense textures of the shadows and light on Katie. She is really good at finding either a very intense or vulnerable look, and the single light really helps bring that out.
So give the background idea a try, and experiment with single light setups too.
How many times have you been on Facebook, or LinkedIn, or visited a website that has a photo of the person on it, and the photo is simply a snapshot at some family event (or worse yet at the bar) and they cropped it down to their face? If the photo is on Facebook it is passible since that is suppose to be a place for us to let our hair down and hang with our friends and family. It is sort of like a cyber bar of sorts. But when you are posting a photo on a professional site like LinkedIn that is totally unacceptable. You are projecting an image with your photo. You want that image to be professional, to show that you are someone that they should consider hiring, or contracting, or doing business with. You don't really want to skimp on your image. This is some of the most important marketing dollars you will spend.
This is also true of social media that you are using to promote your business. This is where image becomes very important on Facebook. My daughter and son-in-law run a business specifically to help people market their business on social media
. They have helped a number of businesses already in creating a positive and successful social media presence. The photos in this particular blog post are from a shoot I did for one of their clients. He works as a loan originator
, helping people get their dream homes. So he needs to show an image of trust, but also wants to show that he is approachable. This is how he can attract business. So when we did the photo shoot we worked at showing those qualities. Now he has photos that can be used in the social media marketing that he is working on building with New Media Design Studios
. I worked with the designers about what type of image they wanted. I also talked with Nick. We then did a shoot to get photos that fit the look.
It is not uncommon to hear from budding photographers how they can make money with their photography. Well this is a good example of a niche market that cannot be outsourced to another country, and can make you money. If you can learn to help create the proper image for a business person, or a business, then you have a great business of your own. And make sure you get good photos of yourself to market yourself to others. Oh, and a photo of "guy/gal with camera" taken in a mirror does NOT constitute a good photo for a photography business. That just shows lack of imagination. It is one of those majorly overdone cliche shots often seen on photography lists and even in photography marketing. And worse yet, many people take the same photos in a bathroom and posting it on Facebook or Hot-or-Not thinking it makes them look all sexy. This is a good time to trade services with another photographer. Shoot each other.
So sometime this week go up on LinkedIn and scan through your friends photos. Take a look at what they post. See how many use junk photos. And if they live close call them up and tell them you can help them with their professional image. It could be fun, and might even net you some money to help get that next camera or other bit of gear.