An Introduction to Backgrounds for Portrait Photography


Photographer Miguel Quiles has created a quick, crash-course style video that explores the different types of backgrounds you can buy as a portrait photographer, and then explains why collapsible backgrounds might be the best option if you’re just starting out.

If you’re an experienced photographer, there won’t be any new information here. But for beginners, a quick overview of all the options out there and some tips on what to buy are both welcome. Quiles goes over the basics—from seamless paper backdrops, to vinyl backdrops, to using V-flats, to the custom painted canvas backdrops you’ll see on high-end shoots—before explaining why he thinks 5×7′ collapsible backgrounds like this one are the best option for most photographers.

He lays out three reasons why he thinks Collapsible backgrounds are “the best overall option” for portrait photographers:

  1. Portability: Being able to bring a nice backdrop with you on location is a huge plus.
  2. Easy to Set Up: Unlike seamless paper or canvas backdrops, collapsible backdrops are much faster and easier to set up and swap out during a shoot.
  3. Compact: Because they’re collapsible, they take up a lot less space in your studio. This is really important if you’re working out of your home, or don’t have a dedicated studio space.

They’re not quite as useful as a seamless, but you can still get great results, especially if you’re doing half-body or headshots. Here are some sample images that Quiles provided, which were all captured using collapsible backdrops made by the company Savage:

As a bonus, Quiles takes a second in the middle of the video to show you how to fold these large backgrounds quickly and easily. It’s something a lot of beginners struggle with, and also applies to large collapsible reflectors, so we’re glad he included it.

To see all of this and more for yourself, check out the full video up top. And if you want more portrait photography tips, tricks, and tutorials—including lighting, posting, and lots more—be sure to check out Quiles’ YouTube channel.

Image credits: All photos by Miguel Quiles and used with permission.

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