When Should You Use a Collapsible Backdrop?

Written by: James Schuck, Published on: 11 January 2016

When Should You Use a Collapsible Backdrop?
Photo Courtesy of: Ryan Walsh Featuring: Lakeside Collapsible Backdrop

But they’re so small!

That is exactly the point. When you pull a collapsible backdrop out of your kit bag, they look like nothing that you can actually use. They fold up into such a small space and take up so little room you might forget they’re in there. Notice I said them. These little discs are so useful that they ought to come in pairs or even threes or more, and they make the transition from studio to location with such ease that you ought to have a few of them in a portable location kit at all times, ready to go. That will present you with another problem: you will be using them in your studio so often they might just become a standard part of your setup. You might just wind up with an army of them. They certainly won’t break the bank and you’ll wonder how you've ever lived without them. 

However you wind up using them, collapsible backdrops belong as one of the top ten essential tools you absolutely must have at your disposal at all times as a photographer, indoors or out, and they’re easy to use. You start out with a disc that’s about two feet wide in your hands, and with a flick of the wrist, you've got a five-foot by six-foot background ready to use. With a small stand you can set up a portable studio virtually anywhere you go. 

See more: How to Set Up a Collapsible Backdrop

model posing on brown collapsible backdrop Photo Courtesy of Ryan Walsh, Featuring: Earth Tone Collapsible Backdrop

Why Collapsibles?

One of the most important aspects of being a photographer is your ability to adapt on the fly. It is imperative to be prepared for the most unlikely of situations that would baffle lesser-prepared photographers. That’s why you need to have a few of these on hand: a client might arrive at your studio for a still life shoot and not like your choice of background, or worse, you find yourself on location in an environment that is ugly beyond imagination and you can’t figure out what you’re going to do to make a great portrait for your beautiful client, or her kids. Having a collapsible backdrop will provide you with an easy solution, and having several will offer your clients more to choose from, which is one advantage you don’t ever want to be without. There are always going to be fussy clients and your job is to be able to offer them options. Imagine how impressed your clients are going to be when you pull one of these rabbits out of your hat! This is especially true when photographing kids. Just open one and watch their eyes light up, although you may have to do it several times again, and getting them back to their minute storage size takes no effort at all, just a simple twist of the wrist. Being double-sided only increases your chances of finding a color your client will love.

See more: Why Should You Use Studio Backdrops?

model sitting posing on collapsible backdrop Photo Courtesy of Ryan Walsh, Featuring: Indigo Nights Collapsible Backdrop

Collapsible Backdrops as Reflectors

Not only will they serve as useful and elegant backdrops in a wide array of colors, consider the possibility of using them as reflectors as well. In addition to the many colors available, colors that will suit any condition or mood, collapsible backdrops are also available in vanilla and chocolate (reversible white and black actually) which can serve either as a high-key backdrop or a dramatic low-key one, but moved off camera can become the reflector that you’ll need to fill a dark shadow on the side of a subjects face. Conversely, if you encounter a subject with a flat broad light falling across her face, using the black side of a collapsible backdrop will add the drama you’re looking for by reducing the light on the side you place it. It will add a nice touch of modeling to your subject’s face. If you’re on location with only one light source, placing a white collapsible backdrop underneath your subjects face will eliminate any unwanted shadows, especially under their eyes, a technique that will make your clients look years younger, and a small touch like that will save you hours of post-production computer work, but will absolutely delight your clients. They’ll love you for making them look younger.

Collapsible Backdrops as Green Screens

model sitting posing on green collapsible backdropPhoto Courtesy of Ryan Walsh, Featuring: Chroma Green/Blue Collapsible Backdrop

Run out of backdrop choices for your client? What if you've pulled out every potential backdrop and haven’t found the right one to satisfy your client? Try using a green screen collapsible backdrop. If your demanding client doesn't like any of the choices you've offered them, keep a green screen backdrop in your kit. You will never, ever find a client who will object if you ask them where they want to go in the world. Wildlife safari? Nightclub? Waterfalls? Cityscape? Ask them what kind of a backdrop they’d like to see. Then give it to them. You have the answer. Collapsible backdrops. Whatever the response, you have the solution to their problem, and collapsible backdrops, as versatile as they are, will be the solution to every one of your problems as well, either in the studio or on location.

 

About James Schuck

James Schuck

James Schuck is a writer and photographer working in Southern California. He is a graduate of the School of Visual Arts in New York City and has photographed everything from Architecture to Auto Parts to Cookies to Portraits and Weddings.

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