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Creating a Look with Floor Drops

Working in Phoenix where temperatures routinely hit 100 degrees for months at a time, I quickly learned what the local photographers know too well: location shoots aren’t always a good idea. Likewise if you happen to live in Chicago you know that wintertime can make shooting outdoors impossible. Photographers are slaves to the elements.

Yet there’s no predicting when you’ll need that perfect setting that you’ve scouted in nicer weather, such as a ramshackle building with a worn concrete floor and old wood walls. Or a grassy football field for making portraits of athletes. Such locations exist only outside the studio. What if you need that look but don’t want to freeze to death, or see your model dripping with sweat while you’re shooting? Or what if you simply want to recreate a certain favorite scene over and over again?

The solution is to re-create a location in the studio using backdrops. Photographers are familiar with popular photo backdrops such as seamless paper, vinyl, and muslin which feature solid colors and a variety of patterns. These have been successfully used for years. However, to go beyond patterns and begin replicating actual scenes with depth and realism, nothing works better than Floor Drops.

woman standing against diamond plated wall
Photo by Ryan Walsh, Featuring Diamond Plate Grunge Floor Drop

Savage Floor Drops

Floor drops have quickly been embraced by photographers because of their versatility, lifelike appearance, and durability. No one except you and the model will know you’re using a floor drop! With 24 realistic, dimensional styles to choose from Savage, running the gamut between elegant and grunge, they save hours of frustration by making it easy to create a plethora of looks whether in the studio or on location (assuming the weather is nice!)

The great thing about floor drops is that they don’t just work on the floor. They can easily be used as backdrops too by simply hanging them as you would a normal photography backdrop. Combining two floor drops, one on the wall and the other on the floor, is a popular technique that gives photographers unlimited creative freedom.

model posing on industrial grunge wall
Photo by Ryan Walsh, Featuring Industrial Grunge Floor Drop

With a soft polyester feel to the patterned side, and a heavy-duty, non-slip rubber backing, Savage Floor Drops are well constructed and easy to work with. Reflections won’t show because of the glare-free finish, and you’re assured a flat, unwrinkled surface. They’re built to withstand heavy use and roll up for easy transport & storage. With two available sizes, 5’ x 7’ and 8’ x 8’, you’ll have it covered because the compact size is adequate for portraits, three-quarter shots and most product shots, while the larger size is suited for making full body shots.

Styles for Everyone

Let’s say you want to photograph a model in an upscale, luxe home environment. A good choice would be an elegant oak wood floor drop. Depending on the tone you’d like, you can choose between the Rum Oak Floor Drop for a darker color or the Red Oak Floor Drop for a lighter color. Or perhaps you want the look of an older home in which case Savage has you covered with the Aged Oak Floor Drop. These all feature horizontally-aligned (side-to-side) patterns, yet the Handscraped Oak Floor Drop is vertically aligned (up-and-down) to give even more flexibility.

If you want a rustic background along the lines of weathered wood, such as you might find at a ranch or in an old mountain cabin, Savage offers several styles which makes sense especially if you’ve seen how often this type of backdrop shows up in ads and fashion. There’s the Antique Pine Floor Drop which has a splintered look, the Worn Planks Floor Drop with its right-at-home-in-the-barn appearance, the Whitewashed Floor Drop sporting a sun-beaten facade, and the Weathered Wood Floor Drop looking like the wall of a beautifully dilapidated shack.

See more: Using Your Imagination with Floor Drops

model posing on aged wood wall
Photo by Ryan Walsh, Featuring Worn Planks Floor Drop

There’s more. Want that ‘50s diner feel? Try the Classic Tile Floor Drop and its black-and-white tile design straight out of Happy Days. What if you’re after a condemned, deserted house from the same era? You’ll enjoy the Aged Pavers with all the broken tiles and fine cracks, or the Aged Brick Floor and it’s peeling bricks and sun-beaten feel. For that contemporary, ragged look, the Industrial Grunge satisfies with its likeness to an old concrete auto repair shop floor, while the Grunge Brick might have your audience thinking you went to an abandoned steel factory for your shoot.

Savage also makes floor drops that work great for sports, including the Center Court which mimics a basketball court, the First Base which looks like part of a baseball field, and a Grass Sports for making shots of football players or other athletes.

Combine Floor Drops and Backdrops

Used alone or in combinations, Savage Floor Drops can make a dramatic difference in your photography with the extra depth and dimension they lend to a scene. Yet they can also be put to great use by combining with traditional photography backdrops such as muslin and seamless paper for an entirely different look.

woman sitting on wood floor
Photo by Ryan Walsh, Featuring Antique Pine Floor Drop and Antique Brown Retro Muslin Backdrop

Especially popular in portraiture, combining a floor drop with a photo backdrop gives the photographer unlimited creativity when it comes to crafting a background. A common technique is to hang the paper or muslin backdrop down to the floor, and then place the floor drop on top so that it creates the illusion of an actual wall and floor. One example would be a white seamless paper “wall” and an Aged Brick Floor Drop. 

This is an area where your creativity can take over while you experiment with the dozens of available options. Instead of traveling for miles to find just the right location for your next shoot, check out the possibilities using floor drops and you’ll find yourself traveling less and shooting more.

Elias Butler

Elias Butler is a professional photographer and writer based in Arizona. He's written a book titled "Grand Obsession" and has been published in Sierra, USA Today, and Arizona Highways among many others. See Butler's website here.


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