Due to the variety of sizes, colors, and finishes of seamless paper, it is often the preferred background of many photographers. It’s also very affordable compared to other photography backdrops. Because of the cost factor, many photographers do not take the time to care for their seamless paper thinking of it more as a disposable studio item. Dirt, dents and tears are the norm in many studios but it doesn’t have to be that way. Given the proper treatment, seamless paper can be used for up to several years.
No matter what storage method you use, you’ll need to get down pat the proper rolling and unrolling technique. Improper rolling is one of the major causes of seamless paper to go to waste. For bigger rolls (9′ or 12′) engage an assistant to handle one end. Roll it tight and even and you’ll be happy with your seamless for a long time to come.
Many people are tempted to leave the roll hanging on the backdrop thinking that the pole will prevent any damage. Over time however it will eventually develop an elliptical shape to the tube and you will have waves in your paper when you unroll it.
See more: How to Set Up & Use Your Seamless Paper
Tubes not only prevent moisture damage but they will also keep colored seamless from fading. You can make your own tube with a 4-inch PVC pipe or you can purchase ready-made cardboard tubes. Don’t forget caps if you are creating your own. In fact, both ends should have a cap that fits on securely to prevent dust, other airborne particles from getting on the backdrop.
Hanging seamless paper vertically will prevent warping and color degradation. Unless you prevent this type of damage, it will show up as creases, folds and color inconsistencies in your images. This will only add to retouching time and lost dollars. Storage accessories, such as a seamless paper clip holder, allow you to store multiple rolls in one area.
If you’re tight on space and need storage bins that can be moved around easily, a mobile roll file may be the best choice. Although the outside of the roll is still exposed to dust and light, you’ll be able to store up to 20 rolls, easily see the color choices and have the flexibility to move it any where you need to in your studio.
Preventing Wear & Tear
Any fashion or portrait photographer knows that shoes can wreak havoc on a paper backdrop. Both dirt and tears will use up your roll quickly. There are several ways to prevent this from happening including:
- Have assistants wear socks only while setting up lights and props. Another method is to use plastic hairnets on the feet — just like the booties doctors use in operating room.
- Place tape on the bottom of models’ shoes to prevent dirt from showing. You can even have an assistant wash the bottom of your subject’s shoes. Or, have the models keep their shoes off until ready for shooting and either the stylist or photo assistant can bring them to the model on set.
- Purchase a large piece of hard surface such as plywood or plexi and place underneath the seamless to prevent tears. Try 3/8” thick plywood in a b/c grade so that one side is smooth. Even plastic chair protectors from an office supply store can be used in a pinch. (1)
Using plexi glass on top of the seamless can also give you a nice effect. Use 2 sheets, 3 ft by 6 ft, 1/8 inch (about $65 a sheet) and you’ll get a nice reflection off the surface.
Treating your seamless paper with the utmost care can be one of the most valuable methods to save money on studio overhead costs. By following proper storage procedures, set-up methods and cutting tools that give you a clean, straight edge, you’ll have seamless paper that can last for years.