Blog and photos courtesy of Lauren Pusateri
Rock and Roll Out Your Seamless Paper
I like to think I’m at my most powerful when I get to shoot on a colorful seamless backdrop. And while I love what seamless backdrops do for my work, there’s always room to play around and experiment with new techniques all while using that same seamless backdrop. Keep reading to find out all the ways I like thinking outside the roll. The best part? There are no wrong answers.
My approach to seamless backdrops is thinking of it like art class, except on a bigger scale. It’s basically giant paper crafts! So, break out the scissors and glue sticks (or X-ACTO knives and hot glue guns, because we’re adults now) and let your imagination run wild. Savage Universal backdrops are perfect for this because their consistency is durable but still easily cuts. They’re easily malleable to your vision. Hot tip: If you do end up with some crumples and creases after arts & crafts day, you can easily hide it with your lighting techniques.
Let’s start with cut-outs. My go-to cut-outs are circles because they come in handy for just about everything you’re trying to highlight, whether it’s faces or fashion. Plus, I can use my beauty dish to trace a circle big enough for heads and torsos to fit through, making it perfect for headshots. The circle cut-out also comes in handy when you’re creating content for social. LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook all feature circle profile pictures so why not make them fun. It is yet another way to differentiate yourself and make the most out of your available pixels. If circles aren’t your thing, you can come up with any kind of cut-out for your set. I use paper cut-outs all the time for my doggo shoots to create interest. Just look at the paper river created for a dog toy photo, you can recreate that instantly.
A seamless backdrop indicates you’re working with no seam in your photos and that’s great for some occasions. It comes in handy for subtle backgrounds and easy COB. But I’m not the most subtle person so I like to play around with the famously-dreaded seam. My favorite and most commonly used trick is to flip the end of the backdrop away from my subject. Gravity and the natural roll of the paper help to create a nice line at the bottom. You don’t even have to use tape! You can see in some of my work that I even add an extra roll at the bottom for some special magic. I want to prevent my subjects from looking like they’re floating in space so I like showing off that seam, whether it’s in a monochromatic shoot or by mixing colors.
I find seamless backdrops to be particularly life-saving when I’m out shooting on location, especially when you can’t control what the space looks like. My favorite party trick is showing people how I can build a set right in the middle of their stores. With decent ceiling height, some paper and clearance to set up a backdrop stand, you have an instant studio!
Now that you’ve mastered one colorful seamless backdrop, you can level up by mixing and layering multiple backdrops. Savage Universal makes multiple sizes of seamless paper, making it even easier for you to layer. Layering backdrops can help spice up the scene and add interest to a minimal set. I frequently use this technique for headshots but it comes in handy for product photography as well. And just like I said above, I don’t want my subjects floating in bright pink seamless backdrop space so I can play around with floor colors to prevent flat images. Layering backdrops also comes in handy when you’re low on resources. If I love a certain color but don’t have enough of it to make one backdrop, I can add it as the extra roll or even across the floor. Remember, there are no wrong answers.
Next time you’re struggling with a set, take some of these tips for a ride and I’m sure you will love what you create. Go ahead and ride that satisfying high of creating something with your hands and seeing it all work out before you even get to post-production.
If you want to see more of Lauren’s work, check out her Instagram!