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Savage has a huge selection of backdrops, whether you’re looking for seamless paper backdrops, muslin backdrops or a specialty backdrop – Savage has got you covered! If you’re looking to switch things up for your shoot I would consider using gels and lighting to get different effects. I use gels for a lot of my beauty & fashion work; I love adding a pop of color against a dark background for drama. Recently I’ve found that working with lighter backdrops allows me to create new colors and different lighting patterns in my images.

For headshots and portraits, I keep my lighting setup pretty simple with just 1 light but when I’m shooting bright backdrop colors I find that adding an additional background light punches up the color and gives my shot a vibrant look. I was shooting against my pink backdrop one day and wanted to see what would happen if I added another color to it. I added an orange gel to a 7″ silver reflector and feathered it toward the background. After playing around with the power of my background light and its position, I found a sweet spot that made a light gradient from a nice soft peach to a pink as you can see in the image of Abbey above.

Now I know that you can add in gradients with post production, but that always seems too fake for me, and the images can come out a bit too perfect for my liking. I think that experimenting with light, shapes and color in your background can give you endless possibilities in your photography!

Girl in Bathing Suit Photographer: Travis Curry | Model: Dani Stup | HMUA: Sara Elizabeth

For the image above, I shot on Fashion Gray – I wanted to create a sun-flair, hazy look for this shot. I knew that by adding some orange as a side light, with nothing else to bounce or stop the light that I’d have some light spill onto the background which would change it from Fashion Gray to something else. I loved the results I got in camera because it was such a unique, hazy color that I created.

Girl in Bathing SuitPhotographer: Travis Curry | Model: Dani Stup | HMUA: Sara Elizabeth

Experiment with Gels!

Gels can be used to offset or balance out color in your image. For Weddings & Events some photographers use CTO gel to match indoor ambient light (ie/lamps). I find that I use Gels for a more creative purpose over technical purpose. For the two images below, I wanted to have a more defined change in color rather than in my top two images that were more soft. When using gels – it can be really easy to completely change your backdrop’s color completely – you just change the power and placement of your background light. For these images, I wanted to have more defined colors rather than a smooth gradient, so I placed my light (silver reflector) closer the background which in turn created a dramatic light falloff which translated into a more defined gradient for the images. I also experimented using flags to block light and cinema foil to further shape light around my reflector.

Model with short hairPhotographer: Travis Curry | Model: Amanda Campbell | HMUA: Sara Elizabeth

Model w/short hairPhotographer: Travis Curry | Model: Amanda Campbell | HMUA: Sara Elizabeth

Model with short hairPhotographer: Travis Curry | Model: Amanda Campbell | HMUA: Sara Elizabeth

Use Shadow to Your Advantage

Another way you can create unique backgrounds is to create shadows. Whether you use something like a GOBO to create shapes of light or shoot through a set piece to create a shadow. For this final image, I set a circular reflector on it’s black side, which blocked any light getting to the backdrop. Using objects to create shadows in your images can be a really creative way to make unique backdrops and bring something different to your images.

Blonde model purple backgroundPhotographer: Travis Curry | Model: Ryan Leigh | HMUA: Sara Elizabeth

What’s next for me is to branch out and use different gel colors, multiple gel lights, shadow makers and new savage backdrops to see what new backdrop combinations I can come up with next!

I hope that this post has sparked some interest in different ways you can use gels and lights to change up your backdrops!


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