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Dealing with leftover seamless paper scraps can be a hassle. It’s sad to say goodbye to used cut pieces of paper, and the realization of a roll coming to an end is even sadder. What if there was a solution that could extend the creative life of your rolls? If you have used seamless paper backdrops in photography setups, then you already know all the benefits we can get when shooting with paper made backdrops. The material is very versatile, it comes in a wide range of colors, and it has a nice smooth surface that will make your images look clean and professional.

Likewise, I bet you know that seamless paper backgrounds are not as long lasting as some other photo backdrop materials. Unfortunately paper is not washable, meaning that every time we’re done with a successful shoot involving full body shots, we have to cut the foot print-filled piece of paper from the floor area. This leaves us with a pile of paper scraps that we automatically send straight to the recycling bin, but we also have the option of reusing these to create more future successful shoots.

I want to show you 4 ways to reuse small, medium and large scraps of paper for photography and other purposes. This way you can get the most out of your seamless and take your studio creativity to the next level.

1. Installations

One of my favorite ways to use unwanted scraps is to create simple installations on an existing seamless background to enhance it. You can either stick smaller pieces in the desired form to add texture and design to the background, or add a larger piece to create the illusion of “a backdrop within a backdrop”. This will allow you to create mini sets for creative portraits and editorial looking images without spending extra money.

2. Canvas

Since these backdrops are made out of paper, they are obviously great as a painting or drawing surface to create interesting designs or even letters. I usually flip the piece of paper to the clean side and paint a design. It doesn’t have to be a Picasso painting, it can be anything from polka dots, lines, doodles or even words. Using the backdrop for this purpose will provide you an alternate easy way to create new concepts for a shoot if you’re looking to add something fun and new to your portfolio without having to break the bank. Feel free to use markers, spray paint, or anything that you would usually use on paper surfaces.

3. Props

Even though they are originally meant to be used as photography backdrops, there are other ways to include seamless paper in photography sessions without necessarily being placed in the background. A very convenient way to take advantage of medium and larger pieces of paper is to create props. Two of my favorite props to make with paper are windows and walls. I usually take a medium piece and cut a hole in the middle in a particular shape to use as a sort of window. I also like to use a larger piece to construct a wall as an addition to the set, by either holding the piece with clamps or covering foam boards with the paper piece. This is a great way to add the feeling of depth and create the illusion of a bigger set.

4. Reuse & Recycle

You can certainly find other ways to reuse and recycle these unwanted pieces that don’t necessarily have to be related to photography. Cut the scrap pieces in squares or rectangles of different sizes to use it for different sorts of craft projects. These will work perfectly if you have kids. Lastly and most importantly, remember to gather all the scraps that have already been used and drop them in the nearest recycle bin.

Now you’re equipped with new ideas on how to take advantage of your seamless paper backdrops. You can either follow these creative suggestions or you can experiment with the scrap pieces by unleashing your creative side and making your own props, installations and designs based on your photography style. The possibilities are endless when it comes to experimenting with paper, so get your creativity going and start using your unwanted paper scraps to up your photography set game. Remember to share your images using #ShootWithSavage to show us your way of using seamless scraps.

Elaine Torres

Elaine Torres Elaine Torres was born and raised in Puerto Rico, and is currently an Editorial and Portrait photographer based in Los Angeles, CA. Elaine graduated from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco with a Master’s degree in Art for Commerce Photography, specializing in color and visual composition. Her passion for sharing her knowledge in creative photography led to the launch of her YouTube channel, where she shares studio tutorials and photography related videos. You can also find her tutorials featured on photography channels and blogs like ISO1200, SLR Lounge, and Adorama TV, where she recently got included as one of their hosts.

“I take pride in my Hispanic culture, and I represent it in the way I work with color and light. My goal is always to awaken curiosity in everyone who looks at my work, to spark the interest to ask questions and admire the combination of beauty and oddity.”

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