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Muslin backgrounds have so many great elements to them that make them appealing to photographers. They are easy to transport, lightweight and fold up nicely whether you want to store them or take them with you on a job. They look extremely professional and hang or drape perfectly creating interesting soft shapes in the background of your photographs. Muslin backdrops also handle light well, can be easily modified with different color techniques, and are effortless to keep clean with either steam or hot water and gentle detergent. This type of photo backdrop is very appealing to many photographers and there isn’t a question as to why. They come in many different styles, which can make deciding on the one that is best for your project a tough choice.

Different Types of Muslin Backdrops

Here we will briefly break down and talk about six different types of muslin backdrops and what they are typically used for. Knowing the benefits of each one and what they have to offer will without a doubt help you to find the perfect one for your shoot.

Retro Muslin

Retro muslin backdrops are great for photo booths, special event backdrops or a fun pinup or vintage model shoot. They typically have a pattern to them and make for amusing photographs. Retro style muslins give the image character and a sense of time period. Savage Universal’s Antique Black and Black Cream muslins are wonderful examples of that. These muslins work great with subjects in bright colors really making them pop and be the main focal point. They allow for an interesting background that doesn’t take away from the subject.

antique brown retro muslinPhoto Courtesy of Ryan Walsh, Featuring: Antique Brown Retro Muslin Backdrop

Solid Colored

For basic headshots and business portraits, solid muslin backdrops seem to work the best. They are one solid tone and the muslin fabric absorbs the light well making for a clean background. When shooting these types of images, Savage Universal’s Gray, Black & White Muslin Kit would be ideal so you’ll also have a variety of choices at hand. White or gray backgrounds are popular for regular headshots, while black and gray have been popular for business headshots. The backgrounds do not distract from the subject and it gives off a sense of uniformity.

Crushed & Washed

When looking to add a subtle texture to classic portraits, family pictures and pet portraits you should use a crushed or washed muslin. The soft patterned backdrops add an emphasis on the subjects and a familiar feel to the image as a whole. Washed muslins, such as Savage Universal’s Dark Gray Wash, add depth to the photograph. Crushed muslins, such as Savage Universal’s Blue Winter or Gray Skies, can help to enhance a mood and create a sense of place. Either one makes for excellent portraits.

savage cranberry washed muslinPhoto Courtesy of Ryan Walsh, Featuring: Cranberry Washed Muslin Backdrop

Hand Painted

Hand painted muslin backgrounds are high quality and individually painted. Because they are handmade, no two look exactly the same. The rich mottled patterns give the elegant look of an old-world work of art. The way they are able to capture light provides a sense of depth and warmth to the piece. Savage Universal’s Pisa or Milano backdrops work well for portrait and product photography as well as videography.

veronia hand painted muslinPhoto Courtesy of Ryan Walsh, Featuring: Verona Hand Painted Muslin Backdrop

Pro Cloth

This is a heavy-duty, thicker cotton fabric that is perfect for large product photography or rugged location shoots where the photographer can trust that the backdrop will hold up. ProCloth, like Savage Universal’s Black or Gray, are ideal for situations in which you need a guarantee that your background will be clean, lint free, and durable throughout the shoot. These muslins create a dramatic appeal to your subjects and work well with colored gels.

No matter what you are looking to shoot, there is a muslin that is right for your photography needs. These guidelines should help to make your decision easier on which muslin to. Take into consideration what you are shooting, what colors are going to be on your subjects, lighting setups and the outcome you are hoping to get. All of this will help make your choice easier.

Cheryl Woods

Cheryl Woods is an accomplished photographer, designer and branding consultant with a career spanning 20+ years. Her photographic work includes editorial, fashion, portraiture and product photography for major companies in the consumer products field including QVC and Hanover Direct. She received a B.F.A. in Photography from the University of the Arts and an M.F.A. in Media Design from Full Sail University. Cheryl's work has been exhibited at the Lowes Museum of Art in Coral Gables, FL, The New York Independent Film Festival and the Rosenwald Wolf Gallery in Philadelphia, PA. Check out her website here!


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