Portrait Photography on a White Background: Tips & Tricks

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Shooting portraits using a plain white background may initially sound a bit bland, but Mark Wallace is here to show us how to change it up by sculpting light–a skill that is helpful to photographers of any genre. In the brief 18 minute video tutorial, Wallace explains to viewers what a GOBO is and how to easily build one for yourself. He then continues to demonstrate a variety of ways in which you can employ the new tool to give your boring backgrounds some flair. Take a look:

As you can see in the portrait below, Wallace was able to turn his white backdrop into a shade of grey with added textures all in-camera. By attaching a small grid to his Profoto strobe then placing his gobo–which he crafted using black foil and a leatherman–in front of the light, he was able to control precisely how much the light will expose on the background.

studio background paper

“A gobo can be anything–wood, black foil, you can use whatever. You’re just cutting shapes into that so the light shines through it and those shapes allow you to make shapes on the background. It’s the opposite of shadow puppets.”

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