How to Use Bed Sheets as Photo Studio Backgrounds

A background plays an important role in studio photography. It defines the tonality and sets the mood. Studio photographers typically use expensive fabric as backgrounds for portraits for their quality and other benefits. But if you’re on a budget, using a bed sheet can be a good alternative. In this video, Gavin Hoey from Adorama demonstrates how you can use variety of sheets as backgrounds for your small home studio:

Plain Black Bed Sheet as Background

Hoey starts off with a plain black bed sheet for his background. Black sheets are great if you’re just starting out with studio portraits, because you need not worry about casting dark shadows on the background. Dark shadows are not visible on dark backgrounds. That’s one less thing to worry about.

If you get bored with the black background, you can point a light toward it. The black background now looks dark grey.

If the wrinkles on the background trouble you, use your lens wide open to blur them out.

budget black backdrop for studio photography

Striped Bed Sheet as Background

A challenge with stripes in the background is that if the stripes aren’t perfectly vertical, the effect will be noticeable in the picture. Also, the wrinkles can pose a challenge. Again, you can use your lens wide open to blur out the background.

using striped studio backgrounds

Patterned Bed Sheet as Background

Lastly, Hoey uses a patterned black bed sheet with a shiny surface as the background. When using shiny surfaces in the background, you can expect to have some interaction with the light. To make the patterns more visible, point a light directly toward it like we discussed previously. Interestingly, in Hoey’s session, the patterned background showed much fewer wrinkles than the other two sheets.

patterned studio backdrop

If you want to spice things up more, you can always experiment with lighting. Adding a gel can be a way to improvise and add some drama.

using gels for portrait backgrounds

While using bed sheet as your background does seem to be a budget friendly substitute for an actual backdrop, be ready for some regular ironing and steaming. Other than that, it just works. Give it a shot!

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