In portrait photography, backgrounds matter a lot. It dictates the mood and adds to the aesthetics of any given image. This is why you’ll see portrait photographers with dozens of backdrops in their studio. Having said this, you don’t necessarily need to invest a lot of money. As photographer Gavin Hoey with Adorama shows in today’s video, you can use something as simple as an emergency blanket to create some mind-blowing images.
Hoey uses a gold-colored emergency blanket as a background in three different ways. As you can see in the video, he creates three differently styled images with this backdrop, each with their own look.
He starts off with a gold-colored emergency blanket as a backdrop by sticking it on a wall. As for lighting, he uses a conventional setup with his subject lit from a 45-degree angle. But as you can see, the image comes out very flat and the whole essence of using gold gets lost. Also, there are distracting hotspots all over the image.
Hoey uses a simple trick to overcome this challenge: he elevates the light source and points it downward, so the light is reflected toward the floor and not directly into the lens. To ensure the colors are not messed up, he also uses a color-checker passport to create a profile to help him during post-processing. Immediately, you can see the images come out better.
Next, Hoey makes a slight change to the background by crumpling and stretching it to create random creases. He also places the model in between two such blankets at a tight angle. With the same lighting setup, the second batch of images appears much more luxurious.
For the final look, he places a sheet of the crumpled-up foil on the wall, lights the model from above and adds a reflector under the subject’s face to fill in the shadows. He also adds another light right behind the model and facing the backdrop, to add some highlights to the background. This subtle addition makes a huge difference—watch the video to see what we mean.
Have you ever gotten creative with portrait backdrops? Let us know in the comments.
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