3 Simple Ways to Hang a Portrait Backdrop

Setting up backdrops need not be a gladiatorial fight unto death with C-stands, clamps, tape, and the backdrops themselves. There are easier ways to set these up and enjoy the fruits of a professional looking backdrop. In this video, Jay P. Morgan shows us three simple ways to set up a backdrop:

1. Plumbing Pipes

Half-inch plumbing pipe is not only great for, well, plumbing, you can use them to hang your backdrop as well. All you need are long straight pipes and a few with elbows. Attach the elbows to plates that have holes in them to screw them to the ceiling / wall.

how to hang a background DIY

Plumbing pipes attached to ceilings are a good way to hang a backdrop.

Planning to have several backdrops for your home studio? Hang them at different heights and you have a way to set up different backdrops that you can use interchangeably.

plumbing conduits to hang backgrounds

Background being attached to ceiling using plumbing conduits

Certainly for some of these tips you need to have some shop class experience. Like the ½-inch pipes mentioned above? They don’t work with ¾-inch pipes. You need 1-inch pipes to slide over the ½-inch ones and create the long arm over which you can hang your backdrop. Additionally, 1-inch pipes are strong enough to support long backdrops.

For best results use A-clamps on either end to prevent the 1” pipes (with the backdrops) from sliding in and out of place.

2. Plumbing Pipes with C-stands

The second solution is to directly slide the 1-inch pipe to a C-stand. The 1-inch pipe slides easily into a C-stand arm. Prior to that, just slide the backdrop into the 1-inch pipe. To do this you will need to have a sleeve at the top for the entire length of the backdrop. You can either fold the top of the backdrop and have it stitched or ask the backdrop company to do this for you. The only expensive thing about this setup is that you will need two C-stands.

hanging backdrops using plumbing pipes

Plumbing conduits with C-stand

If you don’t have a C-Stand you can use a regular stand to hold the 1-inch conduit. How? Simply drill a 5/8-inch hole on either side, and the regular stands should slide right in.

DIY tips for hanging backdrops

5/8″ hole drilled on to the 10′ 1″ conduit then attached to a regular stand

Tip: What if you need a really long backdrop to be set up on location? Carrying something like a 10’ conduit can be a bit of a traffic nightmare. The solution is pretty simple though. Take 10-foot long 1-inch conduit, and cut it down to 6 feet. Take another 1 1/4-inch conduit also of 10 feet and cut it down to 6 feet. You can now slide in the 1-inch conduit inside the 1 1/4-inch conduit. Voila!

DIY backdrop holder

Flexible 10′ backdrop holder

You now have a 10 foot flexible backdrop solution for on location shoots. Don’t forget to use an A-clamp on location to prevent accidental sliding.

3. Backdrops for Reverse Angles

Reverse angles with backdrops are always a nightmare. Even if you get a really long backdrop there are chances that you could get off it when shooting. You need a way to set up your backdrop in a clever way so that this does not happen; and the solution is a bit tricky. As Morgan demonstrates, he had to bend a 10-foot conduit to produce a curve and then attach a long straight conduit to it. But bending puts a lot of stress on the pipes.

coved backdrop for photography

Who would’ve guessed pipe-bending is a part of photography?

So, he slid the 1-inch pipe into the 1 1/4-inch pipe, and the increased strength withstood the pressure applied when bending. The curved end was paired with a straight piece and once the backdrop was sleeved it produced a nice covered background for the shoot.

Cardellini clamps

Cardellini clamps

To set it up in the air, Morgan used Cardellini clamps. The clamp attaches to the pipe from behind. C-stands were used to attach to the clamps and to set the whole thing up in the air.

Hope you liked the ideas. Go ahead and use them to set up backdrops for your photography work.

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