Lessons in Model studio shots Part 2: Backgrounds

Part 1: Introduction can be found here

Why oh why did I start the previous blog with part 1. Now I will have to start a part 2 to not look like the blabbermouth I am. ;-) Which I am not, I beg you pardon.

Good, enough rubbish, time for part 2.

Normally when we give a workshop we start by asking what he/she wants to reach and what he/she wants to learn.

(Ok to spare me some letters when I say he I mean he or she okay).

That is a bit difficult question through a blog and I don't want answers to that. However your questions might steer the future parts of this blog. Actually that's a good idea. Fire away those questions and I will try to create a part out of it.

Which still leaves my question, what to explain first.

You know what? I just pretend to be building up the studio and the first thing I touch I will spend this part on. Good let's take down the background.

YEP there we go part 2 is off:


As said in Part 1. we use paper backgrounds.

More particular rolls of 2,75 meters wide and 11 meters long.

They cost us about 60 Euro for white up to about 100 Euro for colors.

But you do not have to use paper. We also have cloth which we don't use very often. Hell even Vynil is present in our house which I only used once. Almost everything will do. What is important when shooting models for stock is to put the in an environment that is recognizable to the setting/clothing/accessories you use or that you keep an even background where it is easy for a designer to isolate the model from.

You want to serve your buyers a product which is adjustable to any needs he has for it.

Kee so far the little sidetrack and a few of the possible background. I want to stay with the ones we use which is paper white, black and grey.


White is the most used since it is most easy to shoot isolated.

By setting up your lights in such a way that you light out your white background it is easy to blow it out so to speak. What you want to do is overexpose all the white on the background around your model.

But be careful, white reflects lights which can get onto your model where you don't want it. What you want is to control the light on your model not to have to find out what to do with that extra light which reflects from behind. Therefor be sure to keep your model far enough away from that same overexposed background so your model does NOT catch these reflections. Also when having your model keeping her distance solves a problem of shadows on the floor. YES your light have something to do with that also and we get to that later. For now it is good to know that more distance from the background makes your shadows better controllable.

When I say overexposed that does not particularly mean that your lights on your background have to be so much brighter then the ones on your model but of course it helps. That what you can't solve on the floor for any reason you solve in your processing. Photoshop or what ever editor you use.


Black is, of course, the opposite of white. Black does not reflect. Black sucks and I mean sucks. It sucks your light instead of reflecting it. Which of course leaves you with other possibilities.

You can also isolate on black of course. You can shoot isolated on all colours as long as you control your lights and keep your differences between the outlines of your model in opposite of your background visible.

But black gives you another great opportunity. By letting the shadows in, for instance, your models face be as dark as your background you'll give a designer the possibility to cut out a broader piece and simply punt it on a black background so he can shove your image where-ever he needs it. Black also solves any shadow on the floor problems you might have. Black is nice when used with bright colours or special when shooting black clothes or persons on a black background. Just see where your artistic mind brings you.

Still black is not used to often. People tent to find white more comfortable, more positive. Who ever managed to convince humanity that black to white is as negative to positive? I don't get it.


Leaves us with grey. Grey is ease and beautiful. Grey is neutral. Grey does not reflect too hard. Grey does not suck to much. One of the best benefits of grey is you can colour it with your lights. Take any colour gel in front of your lamps and grey will turn into it. So if you want red yellow blue and green for backgrounds. Just buy grey and red, yellow, blue and green gells and your done. Or just use it as grey is, beautiful neutral.

Red, Blue and Green might be other steps in background since these are very easy to eliminate and replace with anything else.

The famous blue screen can be Blue, but also Red or Green with the same aspects.


Well so far for part 2.

Maybe with part 3 I get my vocabulary better on track, but I guess you understood what I meant to say.

Also as said in part one. Please try to look past all typos which I tend to make a lot.

Give me your questions and surprise me what part 3 is gonna be about. It does not have to be studio talk. To be honest, I am better getting models to do what I want (posing like) the lighting them ;-)

So fire away. Or at least let me know my blog stinks so I can mask it with some after shave and deo next time.

If anyone might be so nice to give me some tricks besides photo's to spice up my blog with Bolds and Italics and underlines it would be greatly appreciated.

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Photo credits: Frenk And Danielle Kaufmann.

Your post must be written in English

August 17, 2007


Your welcome and thanks for reading shuttermammie

August 16, 2007


Thanks for sharing your thoughts and ideas. Very interesting to read all parts.

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