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What’s The Best Backdrop Material For Photography?

what's the best backdrop material for photography

If you’re an amateur photographer or a small business owner who wants to take high-quality, professional photographs for e-commerce, or even just to practice your skills, you may be wondering where to start. One of the most important aspects of photography is the backdrop. A backdrop can help your scene or subject come to life and can make or break your photograph.

But what photo backdrops work best? There isn’t an easy answer to this question, because your backdrop will depend on the type of photos you're trying to achieve. For example, photography of people versus photography of objects like products or food. But there are some qualities that make certain materials better than others! Let's dive in.

The Best Backdrop Material For Photography

Why Is A Backdrop Important For Photography?

best fabric for backdrop photography

The background is what sets the tone for your final image, so an effective background will enhance your photo while also adding to your picture’s story. It does this by offering essential information about the overall setting. 

You should pay as much attention to the background as you do to your subject. After all, the background is an essential component of your photograph, and it's typically what separates an image from a work of art.

Backgrounds should be used to emphasize your subject in a way that makes them stand out without being distracting. 

Types Of Backdrop Materials

Different materials can be used to create a number of interesting backgrounds for almost any shoot or photographic niche. Common non-rigid backdrop materials include fabric, vinyl, and poly paper. There are also rigid options like plastic, real wood, and real marble.

Fabric

Almost any fabric can be used for photography, depending on the mood of the photograph. The most commonly used types are canvas and muslin. 

Although fabric is a good, inexpensive option for photographers, it’s important to remember that it generally requires more maintenance than other materials. It will need to be kept washed, dry, and most importantly, wrinkle-free. If your backdrop is creased, it may distract from, and ruin, your final shot. 

Vinyl

Vinyl backdrops are reasonably durable and can be used as either a flat backdrop for flat lay photos or as a floor drop for large shoots. They're easy to clean with a damp towel, so they're great for cake smashes and messy photo shoots involving people.

Because these backdrops can give off a glare or sheen when photographing dark backdrops, the lighting needs to be adjusted when using vinyl. If this bothers you, fabric, poly paper, or matte plastic may be a safer option for you. Additionally, vinyl backdrops limit the types of shots you can take. They're good for flat lay photos (photos taken from directly overhead), but they're awkward to use upright as a "wall" because they need to mounted to something rigid first.

Poly Paper

Poly Paper is a coated synthetic paper that is sturdy and difficult to rip. It is also a budget-friendly option for photographers. It's a lot lighter than vinyl and some types of fabric like canvas, so it's less expensive to ship and hang. Think: a poster in your teenage bedroom!

Like vinyl, poly paper limits the types of shots you can take. They're good for flat lay photos but they're hard to use upright as a "wall" because they need to be mounted to a rigid substrate using clamps. It can, however, be used as a floor drop by laying it on a hard, flat surface. When utilizing it as a floor drop, you should take care not to scratch or fold it. Poly paper, unlike vinyl, is not recommended for cake smashes since it is difficult to clean. 

Replica Surfaces

best material for backdrop photography

Replica Surfaces are the perfect choice for photographing things you create: food, products, objects, nearly anything you can hold. Each Surface is made from rigid tri-layer PVC material. They are budget-friendly because of their reusability, and unlike vinyl and some poly paper, they are glare-resistant and can't wrinkle. Their rigidity also means they Stand upright using Replica Stands or the Replica Studio (pictured above) so you never have to use clamps. 

Each surface is made to mimic a real material like wood, marble, and slate (among others). They are easy to clean and only need to be wiped down with a damp cloth. They are also great for both indoor and outdoor use because they are fully transportable and can even be slipped into a storage sleeve or carrying case to make setting up your shoot a breeze. 

Replica Surfaces are made to mix and match. So, if you want a realistic high-end kitchen scene, simply choose your favorite tiled pattern to use as your "backsplash". Then, slip one of the gorgeous marble-patterned surfaces underneath your product or recipe to create the illusion of a marble-top kitchen counter. The possibilities are endless.  

Choosing The Right Material

There are plenty of different materials to choose from when it comes to photography. From vinyl to fabric, and even slabs of wood for a more rustic feel. Each material has its pros and cons, but it’s important to remember that none of these materials will work for every project you may want to undertake.

If you want a backdrop that is more versatile, you’ll want to opt for a backdrop that can mimic several different materials. This makes it so much easier when trying to swap out and set up different materials each time you want to dress your scene. 

Similarly, you may need to use different materials for your scene if you are shooting a product for an e-commerce site. Some materials may not work well as surfaces for product photography and can take away from the beauty of your final image if they are too distracting. 

Replica Surfaces allow you to fully control the background in photography and were specifically designed to mimic several materials. The range includes wooden textures, tiles, painted looks, and marble. So whatever scene you want to create, there’s a hyper-realistic backdrop that can make it happen. 

Choosing The Right Backdrop

what material is best for photography backdrop

Once you know which material you want to use, it’s time to choose the finer details of your backdrop. These details include features like the color of your backdrop and the lighting you’ll be using during shooting.

Color

If you’re wondering what color backdrop is best for photography, you’re not alone. Picking a color that makes your subject pop is essential to setting the tone for your shot.

When assessing backdrop options, make sure that the color of your background complements the colors of your subject, rather than detracting from it. This is analogous to taking your model’s skin tone and clothing into account for a portrait shoot.

If you want to photograph a subject that is light blue in color, you may want to try complementing its color with a white background to bring out the subtlety of the gentle blue tones. 

We understand that finding a pure white background is hard, so if you want to know how to get a perfect white background in product photography, we’ve got you covered. 

Replica Surfaces are gorgeous and true to color and won’t turn yellow over time. And with different white options (including an editorial-style Gloss White that let's you create incredible reflections of your scene), you won’t have to look very far. 

If they get dirty, you can simply wipe them clean. Replica’s backgrounds are guaranteed to be a hassle-free way to allow you to achieve the perfect color backdrop every time. 

Lighting

what fabric is best for photography backdrop

Poor lighting can ruin even the best images, and inadequate lighting can detract attention from your overall scene arrangement. Your subject may fade into the background if your lighting is too bright, and without the right lighting, a blurred background will lose its charm. 

When photographing outdoors, try and seek out well-lit situations to avoid both under- and overexposure. You can always use natural window light for softer backdrops when shooting in indoor photography studios.

Have a look at our guide on the best photography backdrops and lighting kits to get going in the right direction.

Conclusion

Photography is hard! Choosing your backdrop shouldn't be. That's why selecting versatile, low-maintenance backdrops that can lay flat or stand upright is important. And that's exactly what Replica Surfaces helps you do: achieve your goals as efficiently as possible!

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