Getting new stuff for your photography adventures is something I’m sure we can all indulge in, be it gear or a new gadget or even the necessary subscription to Adobe Cloud or Capture One. But with the rise of amazing photographers like Sue Bryce using these hand painted backdrops and the amazing work of Oliphant with their hand painted backdrops being used by the likes of Anne Leibovitz, there is this always ongoing question: are they really worth getting, because they can range from a few hundred to a few thousands and … well … it’s just a backdrop right?
First of all I want to address the elephant in the room: I am a brand ambassador for the following backdrop company - Fine Art Backdrops - I’m going to talk about and share my experiences over; but in the same sentence I want to address the fact I would néver become a brand ambassador if I’m not convinced by the products. I am aware my words may be an influence and I want nothing more to share my honest experiences and feedback even if I have ties with a company. This is one of those: I do réally love their work and I honestly stand behind them (and currently am saving up to buy with my own cash too eventually).
- Are those “hand painted canvas backdrops worth it?”
Y-E-S . I cannot stress enough what an eye-opening experience this has been to have been able to work with these backdrops on set, creating everything in camera rather than post-processing it all in Photoshop in the processing phase. While I adore both techniques and I will continue mixing it, they offer a new visual experience and look that is impossible to recreate in camera. Very similar to how analogue vs digital film feels, both are amazing yet it’s both it’s complete own aesthetic.
As mentioned, my backdrops are from Fine Art Backdrops - an US based company. While we have been talking about new backdrops over time, for now I “just” had the pleasure to work with two of them she had in stock: one is a gorgeous sepia called “Tobacco” and the other is a green/brown called “Olive” . They’re both from the smaller catalogue as I have a small studio and I wanted something easy to transport if necessary for clients.
The reason I picked those two was because I love to use a brown for my painterly work (hence my choice for “Tobacco”) and I knew I could easily play around with the green one “Olive” for anything more colorfull or the opposite: I could easily remove the color to become more grey.
There is just something absolutely gorgeous of having hand painted backdrops as well: they give a depth and dimension to my images I didn’t had before and was looking for. Becoming more real and at the same time, more mysterious and elegant. When we compare this to digitally adding it, which has a more illustrative look and feels more artificial and modern - they both have a very distinctive feel to it.
I highly recommend any photographer to get one, maybe two. It’s amazing for pretty much anything with a subject, even some jewelry photography for example! Think portraits, maternity, fashion, product, pets, ….
If you’re looking for a backdrop, I can highly recommend Fine Art Backdrops. But if you’re looking for more EU based I also had the pleasure of working with Gravity Backdrops once. For the rest I don’t have first hand experiences, but there are plenty of options out there and many of sources on how to paint these yourself too actually (and I might actually do that one day).
Recent examples featuring two backdrops from Fine Art Backdrops (Tobacco & Olive Green) - most of this has been shot in the studio for my series “The Lost Royals” with one example (far right) being a mix of natural and artificial light. Some of these had more or less processing done color wise, so it’s good to keep in mind that option of versatility
Some work where I digitally added textures to complete the overall look.
Some of these textures are from PRO EDU - others have come from various free sources onlin.