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Photographing wallpaper as studio background

Emma Baxter , Oct 23, 2008; 03:51 p.m.

As an alternative to plain backgrounds (black, white hi-key...etc) I would like to use a variety of different wallpapers as backdrops. I have a small home studio with 3 Lumen8 400 lights and I'm just starting out in portraiture - mainly friend's kids whilst I build up the business.

The obvious thing to do is to actually wallpaper a wall, but my trouble is I'd like to have a selection of different backdrops for my portrait work. I was thinking of buying large pieces of Fome-Cor and wallpapering them so that I can lift them in and out easily. Plyboard/Plywood would be too heavy wouldn't it? I'd need it to be at least 2m x 2m and ideally I'd like a stack of different designs leaning up against my studio wall to be able to interchange.

Has anyone ever tried this? Do you think Fome-Cor would support the wallpaper? Am I overlooking any technical lighting difficulties?



Stephen Lewis , Oct 23, 2008; 08:08 p.m.

You certainly could use wallpaper on plywood. Put track gear on top of each piece (like you have for closet sliding doors or patio doors) and several parallel tracks on the ceiling, so you can just slide the desired background into place.

Tonio Lombardi , Oct 24, 2008; 02:57 a.m.

I've been looking into this for quite a while now. I don't know what fome-cor is or how much it costs, but I was planning of using sheets of 3 ply wood and gluing wall paper on the front and back. The problem is I can't find anyone who stocks wall paper here in malta! grr. do you know of anyone who sells it online?

Emma Baxter , Oct 24, 2008; 05:50 a.m.

Plywood would be the best option - certainly for durability. It would be so heavy though but I like the idea of putting it on tracks, very neat. Fome-Cor is just paper backed poly board, that you can spray mount prints onto. You get it in arts and craft shops but to get it in such large pieces would cost a small fortune.

Great Wallpaper stockist is:



Not sure if there is any copyright issue. But I was thinking who is to know that you're not just photographing wallpaper that is in a living room?

Terry Foster , Oct 25, 2008; 02:48 p.m.

What about hanging different fabrics up instead of wallpaper.

Emma Baxter , Oct 26, 2008; 04:52 p.m.

I thought about that, but do you think that it would be difficult to light fabric? Wouldn't the light disappear into the fabric as opposed to bounce off a flat surface like paper? It may sound like a silly question but I'm quite new to studio lighting. Would you suggest lighting fabric with two back lights the same as a white or coloured background? Thanks for your advice.....

Charles Heckel , Oct 28, 2008; 04:36 p.m.

Hmmm. Foamboard is, as you noted, expensive. One alternative that comes to mind is the foam insulation board sold in home centers in 4x8 sheets in thicknesses of 3/4 inch, 1 inch, and 4 inches. The 3/4 is pretty cheap and you could glue two together across the back with wood slats and use that. Urethane foam is picky about the glue it takes, but Walmart sells a special craft glue that works with its soft foam material.

The problem with foamboard is typically that it bows, so you'd prefer a two-way wood slat grid system to keep it flat. Sheet plastic is very stable, which is why it's often used for mounting large prints in galleries, but it costs the earth.

Carli Morgan , Oct 30, 2008; 08:05 p.m.

I use fabric. You have to keep in mind the reflectance, which can affect the way the color appears in the photograph. It is easy to store, easy to hang, inexpensive and the clients eat it up.

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