Hot Backdrops and Props to Power Your Portraiture

June 26, 2017

By Greg Scoblete

Lastolite Urban Collapsible Background

Love the grit of the big city but not, you know, actual grit? Lastolite’s new Urban-themed collapsible backgrounds are a sanitized alternative. The backdrops are reversible: One side features a “smokey” pattern with a dark vignette while the reverse resembles a concrete surface with an even tone. Easy to transport, this 4.9 x 6.9-foot backdrop collapses to a third of its full size.

Price: $218

Savage Universal Rustic Backdrops

The Rustic backdrop from Savage Universal gives you all the charm of an abandoned building with none of the dank mold and rodent infestation. If you want something a little punchier, you can flip the backdrop to reveal a bright red mottled finish. The 5 x 7-foot backdrop can be wiped clean with a damp cloth and steam-ironed to flatten. It can be purchased alone or as a kit with an 8-foot aluminum stand.

Prices: $190 (standalone backdrop), $235 (with stand)

Backdrops by WHHC: Frenzy

Aptly named with its bursting, slightly out-of-focus color blobs, WHCC’s Frenzy backdrop is printed on 100 percent wrinkle-free polyester fabric, ensuring you won’t fall into a frenzy trying to iron it out—though, not to fret, you can steam away any wrinkles that do pop up. It’s sold in 6 x 8-foot or 10 x 8-foot sizes. For cleaning, this backdrop can be machine-washed (never dry-cleaned) on a cold or gentle cycle, and air dried.

Prices: starting at $175

Photobooth Supply Co. Carat Mermaid

We spotted the Carat Mermaid at WPPI, where visitors were running their fingers across the glittering sequins. You can instantly change the design of this backdrop simply by flipping the reversible 3mm sequins in any pattern you like—there’s nearly an infinite variety of possible streaks and designs you can create on the backdrop (we know, we stood in line waiting to try it out as people endlessly flipped the sequins and traced out finger patterns). One side of the sequins is matte white and the other is reflective gold. The flip side of the backdrop is a white fabric. You can order it in 8- or 8.5-foot heights or 8.6- or 8.10-foot widths. The backdrop features a pair of 4-inch hanging loops to thread it through backdrop stands or curtain rods. The price includes free shipping in the continental U.S.

Price: $275

Drop It Modern Magnolia

The Magnolia print backdrop from Drop It Modern made its debut at WPPI 2017 and promptly caught our eye. The 9 x 9-foot plush fabric has a matte weave. It’s woven with 80 percent acrylic and 20 percent linen, and it has a 4-inch rod pocket on both the top and bottom (a sewn tag tips you off to which side is up). While Drop It Modern recommends professional cleaning for the Magnolia, it can also be machine-washed and steamed to straighten.

Price: $274

Custom Photo Props Furniture

It will be hard for an infant not to relax once they’re kicking back on these vintage furniture pieces. Custom Photo Props’ Ford Vintage Linen Mini Baby Sofa is upholstered in linen and measures in at 19 x 19 x 30 inches. Budding couch potatoes will undoubtedly approve. If you need something less lounge-y, the Diana High Back Vintage Chair measures in with a height of 26 inches, the seat is 11 inches side to side and the total width, including the arms, is 20 inches. Price on both pieces includes shipping in the U.S.

Prices: $240 (chair), $250 (sofa)

Lemondrop Backdrops Birch Log

All the charm of a tree stump with none of the termites, Lemondrop’s synthetic birch log is hollow with a closed end for sitting. It’s hand-painted and built from the mold of a real birch log. The large prop log measures in at 12 x 12 x 10.25 inches. You can also spring for the smaller version at 10 x 10 x 9 inches. Posing logs are also available in synthetic oak.

Prices: $48 (small), $62 (large)

F.J. Westcott Custom Vinyl Backdrops

The distressed wood pattern shown here is available in eight color options in 3.5 x 3.5-foot and 5 x 7-foot sizes. They’re sold in either an art canvas, which is a soft and foldable material, or matte vinyl, which is easier to wipe clean for any planned (or unplanned) spillage. All of Westcott’s custom backdrops are compatible with the company’s X Drop system, which is a 5 x 7-foot collapsible frame ($100)—great for location shoots. They’re also available for the Little Portrait Studio, a modular system for newborn, toddler and youth portraits that’s built around a 42-inch corner frame ($50).

Prices: starting at $30 (matte vinyl)

Photo © Allison Cahoon at Urban Alli Photography

Blueberry Hill “Addie” Strawberry Set

Your newborn will look ripe and ready to pick in this hand-knit pants and hat set. Woven from 100 percent acrylic, your newborn subjects will be warm and comfortable. It’s only sold in a newborn size fit for 0 to 3 months old. As far as care, you’ll need to hand-wash these hand-knit items and then lay them flat to dry.

Price: $56

Denny MFG Nonfiction

Forget late fees and creepy patrons, Denny’s Nonfiction backdrop will create an erudite environment in your studio. The canvas version ships with a wood mounting and Velcro straps. There’s also Freedom Cloth, a wrinkle-free polyester that is washable and dryer-safe (and can be folded or rolled up). A Twist Flex option pops open and folds down. The Twist Flex is printed onto the Freedom Cloth material and attached to a wire frame. Sizes range from 3 x 3 feet to 20 x 10 feet.

Prices: starting at $50

Photo © Jen Rinaldi Photography

Photo Prop Floors and Backdrops

Face it—kids are messy. But with Photo Prop Floors and Backdrop’s vinyl floor drops, a child’s natural propensity for dripping, spilling and splashing can be indulged with reckless abandon. The floor drops are easily wiped clean with soapy water and are available in seven materials. There’s a heavy-weight vinyl-coated canvas available in 52-inch x 8-foot and 61-inch x 8-foot sizes; a lighter vinyl-coated canvas comes in 61-inch x 8-foot sizes. There’s also a heavy poly paper, single- or double-sided fleece (30 x 40 or 60 x 80 inches), sweatshirt material, a wrinkle-free polyester, and a non-skid floor mat or a rubber-backed neoprene (made with anti-microbial and stain-resistant fibers that are machine-washable).

Prices: starting at $129

Background Town by ACI: Royal Garment

While monarchy went out of fashion in the States a few hundred years ago, you can still pamper your royal subjects with Background Town’s Royal Garment backdrop. It’s available in two materials. NewFab is a paper-like, tear-resistant fabric that’s wrinkle-resistant and glare-free. It’s sold in 3.9 x 5- and 5 x 6.8-foot sizes, doesn’t come with rod pockets and is not machine-washable or dryer-safe. If you need those attributes, spring for the UltraCloth, a soft, durable fabric sold in a range of sizes between 6 x 8 and 8 x 20 feet.

Prices: starting at $72

Related: 15 Photo Props and Backdrops to Enhance Your Shoots