Vinyl Backdrops for Photographers: Everything There Is to Know
August 4, 2021
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Photography backdrops are essential to a photographer's work. From photo sessions to product photography - they can be used in an infinite number of ways, and vinyl backdrops are one of the most versatile!
In this blog post, we will discuss vinyl backdrops for photographers - what they are made from, their benefits, how to use them effectively... you name it!
By the end of this article - you'll learn everything you need to know about vinyl backdrops!
Vinyl is a polymer that is extruded and pressed into different manufacturing products such as vinyl backdrops. Vinyl is also the main element in PVC. Think of it as a version of plastic.
What Is A Vinyl Material Backdrop, And What Does It Do For Photographers
A vinyl backdrop is a vinyl sheet that you can use in a lot of ways as a photographer. A photographer can put it on the ground to make it look like they are outside, or put it on the wall to make it look like they are inside somewhere else. It is used for photography, especially when people want to take portraits or product photos.
They range in thickness, length, and width: the thicker they are, the more expensive they tend to be; some types of vinyl come as long as twenty-four feet! The most common size is twelve by eight feet - this allows enough room on both sides of a person for a photographer to take pictures from.
A vinyl backdrop for a photographer is something they can use in many different ways. For example, vinyl backdrops can be used to make it look like they are outside when there are in fact inside. They can also be used to make it look like there is an indoor setting, or that the photo shoot is taking place somewhere in nature. Vinyl backdrops come in many colors and have varying thicknesses and lengths.
Solid Colors and Printed
Just so you're aware - you have options when it comes to Vinyl (much like paper backdrops). You can get them in solid colors or you can have scenes printed on it. There are many companies on the market that specialize in printing on vinyl material.
Why Should I Use Vinyl Over Another Type Of Backdrop (Like Lightweight Fabric)
There are many reasons why vinyl backdrops are so popular with photographers. The vinyl material is waterproof, light-resistant, and doesn't tear easily so it's easy to transport.
It can also be used as a scene backdrop as well as an outdoor/indoor topper. It doesn't require much effort to put vinyl on the ground, or vinyl sheets up on the wall, where you would like them installed. Vinyl typically comes in a variety of colors and thicknesses. The vinyl material is also very durable for all types of photography.
The biggest reason here is the fact that vinyl is water-proof and 'pretty much' tear-proof. It's a material you can just 'wipe-clean' and doesn't require much maintenance.
Cotton/Muslin/Canvas backdrops, for instance, while you can wash, dry, and steam them - water will completely affect the way they look. Vinyl, on the other hand, you can just wipe the water off (or leave it for a wet effect during your session). Vinyl is perfect for those types of photo sessions or out on location (where it could be humid/fog/mist/rainy).
How You Can Hang A Vinyl Backdrop
Vinyl backdrops typically come with hemmed edges, so they can be hung up. You just need something to hang vinyl on like a backdrop stand or even a door.
There are vinyl stands available to purchase and it's good to know what you'll need before purchasing vinyl. Vinyl floors are also available so that the vinyl backdrop will hold in place and be taut for photography. vinyl floors are perfect for those who want vinyl but would prefer not to hang them up or secure them on a surface with pins.
A photographer will also need a vinyl stand if they don't have one yet. Backdrop stands that support 8' pieces of vinyl are pretty popular because it's an easy height for people of all ages to use without any assistance.
How To Choose The Best Vinyl Backdrop For Your Needs
Before you purchase vinyl backdrops, there are a few different things to consider. The vinyl backdrop will vary in length, width, and thickness.
You'll want to know the size of your space and what type of vinyl backdrop suits it best.
For example, if you're shooting a small group in an indoor studio setting with no need for backdrops on either side - then purchasing two twenty-four-foot vinyls would be excessive (unless you plan on using them outside at some point).
For those who will be using vinyls in outdoor settings, it's important to purchase vinyl that is waterproof and durable. This way the vinyl backdrop can withstand all types of weather (rainstorms, snow storms, wind) without tearing or getting damaged.
Finally, use what you already have! What I mean by this is, if you have a stand that only supports 8' backdrops, purchase an 8' backdrop. There's no need to spend additional money on something you already have. Work with what you have now - and possibly purchase those later.
This comes from the idea that you're purchasing vinyl for the first time. You wouldn't want to invest a lot into something you're using for the first time to find out later that you don't like it or that it doesn't work for you.
The Benefits Of Using A Vinyl Background During Photo Sessions
I know we went over why you should use vinyl over other materials - but here we're going to talk about why you should use it as a photographer!
The benefits of using a vinyl backdrop as a photographer include:
Waterproof vinyl is considerably easier to clean up than fabric, which can often be a nightmare!
Reusable for future photo sessions. While fabric backdrops can be reused -you'll have the fabrics stretching and warping after use. This vinyl background also won't need any ironing or steaming as it's vinyl so, no wrinkles - win-win!
A lot more durable and tear-resistant. The durability of vinyl makes it much easier to keep the background from tearing or getting dirty, which can be really important when on location!
Vinyl backdrops won't need any rinsing off either as they are waterproof - perfect for those rainy days full of outdoor shoots!
Non-porous surface, it won't absorb any odors or liquids. A vinyl backdrop will remain clean and fresh without needing to be washed off after each use!
An added benefit of being lightweight, which can make photo sessions less awkward as there's more flexibility for positioning - perfect if you're on location and don't have an assistant to help with the vinyl.
No need for a lot of storage space as this vinyl backdrop is small enough to transport in your car or even carry around by hand!
You'll Want A Matte Finish
I'm not saying this for everyone - but generally speaking, you'll want a matte finish.
It's simple really - you don't want harsh reflections or color casts in your images or on your subjects. A glossy finish might look nice when viewed with the naked eye - but if you're using flash or powerful continuous lighting setups - you'll be running the risk of harsh reflections and color casts.
Color casts are produced by light bouncing off a reflective surface - while taking the color of that source with it. You'll get a thin (and sometimes large) line of color around your subject in that respective color. This is one reason why a lot of photographers prefer white (or black) as their backdrop color. It's also the main reason I don't use a greenscreen for photography.
Think of the paint on your walls. 'Egg shell'/semi-gloss white is very common because of its 'wet' appearance and how easy it is to clean. This is entirely due to the fact that it's glossy. Matte on the other hand is flat and doesn't reflect much and a bit harder to clean.
With a matte finish vinyl, you can still clean it just as easily as glossy, but you'll get softer and less harsh images as a result.
If you're in a pickle, pulling your subject further away from the backdrop will lessen the severity of color casting.
Brand And Vinyl Backdrops That We Recommend
We use and recommend Savage as a brand for all backdrop materials.
While they're a bit expensive - you won't get much better (especially for Vinyl). They produce backdrops of all major materials (including matte finish). They constantly have exclusive offers on their site and their product always helps to produce a professional image.
If you're thinking of a custom printed backdrop on vinyl - take a look at Uprinting - their staff, online support, and quality are top-notch!
That About Does It!
In this article, we’ve covered the basics of what vinyl is and why it can be a great material for photography backdrops. We’ve also discussed some important considerations when choosing which type to use, as well as how you go about hanging your background up once you have chosen one!
Remember that every photographer has different needs, so make sure you think about what's best for you before making any final decisions. If all else fails and there are still questions or concerns in mind after reading our tips, don't hesitate to reach out. Our team is always here to help with any advice needed on finding the perfect backdrop for any photo session!
We hope you have learned a great deal from our article today. Feel free to leave a comment below with any questions, concerns, or requests. We love hearing from you!
Until next time, stay safe and keep creating!
Are vinyl backdrops good?
Simply put, yes! They're incredibly affordable, versatile, waterproof, tear-resistant, and are great for any type of photo session. This would include studio and on-site sessions/work! You won't go wrong with Vinyl.
Are vinyl backdrops waterproof?
Yes. Vinyl is the main component of PVC - which is plastic. Plastic is non-porous and waterproof. These backdrops are great for on-location work or studio work when you're dealing with water/liquids.
What is the best material for a backdrop?
That depends entirely on the look and feel that you want to achieve in your image. Versatility goes to Vinyl (in our opinion), and can be used for nearly any type of photo shoot. On the other hand, it doesn't produce much in terms of texture... You would then want to look into canvas, muslin, microfiber, etc. You would need to know what you want the backdrop to do to your image.
Are vinyl backdrops reflective?
They can be. From our experience, we have found that cheaper vinyl backdrops are somewhat glossy and have a reflective surface (think of 'egg shell' paint for your walls). To alleviate this problem, there are manufacturers like Savage that produce matte finish vinyl backdrops. You'll have a softer, less harsh image, as a result of using it.