A COVID-19 DIY Project: Quick access to many seamless backdrops
I have been looking to increase my image sales from my headshot sessions. I decided before the COVID-19 crisis that I wanted to develop a portfolio of headshots with colorful backdrops, instead of my standard white and gray. I wanted to have quick access to all my seamless backdrops, so I could transition to new colors and give my clients different looks.
The challenge I faced was that swapping out rolls felt too slow, and I was going to have more than three colors, and my green backdrop is wider than the others. The standard three-roll holders wouldn’t work for me.
There were really two ideas that were my breakthroughs: cut the seamless into sheets and use PVC to keep them suspended and give them a structure to roll over, without creasing them, maybe even messing them up.
Step 1: Cut them in sheets
I cut the seamless backdrops to be about 5 feet long, long enough to do headshots comfortably. This is a game-changer because it eliminated the need to have one structure to go through each seamless roll.
Step 2: Clamp them together
Clamping the pieces of paper together, evenly, was more challenging than I expected. I would recommend lining up two sheets and clamping them together, adding one sheet at a time. I used 5 binder clips to clamp the papers together after I got them lined up. They keep the paper together and keep the papers from sliding through the PVC holder.
Step 3: Create the paper holder
The PVC pipe I had was 10 feet long, and the paper was 53 inches wide, so I cut the PVC into two even pieces (60 inches/5 feet). I then clamped the PVC at each end with 2-inch spring clamps, with the paper inside, with the binder clips right next to the PVC.
Step 4: Hang the paper and holder on a stand with boom arm
I hung the clamped PVC pipes on a sandbagged C-stand with boom arm and made sure it was level. This allows me quickly change the backdrop to whatever the client and/or I want to shoot, giving them white and gray background headshots, with options of blue, yellow, green, orange, green, tan, and red (when it comes in the mail) backgrounds. I’m sure this will lead to more image sales when life gets back to normal.
An update: I wasn’t happy with the weight on the end of the boom arm, so I decided to use a Matthellini clamp, so the weight was centered above the c-stand. I had to cut a hole in the seamless, so the Matthellini clamp did not ruin the backdrops when they were flipped to the back.
When I am able, I will add some sort of rod with a little weight to it to the bottom of the paper backdrops. I will loop the paper around, and staple the rod inside. That will allow me to grab the rod for each piece of paper and easily put it on the other side of the PVC, keeping the paper from rolling on the corners, and the weight of the rod will assist in sliding the background all the way to the other side.
This is a decent COVID-19 project for headshot photographers with a bunch of seamless rolls lying around, and maybe photographers of other niches. I hope it helps!
About the Author
Jon Meadows is a headshot and portrait photographer at High-End Headshots in Washington, D.C. who is also working on the book, art sales, and mentoring streams of revenue in his business. You can find out more about Jon on his website.