I love cool gear. Who doesn’t? But, as I always say, a great photographer isn’t necessarily the person with the fanciest gear. A great photographer is a great problem solver. Chances are, you probably have a lot of really cool portrait and glamour backdrops sitting around your house and you don’t even know it. Here, I am going to show you how create simple glamour set-ups using everyday objects as DIY backgrounds and a simple two and three light setup to create even and flattering light.
I want to show you a few DIY backgrounds that I use from time to time. One is simply a bed comforter that serves triple duty in my studio and the other is an inflatable camping bed.
DIY Background: The Comforter
Let’s start with the comforter. It’s a creme-colored queen-sized comforter that I purchased at a local discount store for less than twenty bucks on a clearance sale. I was excited to get the creme color because it would allow me to cheat when I do my backlighting technique for my black and white boudoir shots. With all the light behind the subject and then exposing for the shadows, having the off-white color to the comforter helps to keep a little detail in the comforter. A white comforter will over-expose and lose the details much faster. Plus, in black and white it looks like a white comforter.
The second thing I use is this inexpensive comforter for is a sound dampener when I am recording my video tutorials for you guys. Hanging it behind the camera helps to eliminate echo from the small studio area.
And third– the point behind this article– I will also use it as a DIY background as you can see in this simple lingerie shot that I did for this young lady’s modeling portfolio.
The shot was made with a 70-200mm f/2.8 zoom lens set at 95mm. The aperture was f/7.1. The shutter speed was 1/200th of a second and the ISO was 100.
I lit the shot with three Paul C Buff AlienBee B800s, which are 320WS strobes. I am using a simple clamshell lighting setup with two medium-sized softboxes from Photoflex. One is placed on the floor aimed up and the other is on a boom arm and aimed down at the model.
The third light with a 30 degree grid is placed on camera left just past the edge of the comforter and aimed just in front of the model. That way only a little light catches the model, creating a subtle rim, and while also avoiding lighting up the background.
I am using a slightly low camera angle so that I am able put the model in a position of power and confidence.
The final image required very little post production beyond the usual color, contrast and sharpening… and of course removing of blemishes.
DIY Background: The blow-up bed
The second shot uses a plastic inflatable bed as a DIY background. Just like the previous shot, the model is standing directly in front of the bed and I am using the same clamshell lighting setup but this time without the rim light.
These two shots were actually done one right after the other.
This shot was also made with an 70-200mm f/2.8 zoom lens set at 95mm. The aperture was f/7.1 The shutter speed was 1/200th of a second and the ISO was 100.
This image also required very little post.
The moral here is that you can use almost anything as a DIY background if you think outside the box.
I’ve used anything from a clam-shaped plastic pool float to a black leather couch as a DIY background. You could use the carpet in your living room….. or the sofa and carpet in your living room…
As always, the possibilities are only limited by your own imagination.
I hope that sparks some ideas for you. Take this idea and run with it! Go create, and show me what you come up with.
Don’t forget, your BEST shot, it’s your next shot! So keep learning, keep thinking and keep shooting – Adios!