For portrait photographers, the best backdrops for photography are an indispensable tool. They allow you to quickly create a clean background against which to place a subject, and many are also easily portable and can be transported from location to location with minimal stress and fuss. Videographers and still-life photographers will also find many uses for their own backdrops, and as such, it pays to run through the options.
There are lots of different types of backdrops designed for different types of users, whether they prefer to work in the studio or head out on location to make use of natural light. Some backdrops are freestanding, meaning you can erect them anywhere there's a reasonably flat surface. Others will require a dedicated stand, usually made of metal, which is sometimes included in the kit and sometimes not, so it's always worth double-checking before you click "Buy". Others, meanwhile, are a little more versatile, and can be hung on a standard curtain rail, which allows you to transform a room in your home into a DIY studio. This is really useful if you're just starting out and don't have the budget yet for your own studio space.
Backdrops come in different sizes and different colours. You might want a nice neutral brown or grey for visual interest, or a completely blank white if you're looking to shoot professional headshots. Other backdrops also come in chromakey green, meaning you can digitally change the background of a scene to whatever you want!
Whatever you need, we should have a photographic backdrop for you. So, let's take a look at the list!
Photographic backdrops can be big, cumbersome things, and that’s what’s so ideal about this Lastolite model – it’s collapsible, and can easily be folded away and transported to your shooting location. The steel frames are securely stitched in place for durability and longevity, and the backdrop is two-sided, giving you multiple options in a pinch (choose from the white/grey version or black/grey version. Made from good-quality fabrics in neutral colors, this is an ideal backdrop for getting the shot in the can quickly and simply, whether you’re shooting portraits, headshots or whatever else.
If you don’t want to spend too much on a backdrop, Neewer’s straightforward photo studio is a solid bet. You’ll need your own stands or a rod on which to hang it, but once that’s sorted you’ll have a solid, well-made neutral background. Choose from a wide range of colors to get the look you’re going for – and it’s cheap enough that you can buy a few and have them on hand for creating different looks at a moment’s notice. Be aware that while you can iron out creases if they do appear, the manufacturer advises caution, and using a steam iron not a dry iron to avoid damage.
Available in a kit with a frame and easy carrying case, the Lastolite EzyFrame Vintage Background is the perfect choice for the photographer who wants something they can carry around and set up with minimal fuss and bother. Its generous surface area of 2x2.3m means you can really squeeze a lot of subjects in there, so it's ideal for photographing large family groups, even those with kids who like to take up plenty of space and want some props to play with. Getting the kit definitely isn't cheap, and there are much more affordable options on this list, so bear that in mind. The kit is available in Olive, Tobacco, Concrete and Smoke, four colours that could also be described as Brown, Brown, Grey and Grey, so you aren't getting a lot of variety. But for portability, convenience and space, this is a terrific choice.
Whatever kind of look you want for your newborn photography, it’s worth having a look at the impressive range of backdrops from KateHome. These microfibre fabric backdrops can be ordered in a generous range of colors, from darker textured looks to something lighter, or even a stylish illustrated look if you want something really different. The fabrics can be washed in a machine or by hand and then are easy to iron, so you can keep them clean and ready for the next job.
Thanks to its highly portable nature and its rigid steel frame that stops it moving in the wind, the Fovitec Collapsible Backdrop is a perfect take-anywhere backdrop and is therefore ideal for quick headshots. No matter where you are, you can quickly use the Fovitec backdrop to get the shot in the can, and it also comes in several double-sided variants, so you can pick and choose which combination of colors you want to have at your disposal. The material is soft but strong, and the steel lining in the frame gives the backdrop its structure and tautness.
With 4m of width, the Panoramic Background Cover from Lastolite more than lives up to its name. If you’re planning on photographing families, sports teams or other larger groups, this will ensure you can keep everyone in the frame without any undesirable background elements poking into the frame – and what’s more, the background is self-standing, so no need to buy an extra frame or set of stands. It’s available in plain white or in Chromakey green, for those who like to add in their own backgrounds digitally.
Give your images a rustic look with the range of floor- and wall-style backdrops from LYWYGG. With various different wood and brick looks to choose from, the range is ideal for party or family photography, and the thin vinyl the backdrops are constructed from is seamless and wrinkle-free – be aware though that the print doesn’t stand up to super-close scrutiny and can look a little pixelated when zoomed in, so this isn’t one for product photography or anything else where you’re likely to be very close to the backdrop. For parties and group shots though, it’s ideal.
You will also need a background stand, such as the Neewer backdrop support system
If you’d like to set up a photobooth at a party or something similar, one of the patterned backdrops from LYWYGG is a great and inexpensive way to do so. There’s a huge choice of preset patterns in different themes and colors, and you can also create a custom look with an image of your choosing simply by getting in touch with the company. It’s made from the same thin vinyl as the wood-look backdrops, meaning it’s wrinkle-free, reflection-free and easy to fold up and transport to your shooting location.
You will need to buy a background stand…
Being able to digitally key in your own backgrounds obviously isn’t a skill that everyone has, but if this is something you’re comfortable doing (or are keen to learn to do) then Lastolite’s simple Chromakey background is a solid buy. It’s built solidly with a sturdy steel frame, but can still be collapsed down in seconds for easy transportation and storage. The material can be safely cleaned in lukewarm water in a standard washing machine, meaning it can be used and reused.
• The best photography lighting kits in 2020: for studio, location and video
• The best light tents for photography
• These are the best flashguns for your camera right now
• Shooting video? We choose the best LED light panels
• Portrait lighting tips: Key lighting and fill lighting photo techniques