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Background coloursBackground systems are essential in a studio environment. Professional studios are often equipped with ceiling-mounted chain systems that make changes of colour very convenient. Amateur and smaller studios commonly rely upon a simpler background support system comprising two adjustable tripods and a telescopic crossbar. These are relatively inexpensive, transportable and easy to assemble. Rolls of paper, which are available in various widths and a range of colours, are suspended from the crossbar. Paper can then be unrolled to form a backdrop, and extended across the studio floor. This conceals the line that divides the wall and floor, and provides a uniform and featureless backdrop for the model. More durable fabric backgrounds are also available, and some are self-supporting. However, they are more expensive and difficult to keep relatively crease-free.

A disciplined approach to the use of paper backgrounds in beneficial. Paper rolls are expensive and soon soiled, torn or damaged by outdoor shoes. It is therefore worth ensuring that background paper is laid on a clean, plain surface and hence not excessively marked by the application of pressure. Models and photographers should also remove their shoes and avoid walking on the background wherever possible.

Background supportIn general, subjects should be positioned well in front of a background, perhaps with three of four metres separation. This renders the background detail out of focus and hence removes most concerns about creases, marks or other imperfections in the paper or fabric. More importantly, the separation between model and background should be large enough for the shadows thrown by the model onto the background to be out of the camera's field of view. It is also easier to achieve uniform background lighting when a large separation exists. A couple of background lights can easily be set up close to the studio floor, and directed in cross-over style towards the opposite side of the background area.


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