Being prepared for all the different photo shoots that come my way is a challenge, just as it is for many photographers. I never know if I’ll be asked to make a portrait of a single person, a family of four, or a pet. On the other hand I’ve been asked to shoot a motorcycle, a small automotive part that measures less than 2 inches square, and a pair of snow skis. Obviously that’s a wide range of sizes and shapes!
Configuring a backdrop system that can accommodate such a list of subjects might seem daunting. Fortunately, Savage Seamless Paper Backdrops make it possible to perfectly fit your backdrop to both your subject matter and shooting style, whether for a product shoot, a head shot, or groups of people.
The beauty of Savage seamless paper goes beyond its ability to render gorgeous backdrops in dozens of different colors. It’s also a photographer’s best friend due to its versatility. Because these paper backgrounds are available in multiple sizes – standard widths of 26″, 53”, 86″ and 107”, and even 140” (in some colors) – you’ll be able to shoot big to small to everything in-between. Also, the relatively low cost of seamless paper means that you don’t need to break the bank for the professional results it can give you.
Which Size Do I Need?
Choosing the appropriate seamless paper size will take some assessment on your part. What is your typical photo shoot? Do you tend to capture head shots, or do you often photograph families – or both? Do you make a habit of shooting small products or large products? How big is your studio? Can it handle a 9-foot-wide backdrop roll? Or do you shoot in a spare bedroom where space is limited?
Answering these questions will help guide your selection, but the good news is that you don’t need to constrain yourself to just the factory-made lengths of paper. More on that in a bit!
For now I want to describe what shooting capabilities each of the various lengths will give you. Just remember that the size of your studio and the loading space of your car or truck will help determine which size paper roll will work best.
Savage’s smallest seamless paper roll (26″ wide) is ideal for crafting, product photography and creative set design. With 65 colors and 36 feet of paper per roll, the creative uses are limitless! Starting at just $18.99 a roll, compiling a few bright colors are ideal for layering backgrounds, cutting out shapes, etc.
The 53” wide seamless paper rolls are perfect for head shots, 3/4 body shots or for 2 people who are intimate such as in wedding or engagement photos. I’ve also used this length for capturing kids, infants, small pets, and small products. It’s compact, easy to transport and easy to set up.
Photo Courtesy of Ryan Walsh, Featuring 53″ x 12yd Gray Tint Seamless Paper
For portraits, you’ll likely be using a fairly tight lens (in the range of about 50mm-200mm for a full-frame camera) to avoid perspective distortion. These focal lengths also work well for the 53” seamless paper as they avoid showing the sides of the roll as you zoom in. Of course you’ll need a certain distance (perhaps 6’-20’) in front of the backdrop to work with these focal lengths, so before buying make sure you have enough space in your studio or shooting area.
This 86″ midsize width is ideal for portrait photographers working in smaller studio spaces who value greater versatility than a 53″ wide background, but are unable to accommodate as large as a 107″ wide backdrop. When working through a cake smash, toddler or pet photo session, unbridled movement and roaming from your energetic little models is not uncommon. Allowing yourself some extra room for your subject to move about while not worrying about how much background you’re going to have to edit in in Photoshop later can be a relief with this 7-foot wide roll. This size also fits nicely into most cars.
Photo Courtesy Ryan Walsh, Featuring 86″ x 12yd Pecan Seamless Paper
At nine feet, the 107″ seamless paper is twice as wide as the shorter 53″ version, making for an impressively wide backdrop. At this size you’ll be able to easily capture full body shots, couples, small groups, larger products and pets, and situations that require movement. Some examples of the latter might include dancers, pets that won’t stay still, small groups or product shoots with motion. You will need a good deal of space in your studio, so take out your measuring tape and confirm that you have the room to hang it beforehand.
Photo Courtesy Ryan Walsh, Featuring 107″ x 12yd Plum Seamless Paper
If you need to go even wider, the four colors that are available in 140″ wide rolls of Savage seamless paper will cover just about anything you can imagine. Large groups, large products, and models requiring plenty of movement can all be shot against this extra wide backdrop. 140″ Wide seamless paper is available in Black, Super White, Tech Green and Storm Gray.
How to Custom Cut Seamless Paper
As I mentioned earlier, you don’t need to stick with the available lengths of seamless paper if they don’t quite fit perfectly into your studio space. If you need an in-between size like a 6 ft or 8 ft roll, the solution is to custom-cut your own length from a longer roll. Many photographers order 107” wide rolls so that they can cut them to a particular size for whatever they are shooting.
It’s easy to cut your own seamless paper roll using a saw and a straight-edge. My preferred method is to use a mitre box, which can be found at hardware stores everywhere. This simple box allows you to place the roll of paper (or anything you wish to saw) inside while also providing a straight-edge against which to place the saw, ensuring an even, straight cut. I’ve used the mitre box and a hacksaw with great results, but other types of saws with fine, sharp teeth would also work.
No matter what you’re photographing, being prepared with the right backdrop will make life much easier. If you need a great-looking, versatile, and budget-friendly backdrop, I recommend Savage Seamless Paper!