Tips on How to Light a Backdrop: What You Need to Know

studio displaying portrait photography lighting techniquesLighting can make or break your photos. There’s nothing worse than looking at a photoshoot and noticing that the lighting wasn’t quite right! There are a variety of techniques when lighting your space. Here are a few tips on how to light a backdrop.

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portrait with white backgroundShooting on a White Backdrop

A crisp, white background when shooting portraits is a classic. First, you’ll need the backdrop. If you can’t afford a heavy duty professional backdrop, head to the fabric store and get a heavy material so it won’t wrinkle. To get a seamless background, the background has to start out as seamless!

After you have your backdrop in place, have your subject stand far enough away so that you can light both separately. You will want them to be about 9 inches away. Then, flood the backdrop with light. The lights pointed at the backdrop should be at least 3 stops higher than the lights on your subject. As for your subject, you should use one main light. We suggest a softbox or a flash. Take a few test shots to see the contrast. If your subject seems washed out, the background lights are too bright.

portrait on black backgroundShooting on a Black Backdrop

If you’re looking for some drama in your portrait, a black background is for you. Making the lighting on your dark backdrop three stops darker than the subject will make it appear completely black. Your subject should be at least three feet in front of the backdrop. Pro tip: This trick should work with any dark color background. Even if it is gray or navy, it should still appear black.

Using a Spray Light

A spray light is an easy way to add an extra element to your portraits. Instead of having a spray light exampleboring, blank background on your headshots, play with the light. Using a spray light adds something like a halo and can be the missing piece to the perfect portrait. To do so, all you have to do is point a light close to the wall or backdrop. The light reflects out onto the wall; the closer the light, the smaller the “halo.” However, we recommend keeping it far enough away so that the heat of the bulb does not damage your backdrop.

Consider a Single Light

single light illuminationIf you would like to get creative with your portraits, consider using just a single light and see what happens. Focusing light onto just one part of your subject creates shadows; it’s the perfect way to get a dramatic portrait. Move the light to different positions to illuminate different parts of the face. Sometimes, a single light is all you need to capture the drama.

Edit with Perfectly Clear

Now that you know how to light a backdrop, it’s time to take some photos! Then, it is time to edit. We know that editing can get tedious; going through and touching up every single portrait can take hours. Perfectly Clear’s batch processing is here to help! Our software works as a plug-in or stand-alone application. Put your photos in and let our expert algorithm use up to 40 corrections on each photo in just minutes. You’ll be amazed at how much time you save! Try it for free today