How to Care for Seamless Background Paper
Photography backdrops are standard equipment in every professional studio. Seamless paper backgrounds are popular products for photographers due to their low price, easy setup and convenient storage. Another advantage of using paper backdrops as a studio staple is the reliability and consistency of the colors. It is available in a broad spectrum of colors, hues and shades. It is also ideal for both product and people photography. Following a few simple guidelines will keep your seamless paper clean, damage-free and ready for consistent use.
Seamless paper is core wound in rolls in varying sizes and lengths. Properly storing your rolled paper backgrounds between sessions helps prevent warping and creasing. Store the tube in an upright position located in a dry place, away from direct sunlight.
- Flexible polyurethane holders are available from most photographer supply websites and local stores. Check out the Savage Paper Clip, made specifically for seamless paper and vinyl rolls. These holders are easy to mount on a wall and typically hold six to twelve individual rolls vertically.
- Alternately, some photographers use 4-inch PVC pipe for storage tubes. When you use a fitted end cap on the tube, it provides protection from dust and moisture as well. These tubes are great for transporting your backdrops between locations.
It is not recommended to store your paper background rolls horizontally for long periods of time. The weight of the paper and gravity will cause the roll to begin collapsing onto itself. The effect of this will show up as waves or wrinkles in the paper, which defeats the "seamless" appeal of it. Any creases that form during the compression will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to remove.
Preparation and Setup
Cutting Your Paper
A sharp utility knife is the best tool for cutting strips of paper for single use. Simply slide the knife across the paper horizontally for a clean, straight line. You can use the cutter to trim off torn or soiled edges that were damaged during photo sessions.
Rolling Out Your Paper
If you need to roll out your paper in preparation for a photo session and you do not have someone to assist you, you should use clamps to secure the paper in place and cut slowly. Hang the seamless paper on the background support system, positioned for the session. Using one hand and an angled sweeping motion, start to roll out the paper. Be patient, or you will find the paper unrolls too quickly and pools on the floor. When you have enough paper unrolled for your background, clamp it to prevent further roll-out.
Photo by Ryan Walsh
Taping Your Paper
Traditionally, a seamless background paper roll is supported by a background stand with a horizontal bar so that it can easily be rolled out onto the floor. Taping the end of the roll to the floor will prevent it from moving and crinkling. However, use care when handling the ends of the paper. Regular wear and tear may soil, wrinkle and damage them. When this happens, trim the edge of the roll with a sharp pair of scissors, giving the paper a fresh, clean look.
Avoid using the paper background on carpet or other rough surfaces. Not only will it be difficult to secure the end, it can become damaged from your subjects walking on the uneven surfaces.
Transporting Your Paper
If you have to shoot on location, seamless paper can be transported in the same tube it is shipped in. You may also choose to transport the backdrop in a four-inch diameter section of PVC drain pipe (available at a local plumbing supply store). PVC tubes are sold in ten-inch lengths with tight fitting end caps that will seal the tube.
Though seamless background paper is not as expensive as other backdrops, it is still an investment and costs you money. Protect your investment by taking proper care of your paper backdrops. This will ensure the backdrop lasts and you get the most out of your purchase. If properly cared for and stored, seamless background paper can last years.