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Friday, March 22, 2013

The Background, pt 3

What makes a good background?
What should you look for when making or purchasing one?
How do you select the right colors to highlight your product?

I think we can agree that the best backgrounds are or should be...
  1. Not distracting 
  2. Easy to find and work with - requiring little to no maintenance, such as ironing or steaming.
  3. Fit both the smallest and largest product you have.
  4. Store easily and conveniently until needed.
What makes something a good choice for your background?

I feel your background should to one of two things.. if not both.
  1. Provide a solid and consistent look to your shop regardless of product style or colors. 
  2. Reflect the style, look, and branding of your shop
  3. Showcase your product!
Once you know what your vision is for your shop, and you know what products you will carry, what size they will be you can start selecting a background that will work for them. I suggest everyone start with one background, and if you want to increase later as your skills grow then do so! By starting with one, you can focus on recreating the same consistent look over and over again.. consistency!

What should you look for when making or purchasing one?

If you are purchasing a professional muslin or photography backdrop, like from my shop or other online retailers look for...
1. How does it hang or attach? Can you use clips, or a bar to hang drape it over your shooting area? This one shows tabs that would hang from a pole, such as a curtain rod, or dowel.
2. What size is it? You want a background to easily offer 6 or more inches to all sides of your product... so if your using it as a drape from a wall it should hang with 6 inches of clearance above your product. Not just your product height plus six inches... but enough to cover space behind, height and space in front along your shooting table.

3. What is it made out of? Will it reflect light, absorb light? Is it shiny or flat? I can not tell you what is the best for you, because ultimately it depends on what your shooting, and with what equipment. However, like I pointed out in part two, shooting on reflective surfaces is not for the beginner, it requires skill, attention to detail, and some additional equipment to make it all work out.

4. Are you purchasing cloth or paper? If cloth - what kind? Is it dual sided or backed in any way? Is it thick? Can you see through it? I would stay away from any kind of reflective cloth such as silks and satins as a good rule of thumb.

In addition, I would look for something that is easy to care for and can be folded or stored easily. If you are searching to make your own, and poster board doesn't fit your needs I would look into solid curtains like from your local resale shop. Many of them have thick enough fabrics, or a backing already on them. Sheets tend to be to thin, although cotton is a good choice. If you can utilize a more natural look try out a painting canvas or muslin from your local hardware store!

How do you select the right colors to highlight your product?

I try to think in opposites and compliments when I am faced with this question. If you are working with a lot of different patterns and colors in your products and want a consistent look then I suggest going with white, black, grey or a neutral tan. Let the product do the talking. When you shoot whites, use black... if your product is black use a white background, the oppisites... or think about doing a grey or natural brown/tan to compliment all of them.
Product Provided by: L.W. Hooks

If you want to create a custom look for your shop, then I suggest creating (or letting me create) a custom backdrop to incorporate your branding colors into a pleasing backdrop that can work with any of your products.These are two backgrounds that I made a few months ago, just to give you some examples. The second is still available at my shop.
Scarf from Old Navy, received during a scarf swap!

Product Provided by: Colletta's Kitchen Sink

If you want a different backdrop for every product and wish to highlight it specifically, then I suggest working off the color wheel / opposites concept.

If your items are yellows, oranges or reds... shoot on blues... the opposite. Or you can work the fashion 3, rule which is finding a background within 3 steps of your product color. If your item is Green you can go to light or medium blue... or lighter green or yellow ( really I would decipher yellow as more of a yellow toned tan then really "yellow"). Below you see two examples of opposites... orange and blue, and red and green.

Product Provided by: Craft Gal Creations

Overall the best advice I can give you if you are not wanting to stick with "safe" white, blacks or neutrals is to find balance. Balance between texture, pattern, size, scale and colors. 

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