Your subject is ready, lights are in place, film's in the camera. What's missing? Behind the most compelling portrait subject or fanciful commercial product is a background that enhances the image, with props frequently adding to the effect. Classic to contemporary, faux to fantasy, Studio Photography & Design takes a look at the multitude of manufacturers, distributors, and products on the scene.
Joe Procia, owner of The Backgrounders, has
been painting backgrounds for the past 40 years. He began with
window-shade backgrounds, then added canvas and muslin offerings.
Choose from one of his collections and he'll customize it to your
specifications. Or have The Backgrounders create something new,
just for your studio.
Jerry and Gary Small, of Photographic Creations, have been using Joe's backgrounds since 1984. "He is an absolute artist when it comes to background design. We have several backgrounds in different color families to go with whatever our clients are wearing or whatever mood we want to project," explain the Smalls.
Les Brandt, of Les Brandt Backgrounds,
showcases his designs on his website, but he won't sell over the
Net. Les prefers the personalized service he can provide by talking
directly with his photographer clients. His super scenics have to
be seen to be fully appreciated.
Sandy Puc', whose studio, Expressions Photography, considers Les Brandt's backgrounds among of the most spectacular in the industry, says, "They are each a superb work of art and have a life and depth all their own."
Photo Showcase's Terry Larson began painting 20
years ago in her living room. With business booming, she now works
out of a 7,500-foot studio.
Photographer Lisa Jane Murphy, known for her intricate themed images of children, thinks Larson is one of the most talented background artists in the industry. "Her canvases are true works of art and a tremendous inspiration to my photographic art pieces," Murphy says.
Backgrounds by Maheu's David Maheu offers hand-painted muslin and canvas backgrounds. Custom designs can be created from your ideas. From the subtle Pastel Garden and Aspen to the more vibrant Indian Summer and Into The Future, David's creations enhance any photograph. Sweet Meadow and Fantasia are just two of the many scenics offered in canvas and muslin. And the Horizontal Scenics offer the coverage needed for large groups.
Want a background that can hang flat like a canvas, crush and
transport like a muslin, and drape softly like silk? Then a
background from SuperLite Custom Backdrops by
Dianne is all you need. Choose one of the many color
combinations, or Dianne can create your ideal background.
Hasselblad's Tony Corbell has been using SuperLite backgrounds exclusively for four years now. "Almost 100 percent of my work is done on location. In one small duffel bag, I can squeeze three or four backgrounds." They are so light, just a few pieces of tape will hold them to almost any surface, eliminating the need for stands. "I'm always looking for a simple solution to every photographic challenge when working on location. This background eliminates lots of problems, which makes sense for me," adds Corbell.
New Creations-Photo Supply offers Old Master
muslin and canvas backgrounds and modular prop systems. They also
create custom scenic backgrounds—if you come up with a prop
idea, they can build it. New Creations has the baskets, bowls, and
boxes for photographing babies nestled within.
Photographer Robin Spencer appreciates the personalized attention from New Creations: "Tim was able to custom-paint and shape my props exactly the way I needed, and at a great price. New Creations' props and backgrounds worked together to give me a unique system."
Wicker By Design offers a variety of wicker chairs, baskets, loungers, and trellises. New this year are a baby stroller and carriage. Picture a young toddler dressed in his Sunday best, toting one of the new Wicker By Design suitcases, or playfully sitting inside it. These creations compliment the mood of your photographs without distracting from the subject.
FotoWhite clothing for babies, youngsters, and adults give your photos a timeless feel. You won't find anything like them elsewhere. Photographer Rick Reil, who uses the christening gowns and posing pillows for infants, says, "The FotoWhite posing pillow and clothing pays for itself on every sitting. Portrait sales often exceed several hundred dollars and the referrals are tremendous."