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SPD's Guide to Backdrops & Props

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When adding backdrops and props to your photographs, there's a fine line between enhancing and cluttering the image. It all depends upon the mood of the items and how well they relate to your subject, lighting, and composition. When chosen well, a backdrop often becomes the "canvas" on which you create all other aspects of your photograph. There's a wide variety of backgrounds, in a myriad of materials—canvas, muslin, vinyl, paper—and styles—classic, Old Master, modern, abstracts, and scenics—from which to make your selection. Same goes for props. From commercial shoots to portraits and weddings, there's a bounty of props to enhance every subject. SP&D has found some of the most popular traditional and modern backdrops and props in the marketplace. Take a look . . .

APR/© Little Rascals Backdrop Outlet/©Art Ketchum Backgrounds by Cole/© Cindy Baxter Bkgrds by Maheu/© Joseph & Louise Simone Barnes Portrait Clothing/ © Guy Barnes Denny Mfg. Co./© Bill Abbey Etcetera/ © Photography by Jennifer Les Brandt/ © Vicki, VGallery F.J. Westcott/© Eric R. Eggly, PointSeven Studios Say Cheese/ © James Finklea, Isaiha Studios Studio Dynamics/ © Tiger Mountain Photography Wicker By Design/ © Vicki Popwell

American Photographic Resources
American Photographic Resources offers a wide variety of props that will accent any subject. The company's selections for photographing babies and toddlers includes the Baby Tub, with claw feet; Air Knight Airplane; and Small Teakwood Bench, in whitewash and stain finishes.

Artistic Backgrounds
Artistic Backgrounds is now offering a line of elegant tapestries. The tapestriesin scenic and old world stylesadd a classy look to your photographs. The company has also added designs to their traditional, scenic, soft florals, and abstracts in muslin and canvas.

Backdrop Outlet
Backdrop Outlet introduced six Abstract muslins that feature contemporary patterns, to add a new dimension to your photography. They've also introduced Mottled Fantasy Cloth in 40 colors. The Mottled Fantasy Cloth can be used alone as a background, layered, or as an accent. The cloths look like muslin, but weigh less than 2 pounds.

Backgrounds by Cole
Backgrounds by Cole specializes in custom scenic backgrounds. They also offer a complete line of Old Master and scatter-style backgrounds. The company's sheer draping material is another popular material choice.

Backgrounds by Maheu
Backgrounds by Maheu has added a line of Signature Design Backgrounds. Painted in the style of a Fine Art Renaissance painting, they are designed to look like an heirloom painting. Also new are contemporary styles that are great for seniors, and a Soft Focus Scenic series.

Barnes Portrait Clothing
Barnes Portrait Clothing introduced their real antique baby scale, complete with charmuse satin heirloom blanket and pillow. The baby scale is a unique alternative to photographing babies in a basket or pillow.

Chicago Canvas & Supply
Want to paint your own muslin or canvas background? Then go to Chicago Canvas & Supply. They offer a range of muslin, canvas, and other materials, as well as dyes and a selection of hardware with which to hang your backgrounds.

Creative Backdrops
According to Creative Backdrops, "Not just any muslin will do, so muslin is all we do." Creative Backdrops offers a variety of two-sided, 100 percent cotton muslin backdrops. The patterns and styles are subtle, fitting with the company's artistic philosophy that "A backdrop should listen and not speak."

Denny Manufacturing Co.
A collection of props is as important as a good selection of backgrounds, and Denny Manufacturing Co. offers a variety of both. Using foreground props on a large muslin background adds dimensionality to your images. Denny's 6'x12' backgrounds are perfect for small children and smaller props; the 10'x18' is better for horizontal portraits and larger groups.

Dreesen photographic
Dreesen Photographic's Group Composer makes the task of posing groups effortless. The Group Composer bench is made of solid oak, covered in a low-key brown fabric with padded armrests. Place subjects on the seat, armrests, or stand behind for natural looking groups.

Etcetera specializes in custom clothing and accessories, including clothing for babies, children, and adults. From single items to full wardrobes, Etcetera has it all. New this year, Old World Santa with coordinating accessories, and little girl's Renaissance ensemble, which make for magical Christmas shoots.

Feather White Multi
Feather White Multi is still a popular alternative to white seamless paper. It looks like seamless, but is virtually tearproof, wipes clean, won't permanently crease, and can be lit with colored gels and cookies for added variety.

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