Whether your subject is a fidgety toddler or a teen filled with anticipation for his or her senior portrait session, you want to pamper them and make them the stars of the shoot. Even the most photogenic of subjects can benefit from an elegant backdrop or fun photographic prop. If you're in the market for "props or drops" to add context and color to your portraits, read on. SP&D presents some of the latest innovations in muslin, balustrade corners, and canvas, along with some enthusiastic user feedback.
American Photographic Resources
If you're on the lookout for a well-rounded catalog of photographic props and backgrounds, American Photographic Resources is an ideal place to start your search. The company's selection ranges from baby props (perfect for Junior's first official sitting) and senior pieces, such as numbers and columns to fine-furniture accessories for family and executive portraiture.
Backgrounds by David Maheu
You'll flip for these innovative backgrounds—literally. Backgrounds by Maheu has designed several new two-ended contemporary backgrounds, with two different styles painted on each end. When you turn the background around, you'll get a completely different look. Each style can be custom-designed with two styles that complement each other (designs are viewable on the website).
Looking for a cost-effective replacement for seamless paper? BSR Manufacturing has released FeatherWhite Ultra, a tearproof, dirt-repellant backdrop, that's specifically designed for high-end photographic applications. The product matches the lighting characteristics of paper, and was created to be used with existing backdrop equipment, making the switch to FeatherWhite Ultra virtually seamless.
Continually striving to stay at the forefront of the backgrounds and props arena, Denny Manufacturing utilizes cutting-edge technology to create backgrounds for portraits that fit with current trends and colors used by today's leading decorators, including Denny's innovative double-sided Scenic Design props.
Grand Manner Studio
The Grand Manner Studio produces distinctive backgrounds in either custom or stock varieties. World-renowned artists Lynn Sanders (formerly known as The Background Lady) and Cherif Fortin put their talents to work for professional photographers, providing specialty backdrops and hand-painting portraiture.
Meese Orbitron Dunne
This La Mirada photo prop developer has introduced a rounded balustrade corner, measuring 30 inches tall with two balusters. The innovative shape enables photographers to set up a continuously running balustrade in a variety of shapes, turns, and configurations. Rotationally molded in a single piece from weatherproof polyethylene, the balustrade mimics the look of heavy stonework, yet is lightweight for easy setup. The balustrade corner is UV-resistant and resistant to bumps, scratches, and scuffs.
"I move these pedestals around in different configurations to spark ideas for new layouts. By experimenting with a variety of heights, I can manipulate the perspective to create unique and intriguing shots. Plus, they're lightweight, so I don't need an assistant to move them. Meese Orbitron Dunne really understands what photographers need in a prop." —Michael Laconti, Lyndsay Michaels Photography, Randolph, NJ
Photographers using Photography Prop's Chimney Prop can choose the brick side or the natural rock side, to achieve their desired look. This durable, 8-pound prop is sized for a single baby or child or for a family setting. It includes three different-sized blocks for interior use and is available separately or with the company's "Santa in Moonlight" backdrop.
Pro Studio Supply
Catch the wave—the Pro Wave Backdrop, that is. This unique bamboo screen by Pro Studio Supply, measuring six feet high by eight feet wide, undulates and curves to create specialized portrait effects. The screens are available in black, red, and blonde. Also new from Pro Studio Supply: Quick Ships, 100 percent cotton dyed muslins that come in 10x10 and 10x20 sizes. These handpainted muslins come in 11 styles, feature a matching carrying bag, and are machine-washable.
"Pro Studio Supply's Pro Wave Backdrops are among the most exciting backdrops I've used. I like that you can wrap the backdrops around your subject to create angles and dimension. I also like their small size, and that they stand independently. The black Pro Wave is good as a light subtractor, and the natural Pro Wave makes for a beautiful warm reflector." — Ken Webb, Thiensville
Savage Paper Products has launched a new line of photographic equipment, Savage Equipment, adding to an extensive line of photographic paper products. Among the innovations in this lineup: background stands, posing sets, and presentation paper products.
"As a busy professional photographer, I look for products that not only help me do my job, but that are easy to use, well-made, and offer me the opportunity to produce the final product—the photograph. I have found these products with Savage. For many years I've used Savage background paper with the Savage Port-a-Stand background holder. Now I have the pleasure of using an assortment of other equipment from Savage, all of which are equally satisfying in terms of quality and consistency." —Longtime Savage customer
For nearly 15 years, Signature Backgrounds has been designing and producing backdrops. The company recently expanded its two-sided muslin backdrop selection. Now the backdrops can feature a solid black on one side and a choice of vibrant designs for the second side. Plus, with Signature's ongoing "buy one, get one half price" promotion, you can add to your backdrop cache without breaking the bank.