We love vinyl backdrops! Perfectly portable, durable and easy to store, they can quickly transform a bland set-up into an evocative and impactful scene. In this post we are going to look at some basics for getting started with vinyl backdrops and some essential tips to help you get the most from your shots.
In this <10 min read you will learn:
- How to unpack your 'drop and prepare it for shooting
- Proper ways to handle vinyl backdrops
- Simple ways you can use your backdrop in a home/studio environment
- Storage tips to keep your backdrop looking great for next time
Unpacking your vinyl backdrop
When you first receive your brand new backdrop, it will be rolled in a tube for shipping. At Club Backdrops we use a sturdy cardboard tri-tube for easy storage (but more on that later!). A common question asked by vinyl first-timers is how to flatten out the rolled curve in their backdrop to prepare for shooting? With more than one answer to this question, we’ll look at a few different options (all super simple!) that will get you straightened out and snapping away ASAP.
1. Roll the backdrop in the opposite direction
When you unroll your backdrop for the first time, the printed design will be on the inside of the curve. Simply roll the backdrop back up, but this time with the grey, unprinted reverse side on the inside of the curve and secure with a piece of masking tape. Put it back into the shipping tube for a few minutes and you should be good to go!
2. Tape or clamp it down
With vinyl ‘drops commonly used on top of flat surfaces such as walls or tabletops, a quick solution to the curve of freshly unrolled vinyl to tape or clamp it to a fixed, flush surface. This works well if you need to use the backdrop immediately. Just remember to use low tack tape such as masking or kraft tape to avoid damaging the print.
3. Just hang out
You can also use trouser hangers or clamps and a rail to hang the backdrop until the curve drops out.
4. Leave on a flat surfaces
If you are in no rush and would like the vinyl to lay perfectly straight, just pop it on a flat surface and eventually it will settle completely flat.
Handling vinyl backdrops
It is important to take care when using vinyl backdrops, as improper handling can cause permanent damage. You should never scrunch or fold them, and avoid contact with hot or sharp items. Vinyl is water-resistant and easy to wipe clean with a soft damp cloth, but it is a printed product so please be gentle. For more details on how to look after your new backdrops, be sure to check out the blog article 5 things never to do with vinyl backdrops.
Using Vinyl Backdrops
You can achieve a range of effects by experimenting with different orientations, such as:
- Behind the subject (as a wall)
- Underneath the subject (as a floor)
- Seamless style
For product and food photography, shooting straight down using a flat-lay approach can create strong images with a graphical feel. This is one of the easiest ways to use a vinyl backdrop: Simply lay it on a smooth, clean floor or table top and secure the edges with low tack tape (like masking or kraft tape). To use your vinyl backdrop as a ‘back wall’ for your images, you can again use tape to secure it to an existing wall or flat vertical surface. We have also found that a collapsible clothes rail provides as an excellent, affordable (and multi-tasking) alternative to a studio backdrop hanging system.
Using Two Backdrops
By using two vinyl backdrops as both the ‘wall’ and ‘floor’ of a scene, you can really experiment with creating different moods and stories. The backdrops can be either:
- The same design
- Complimentary colours and/or textures
- Contrasting designs
Using the same backdrop twice results in an environment that does not distract from the subject while creating subtle, visual depth. Complimentary colours create a cohesive tonal look and contrasting colours and materials make for an eye-catching image.
You can also use your backdrop to create a seamless effect by curving it between a top and bottom surface. This is best achieved using two stable surfaces to minimise movement, and then securing the backdrop with low tack tape at the edges. We find that this technique works best with textures that do not feature straight lines!
Storage & Care Tips for Your Reusable Vinyl Backdrop
When you have finished using your vinyl backdrop you should remove any tape that has been used to fix it in place (as this can settle and lift off the print). Once you have done this, you can either:
- Roll the backdrop up tightly and place back into the packing tube.
- Roll gently and secure with a piece of low tack tape. This method retains less of a curl than if it were rolled tight in the tube.
- Store your backdrop flat in an A0 portfolio case or plan chest.
- Store between two pieces of custom sized foam board (this could even fit under a sofa if you are running short on storage space!)
- For larger collections, a popular hack is to clip them to trouser hangers then arrange them onto a fixed or portable clothing rail. This makes it easy to find the exact backdrop you need quickly. You can see a great example of this on the hacks section of our Instagram page here →