Lastolite Collapsible Backdrops

Those of you who follow my blog and twitter feed, see me using Lastolite Collapsible Backdrops on the majority of my Portrait Sittings. As a travelling portraitist, collapsible backgrounds are a quick and easy solution. They take seconds to set up and to pack away making them equally convenient to set up in offices & clients’ homes.

Harry Groener Rory Lewis Photographer
Harry Groener Rory Lewis Photographer

I enjoy shooting portraits with the collapsible backdrops. As a one man band, I can easily accomplish background set-ups by myself since they fold and unfold like a giant reflector. They are easy to carry on public transport, which is a blessing. The majority of my sittings take place in London and I’m a regular traveller on the London Underground. Also carrying them across the Atlantic to Los Angeles, they are easy to stow in a large suitcase.

As well as single sided backdrops, Lastolite offer reversible backdrops giving you more options. The backdrops I most frequently use are the Black/White, White/Light Grey. I also utilise the dyed/muslin backdrops Wyoming/Mississippi and Virginia/Kentucky. Muslin backdrops give you a choice of colours and patterns.

Left (Virginia Dyed) Capt Reilly Royal Irish Regiment, Right (Wyoming Dyed) Actor Brent Spiner
Left (Virginia Dyed) Capt Reilly Royal Irish Regiment, Right (Wyoming Dyed) Actor Brent Spiner

What are dyed/muslin backdrops you may ask; well they date back to the 17th century. They were mostly used in dressmaking back then, as it’s a breathable fabric that drapes nicely. But it also holds dye and paint very well, which moved it into the world of theatre, and, eventually, photography. I know what you are thinking, your mind is going back to your days at school, when the school photographer would capture your portrait against an awful dyed backdrop. I thought the same thing, but after looking at the work of the portrait artists of old, muslins were widely used. Utilising the right lighting and mood these backdrops can help unleash your creativity.

Lastolite Black/White Left Actress Helen Bench, Right Actor William Shatner
Lastolite Black/White Left Actress Helen Bench, Right Actor William Shatner

I mostly use the Black/White Collapsible, I love shooting on black so much and this makes my life very easy. The black is especially handy for when I want a completely dark background that has no light reflection. Most of the locations I shoot in are not ideal, sometimes there is a little too much daylight I can’t block out! I find the backdrop absorbs light from the strobe far better than seamless backdrop paper which in my experience seems to catch the light.

Lastolite Urban BackdropsLastolite also offer a selection of urban backgrounds bringing the outdoor look, indoors – with a wide selection available. Urban backgrounds help to save time and costs especially when you’re trying to find the right location for your portrait photoshoot. (Left Lastolite Urban Collapsible 1.5 x 2.1m Tarnished Metal/Container) The uncontrollable weather and the risk of distractions in the background no longer present challenges. Whether in a studio, or a client’s home, you can create the outdoor look in any location. In conclusion, I couldn’t imagine going back to the days of carrying rolls of seamless backdrop paper around, or hunting for a suitable location and praying for good weather.

It is also worth mentioning if you are going to invest in a Lastolite Collapsible backdrop system. Make sure you purchase the Magnetic Background Support Kit. This kit enables photographers to quickly and easily attach any collapsible background with a steel rim to a traditional lighting stand. The background can be attached to the support at a comfortable height. It is also quick and easy to switch backgrounds; simply pull one off and snap another on.



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