Most of us live and work in spaces which are full of stuff - homes have radiators, windows, bookshelves and so on, while our workspaces are full of desks, windows, files, photocopiers and the like. While all of these things are invaluable in their own way, none of them is likely to enhance a photo in which they feature.
It's for this reason that professional photographers are fond of using backdrops - coloured rolls of vinyl or paper which are suspended behind the subject, giving an uncluttered monochrome background. Here's an example with a vibrant marigold coloured backdrop.
The clear background serves to make the subject more prominent and focus our attention on the face. It's for this reason that firms tend to go for this kind of set-up when getting headshots of their staff, with many feeling that a sombre neutral colour such as grey creates the right kind of professional feel for corporate portraiture.
Many of my customers opt for this kind of background paper when getting a photo taken for their LinkedIn profile. Others opt for more vibrant colour, making for an attention-grabbing and very Instagrammable look, such as this sky blue:
Damson seems to work well as the colour of love, as shown by this couple who I photographed on their wedding day:
It's important to consider the clothes a subject is wearing at a photo shoot, and I often suggest that my customers bring a few alternative outfits, to ensure a wide range of picture types from a one-hour session. It can be effective and eye-catching to have outfits and backdrops that contrast strongly with each other:
For a different effect, I also like to achieve the harmonious look when similarly coloured clothes and backgrounds almost blend in to each other, such as this couple, who I photographed on their wedding anniversary:
I rather like the way the couple's clothes almost replicate the hue and tone of the backdrop, with the man's suit slightly darker than his wife's dress.
Stronger colours of clothing and backdrop can also mirror each other with striking effect:
Here, the similarity between scarf, sweater, lipstick and backdrop complement each other, and help to focus attention on the lady's gaze and smiling eyes.
Green provides a compromise between some of the brighter colours (maroon, marigold and blue) and the more neutral shades of grey.
Patterned backgrounds can work too, such as wallpaper, or, as in this case, an old modesty screen:
As you'll realise having read through this blog, I have a wide range of photographic background papers. They're 2.7 metres wide, and so work for small groups and families, as well as individuals and couples. If you'd like to enquire about arranging a photography portrait session at my studio in Bear Flat in Bath, or if you'd like me to travel to your home or workplace (all the equipment is portable), then do please get in touch.
And if you've enjoyed reading this blog, I'd be delighted if you could like or share it, or if you'd like to leave a comment.