Cotton Muslins VS Paper Backdrops
Published 15th May 2015
Today, I will cover the basic points when choosing what backdrop to shoot with. Of course, each both have its strengths and weaknesses.
Let’s start with the cotton muslin. Firstly, they can be folded down to a very compact and manageable size, perfect for transporting on location shoots and for storage. In saying this, folding also creates creases. So you’ll need to iron them out. The great thing about muslins is that they are cotton, so you can easily throw them in the wash, which makes them reusable, durable & very easy to clean. Depending on how you look after the muslin, you can get a lot of mileage out of it.
You can also get a really good textured result. Maintenance wise, it can be a little on the “high” side – not everyone has the time to unfold & iron these bad boys out. Photographers are busy people! Another great thing about cotton muslins are the variety, you can get them in many different sizes, colours & designs. A favourite here is the mottled grey cotton muslin, great for portraiture – the cloud effect makes your subject pop – as the neutral colours pair well with complexions.
Paper backdrops. Very popular with fashion and portraiture photographers, they offer a beautiful seamless finish. Pull them all the way to the floor to make an infinity sweep, perfect for full body shots. Given the correct lighting & shooting modes, you can easily achieve a shadowless, even, crisp & clean image. This is almost impossible against let’s say, a wall or floor, as you won’t be able to maintain a uniformed consistency.
The disposable factor. Have a dent? A wrinkle? A bit of dirt? Just pull it down & tear. You’ll have a fresh, clean & perfect backdrop in a matter of seconds. Depending on the maintenance, you can usually get a fair amount of shoots in before you have to replace it. In the long run, the cost of the backdrop is extremely feasible. These paper backdrops usually weigh approx. 6kg, so unlike the muslins, they can be a bit of a pain to transport. We tend to find that photographers who buy paper backdrops, are more studio based. They are easy to mount, store & roll up.
Lastly one of the greatest things about shooting with a paper backdrop is post production. Spend less time editing out wrinkles and imperfections from the background – this is always a positive!
When it comes down to the crunch, the choice will ultimately come down to your personal preference and shooting style.