Whether you’re shooting portraits or dipping your toes in product photography, there’s no doubt that you’ll use muslin backdrops at one point. Any experienced photographer knows why they’re such a necessity for most studios, and today we’re going to tell you why.
What Are Backdrops And What Are Muslin Backdrops?
Backdrops are the backgrounds photographers use while taking pictures. One can use them indoors or outdoors, depending on the theme and color scheme of the photos. They’re extremely useful for altering the mood of the pictures, achieving certain lighting, and adding desirable colors or images to the background.
Muslin backdrops are made from muslin — a cotton material of plain weave. Photographers widely use them to create moody lighting or low contrast pictures. They add a natural element to the portraits, making one feel as if the subject is sitting right in front of them. They come in a variety of colors and designs, which makes them an excellent choice for adding variety to portraits.
What Are The Pros Of Using Muslin?
Muslin is a popular choice among photographers because of its versatility, economical price, and ease of storage. There are several reasons why photographers love using muslin as a backdrop. So, are you ready to find out what they are? Let’s dive in!
If you’ve ever used a heavy fabric like velvet as a backdrop, you probably know how hard it is to carry, arrange and store. It’s nearly impossible to work with heavy fabrics outdoors because of the logistics involved. For that reason, photographers love using muslin as a backdrop because it is lightweight and very easy to carry for indoor and outdoor shoots.
They’re also quite portable and can be rolled up like a newspaper which means they’re a great option for shoots outside the studio.
Muslin gives the portrait a very natural effect which makes the viewer feel as if they are immersed in the scene in the portrait. Since muslin absorbs most of the light directed at it and doesn’t reflect much, it is ideal for creating diffuse lighting and adding a soft look to your subject’s face.
Light isn’t the only thing Muslin absorbs. It also absorbs paints to give a beautiful matte effect. Most photographers get handpainted muslin backdrops to capture the effect of the brush strokes. This characteristic sets it apart from materials like vinyl and microfibre because you cannot paint them.
If you’re mindful of the effect you have on the environment or are short on money, muslin might be your best bet for a backdrop. You can reuse it multiple times and even wash it if it gets dirty, and it also doesn’t cost a pretty penny either. So, you can save money and take care of the environment when you use muslin as a backdrop.
You might have trouble reusing paper or vinyl more than a few times because they can wrinkle or tear, leading them to become useless. However, most photographers use muslin because it’s very durable and lasts a long time.
Whether you stretch it with clamps or drape it behind your subject or roll it into a ball, your muslin backdrop will be just fine when you use it again the next day.
What Are The Cons Of Using Muslin?
There aren’t a lot of cons to using this incredibly useful fabric as a backdrop, but photographers still need to be careful with how they store it, how they use it, and how they prepare it to make sure there are no problems while shooting.
So, what are the cons of using muslin as a backdrop? Let’s find out.
Since muslin is made of cotton, it wrinkles very easily. This characteristic of the backdrop can cause problems for photographers who are on a time crunch or those who have multiple shoots in a day because they’ll need to iron it between shoots.
You should also not use a regular iron on the muslin because there’s a high risk of burning the cloth, especially with how big the backdrop is. Most users traditionally opt for steam irons because there’s less of a risk of the muslin burning.
A Little Expensive
Good quality muslin doesn’t come cheap, so, if you’re just starting out, you might need to aim a little lower. However, the durability and usefulness of a muslin backdrop usually more than makes up for its price tag. It’s definitely an investment any serious photographer should make if they want to get good-quality portraits.
Gets Dirty Easily
Muslin can get dirty easily when you take it from place to place for location shoots or even when you’re shooting in the studio. While some people recommend popping the cloth in the washing machine, many manufacturers caution against it as it can bleach the muslin of its beautiful colors or even rip it. In that case, you can use a wet sponge to get the stains out if they’re mild ones. If there are darker stains, consider using some detergent with the sponge.
Muslin is a great fabric for when you want to stock your studio with a versatile, useful, and durable fabric backdrop. It also makes the photos you shoot look flawless and quite natural, which is an added bonus.
All in all, the pros of using muslin as a backdrop far outweigh its cons!