Club Backdrops test: brilliant budget backdrops
I love the look of a painted canvas background, with its distressed scruffiness that looks great behind a stylised subject. It’s a style that’s found favour with some of the top portrait photographers in the world, and some of the best publications, too, from Vanity Fair to Harper’s Bazaar.
The thing about canvas backgrounds, however, is their price, which can by eye-wateringly expensive. So I was pleased to discover these backgrounds from Club Backdrops, which are much more satisfyingly priced. I tried out a number of 1×1.5m (3.3×4.9ft) backdrops in the studio, which are a great size for headshot to half-length portraits and can easily be transported on location. At the time of testing, these are available for just £60 each, which is a pretty good deal. Vinyl versions are even more affordable at just £20 for a 60x90cm backdrop and £40 for a 90x120cm size. Three-for-two bundles are also available, making it easy to build up a library of different backgrounds without blowing the budget.
These UK-made backgrounds feel anything but cheap, however. Patterns are printed (as opposed to painted) on heavy 280gsm fabric that doesn’t crease and rolls easy for storage. When shooting, I suspended them from a pair of purpose-built background clips that came with a Manfrotto background stand – other brands are available!
The canvas backgrounds come rolled in a tube but are sufficiently heavyweight not to retain their curve when unpacked; they flatten out pretty much straight away. You can use the cardboard tubes the backgrounds shipped in to store them when they’re not used. Talking of shipping, order from Club Backdrops’ website and you’ll get free one-day shipping on orders of £50.
Of the patterns I tried, I liked the ‘Nola Marsh’ best – it’s distressed enough to provide just enough detail and texture behind a subject, without hogging too much of the attention itself. Unlike the company’s vinyl background, the canvas backgrounds benefit from being lit with a dedicated light, unless your subject is very close to them.
Some of the more marble or concrete textures (Brutal Pink and Cirrus White) are good for flat-lays and product photography, too, and will be ideal for bloggers, vloggers and influencers who need to produce high-quality images for their online presence.
For more information, please visit the Club Backdrops website.