Seamless paper is a great way to set up easy and beautiful backgrounds for any photo or video shoot. It’s what most professionals use to create high-quality backdrops.
The photo at the top of this post is an example of a seamless shoot! P.S. This page may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure for more information.
Items to purchase
Impact Background Support System – 12′ Wide – this holds the seamless paper on the top bar
Bessey Steel Spring Clamp (Black, 2 1/4 x 2″) – this will help you clamp down the seamless paper roll as you unfold it to make it as long or as short as you want
Seamless Background Paper – the paper! It comes in different sizes, so make sure you know what size you want
The great part about using seamless paper is two things: you have a variety of color options. And it’s mobile, meaning you can travel with it. That said, depending on the size, the paper does come in long rolls, so if you’re traveling by plane it’s most likely easier to have it shipped to where you need to go.
The best way to set up a seamless shoot is shown in the photo below. You can see on the right is someone sitting down, that is the subject being filmed. The paper is hanging on a bar behind them. Ideally, your subject is not right up against the paper. You want to give some space between the subject and the paper to create depth. You also want to create space between the camera and the subject. So shooting in a tight space gets tricky.
Here’s a quick outline of what you’ll need to do:
- Setup the backdrop stand
- Put the paper roll on the top bar (you may need help depending how large it is), hang the paper so it rolls over and not under
- Make sure you clamp the paper before you hang it up on the bar, then unwrap the paper slowly and reclamp to a desired length
- Tape the paper to the ground or use sandbags
- Optional: Put plexiglass on the floor to protect the paper and to add a slight reflection of light from the floor
- When done, take it down and store the paper vertically
Seamless paper is available in different sizes. So make sure you know what you want. Here are some examples:
- 26 in x 36 ft (approximately 2 ft 2 in x 12 yards) – for photography or videography of small items
- 53 in x 36 ft (approximately 4 ft 5 in x 12 yards) – for headshots and partial body shots
- 86 in x 36 ft (approximately 7ft 2 in x 12 yards) – this is what I usually use, the midsized 86″ seamless paper for small to medium spaces
- 107 in x 36 ft (approximately 8 ft 11 in x 12 yards) – for full body portraits and larger groups
- 107 in x 150 ft (approximately 8 ft 11 in x 50 yards) – for a larger studio
Lighting is huge for seamless shoots. I always try to use three to four lights. My favorite setup is using two lights at the front – one from each side of the person – and angled on the person’s face. And then I add a backlight behind them from the side.
The fourth light, and the most magical light for seamless in my opinion, is using one on the floor if you can. Place it behind your subject at the middle of the shot and on the floor. Direct it at the seamless paper, so it’s facing the paper itself. This only works if you’re choosing not to see your subject’s feet because the light will be in the shot.
Then play with the light to make it as bright as you want. It will start to create a centered halo effect around your character on the paper background. The main picture at the top of this post is using the bottom bounce light. And you can tell by seeing how the center of the blue is lighter than the surrounding frame.
Now you know how to set up and use seamless paper! It might seem a little like a hassle, but trust me, it’s worth it.