Studio Backgrounds

Understanding backgrounds is crucial if you want to succeed in photography.

Backgrounds are the foundation on which we build our photographs. A background can make or break an image, so it’s crucial that you understand how to work with them.

There are a multitude of choices when it comes to backgrounds, both for studio photography and work on location. This photography class covers the main types of backgrounds and features a bonus clip on how to make your own.

In this class:

  • Commonly used materials for backgrounds
  • The most versatile background colours
  • How to change your background colours using lighting modifiers
  • Making your own photography background
  • Portable backgrounds for location work
  • Infinity coves

If you like this class, you may also enjoy Making a Canvas Backdrop.

Questions? Please post them in the comments section below.


  1. Hey Karl!

    Which type of paper do you use/choose for printing the wallpapers you paste on the mdf wooden boards?
    Thank you! 🙂

      1. Hi Karl,

        Thanks for the fast response. At min 8:04 you said: “instead of painting this piece of MDF we’ve actually wallpaper it” and you lifted up the MDF.

        1. Hi Yes, that one hasn’t been painted, that one is an ‘effects’ wallpaper which is a wallpaper with an image already printed on it. You can get these from interior design and decorating shops and source wallpapers with a wood print, concrete print etc etc. This one had a light wood planks effect printed.

  2. I feel as though I ripped you off Karl. I got my moneys worth in the first video I watched Thank you so much AWESOME courses

        1. I have few different gray paper rolls from a mid gray to a dark gray. I mostly use the darker grays but not sure of their name.

  3. One question Karl, technical. Why do all videos seem to fail to stream – they all pause at 0:12, and I have to manually skip the first 12 seconds manually for virtually all videos so far!

    1. Hi Gregg, I’ll pass your comments on to our tech team but we are not having any issues here. Please check your connection speeds and that there are not other people downloading high levels of data at the same time as you. If you are still experiencing problems please email us with your operating system and computer details and we can look into this further.

        1. Hi Gregg
          I am having the same problem and usually refreshing resolves the issue m(stop the video, press refresh icon then try again – you may have to do it a couple of times), otherwise I cannot get past the first 12 seconds until I refresh – it just goes in to a constant loading cycle.

          1. I think it’s the Vimeo issue, sadly. Yes, refreshing helps here too.

      1. I have found the solution.
        Forcing the quality to be 1080p (or higher) before pressing play fixes the issue.

        Don’t know if it’s possible via wordpress+vimeo combination here, but if its so – I’d love a setting that would make that an automatic choice.

        To be fair, watching some of these tutorials in lower than 1080p resolution is quite pointless anyway!

  4. Hey Karl, you may want to move the 12-foot paper a bit to the right as it’s covering the emergency exit.


  5. Karl, I love the fancy lever rolling background system you are using in the studio. I would like to get rid of the hanging chains and I do not really trust the electric drives so this looks like perfect solution.
    However, I was not able to find anything like that on internet. Could you let me know who produces those?

    Thanks a lot for your help.

    Cheers, Tomas

    1. Hi Thomas, this is a Colorama background system which is owned by Manfrotto. It may be under thier Lastolite brand now?

  6. Hi Karl.. I do think the light meter has its use a much as it may not be the best tool for creative work. Where the shoe was introduced to show a different material would require that the light reading is done again for that specific subject in my opinion.

  7. Hi Karl , thanks for your great videos . I want to say that it exist colored papers background bigger , I am buyinf them at Calumet , 2,72m large .

  8. Is Hardboard Wood? What does MDF stand for? I love that infinity cove because, well, it looks like it goes on for infinity.

  9. Caleb

    If you are looking to create a wide canvas backdrop theatre supply companies can be a good place to look and normally supply canvas in extra wide widths.

  10. I’ve found canvas to be far superior to muslin in terms of it’s resistance to wrinkling even though it’s a bit heavier. Another great lesson.

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