Studio photography has always been one of those hit or miss things for me in terms of creative outlets. I have always preferred on-location, where the whole team can feed off of the energy of the environment and combining natural ambient light with monolight fill and reflectors… it can be just perfect. Sure, in a studio you have a blank canvas but unless everything comes together perfectly the end result is usually less appealing to me then location work. Of course the challenge with location shoots is the logistics headaches, trying to find new areas that match your vision, getting things approved, paying fees, scheduling, working around ideal daylight, etc. This is especially challenging if you need to use a setting repeatedly.
Here is where the Savage Floor Drops are hugely convenient. In Arizona, its difficult to find cool old worn brick or wood buildings to work around and having a portable backdrop to use whenever needed and in a controlled setting to replicate that sort of feel is hugely beneficial. Especially with the growing trend of shooting products in a more lifestyle setting, the floor drops make it easy to create popular shabby chic type feel with the wood and brick patterns but without the headaches of working around a location. I really wish I had come across these earlier in my career.
In past shoots we’ve had to create settings or scout locations to get a lifestyle type of feel and get those warm natural type patterns in the background. The added color reference and natural textures and perception of depth and separation from subject and background can add so much more dimension over a traditional studio backdrop paper or muslin. With creative use of lighting you can really exaggerate that more to fake a location shoot – you’ll see a variety of applications in the photos.
The Savage Floor Drops are a heavy weight rubber with the printed side having a felt-like finish. The ones we are using here are 8′x8′ because we needed the extra width and height to shoot full length. The 5′x7′ versions would probably be a little easier to work with for travel and setup if you are only doing 3/4 length and headshots. They are extremely durable and roll up nicely for storage – I opted to get some wide heavy duty velcro straps to keep mine rolled up well for storage. If you unroll them and let them sit flat for a while before use they rest nice and flat without curling. If you cannot wait, if you roll them back in the opposite way it was stored it will help flatten them out. The biggest challenge is figuring a way to hang them as back drops – tall ceilings help. The added weight and rigidity and trying to keep the patterns flat and not pinched or buckled can be challenging – I recommend having an assistant to help. Its easy enough to hang them on typical backdrop stands but getting it to sit flat and make a nice realistic seam between floor and wall will take practice. I used heavy weight squeeze clamps along the top side and gaffers tape along the sides to hold it against the wall. If you are shooting your subject at an angle to the backdrop its crucial that its flat when working with the brick and wood because the lines may not look straight otherwise. Shooting more directly square to the backdrop will minimize some of those concerns. With industrial grunge this is really a non issue because there are no linear patterns.
A shot of us in studio…
Floor Drops in Action…
For this shoot we were working with the Savage Floor Drops in the 8′x8′ size in Worn Planks, Aged Brick, and Industrial Grunge designs. We used a mix of all different designs as both floor coverings and backdrops to create different scenes. Our first set was a more vintage inspired casual look and using the Aged Brick as a backdrop and worn planks as a floor drop worked great to achieve that look. Our second look was more dramatic formal high fashion kinda thing so we switched it up and used the Worn Planks as the backdrop and Industrial Grunge as floor drops. For our final set we reversed it and focused on mostly 3/4 length and close headshots.
Throughout the shoot I did a mix of moderate depth of field (F8, F11) to keep some of the background more in focus for the wider shots, and a lot of the 3/4 and close headshots shot at wider apertures (around F2) to see how the patterns would respond. In my opinion the Industrial Grunge is best suited for black and white and thrown out of focus – it adds interest and texture behind the subject but in full color can be a little distracting for wide shots. The brick and wood patterns are much more flexible for full length in terms of creating a realistic scene.
See photos below and captions for different setup combinations…
For more information and additional patterns go to Savage Floor Drops
For the full gallery from this shoot checkout:
Clothing: Amelia Walsh
Makeup & Hair: Double Take Artistry, Kindra Oshrin MUA