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Photography Question 
Holly K. Henkels

Oversize Backdrops

I have been shooting a lot of dance/school groups lately, and I need a larger backdrop. Currently, I'm running with a 10x10. I need to fit 22-30 people. Where are the best places to buy larger backdrops (like 20 ft wide)? Or would it be better to buy two identical smaller backdrops to get the length I need.

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12/8/2007 9:25:27 PM

Debby A. Tabb
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/4/2004
  You can make these out of painter's Muslin found in most hardware stores and paint stores. Or just buy a few and piece together.
I hope this helps,

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12/9/2007 9:32:17 AM

Oliver Anderson
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/16/2004
  I've got the 20ft in black and white...they're expensive...they're at the studio and I'm home but I think they're from Calumet...if not I'll let you know for sure on Monday.

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12/9/2007 5:25:10 PM

Bruce A. Dart   Holly,
Making a background is "iffy" at best. You generally don't have the correct dyes and you need a lot of space to work in. Buying backgrounds is a better option and unless you buy a "scenic" one they are relatively inexpensive. The cost of the fabric is most of the cost and the hassle you go through working with wet cloth that size is not worth the difference in price. Been there, done that. You can get a nice background 10x20 from my friend Dennis Cole and and he will ship it right to you. when I photograph dance schools and groups that I need the extra space, I use two 10x20 backgrounds and have picked them up on sale around $99 each. Hang one horizontally and put the other on the floor. Two similar backgrounds work or one that goes with the floor. This gives you a 20x20 working area but with large groups this can run off the background at times. Fortunately, you can digitally extend the background if needed but not on all shots. I have done many of these in 28 years of business. Get a generic background that is not for a specific use and you can use it for several events. God luck.

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12/11/2007 6:24:59 AM

Sekou B. Jones   I have bought several backdrops from They sell on e-Bay as well. I have not yet paid more than $60 (inc. shpping). They have a wide variety and the quality is good. I think they sell backdrops up to 20' or 24' wide.

Best wishes.

Sekou Jones
Jones Photography

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12/11/2007 5:58:07 PM

Curtis L. Edwards
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/12/2003
  This may help. Find a reputable upholstery shop or canvas shop. They are set up to handle the large sizes of fabrics and would also have a better chance at keeping pictured background ( streetscape, forest, crowd,Ö) from looking out of sync along the seam. Also they have the ability to make these changes so that you can take them apart (Velcro, snaps). Generally the rates for just sewing are not that high.

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12/11/2007 5:59:42 PM

W.    Any special reason this/these photo(s) need to be taken in your studio? How about in their "natural habitat"? Like in THEIR studio. Or in a theater, on a stage? With theatrical lights to add to the atmosphere. I would think a theater/stage would have a choice of backdrops! BIIIIG ones!

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12/12/2007 10:23:08 AM

John H. Siskin
BetterPhoto Member
John's Photo Courses:
4-Week Short Course: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting
  Hi Holly,
I havenít needed a background as large as you need, but I do have some information on using and lighting backgrounds here at BetterPhoto: I hope the information is of some use.
Thanks, John Siskin

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12/12/2007 12:19:17 PM

Holly K. Henkels   Thank you for all of your answers, I think I'm going to try bruce's idea. and thank you John for the article link, I found it very useful. Natural Setting wasn't an option, since winter is here.

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12/12/2007 2:28:54 PM

Bruce A. Dart   Hi Holly,
Many backgrounds and many companies will work of course. If I can help further, feel free to contact me at While I do not have a Better Photo gallery, I do have images at Several of the large family groups in that gallery have been photographed on location with two backgrounds in the manner I mentioned. The real key is, that you cannot tell!! Good luck.

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12/12/2007 3:00:39 PM


FYI: dancers "in their natural habitat" means: in their studio. In the place where they usually work out. Where they practice. Or, if you will, on stage, where they perform.
It doesn't mean upto their thighs in the snow...

Good luck!

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12/12/2007 7:08:39 PM

Holly K. Henkels   Mr. Smith,

I'm sorry, you are right. I live in a small town so they don't actually have a studio(so studio never came to mind when I read your answer). Right now they are in the school gym....not a very scenic place for a dancer. Thank you for your advice.

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12/12/2007 7:53:25 PM

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