How To Photograph Real Estate and Vacation Rentals

How to Photograph Background Plates, and Why it's Important

Having options is always a good thing, especially when it can save you from a costly mistake. In this quick tutorial, Jay P. Morgan from The Slanted Lens shows us the importance of shooting background plates to give yourself options in post production and help speed up your workflow. 

What is a photographic plate you may ask? Well, it's just an extra frame that you shoot without your subject to give yourself some extra background options to composite in post production. Granted, you may not have the opportunity to shoot a background plate in every situation, but it's a great habit to get into. In this video, Jay P. shoots a few different background options, in focus, slightly out of focus, and even extremely out of focus. By shooting multiple plates, you can not only remedy a mistake you may have made on set, but you can also give your client multiple options (if you choose to do so). I can sit here all day and explain why I think background plates are important, but why take it from me? Check out the video and let Jay P. explain in detail the importance of background plates. 

[via The Slanted Lens]

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Deleted Account's picture

I so loathe his delivery style.

Brian Dowling's picture

Every time I see him posted, I can only think about the 90s informercial guy...

Simon Patterson's picture

Oh that is perfect! I must admit, I do struggle with being shouted at from my phone or PC screen. Even if the content is great.

Lars Daniel Terkelsen's picture

Yup. Such a pain to watch, and it seems he is only getting worse. :-D (Great content though.)

Pink Ninja's picture

I love him. He is so upbeat and like a breath of fresh air. A real genuine nice guy.

Michael Murphy's picture

This is an awesome idea, I just started doing this myself but not on all my shoots. Time to start doing this faithfully. Smart idea.

Jonathan Barge's picture

Shooting food photography I do this ALL the time, almost every time a client will need more 'background' in the image because after the shoot they decide they like the image so much they want to use it in a totally different way than what was intended. I often shoot landscape shots for website recipes, only to later find out the client also wants to use the image as a portrait image for a poster, or a catalogue/magazine. Shooting a background plate or two really gives me the option to extend the background.

Even adding a little extra bleed area to a photograph can help a designer so much. I have gigabytes of photos of plain backgrounds and literal empty plates now! It's also not uncommon to be asked to put a certain meal onto a different actual plate from another shot so this technique works that way too!

Sam Hood's picture

I work on the artwork side of food packaging and the amount of times a client has been at shoot to organise and approve how they want it to look but then change their minds when it comes to us is unbelievable! Having that extra bleed or plates is a lifesaver!

Jonathan Barge's picture

Totally agree, I do the packaging side of things too – so generally it's saving myself the trouble! I've learnt over the years that it is very hard to find photographers who understand the packaging design side of things enough to allow for things like this. Over many years I've taught myself to do the photography as well to keep all the artwork creation in one studio and to offer full service to clients. It makes a massive difference when you don't have to keep on-top of other photographers to make sure they know exactly what you need.

romain VERNEDE's picture

Yeah , very usefull and arse saving!
last time I did some catalog work I made a plate of the seamless before the model stepped in, it was very time saving in post prod

Michael Murphy's picture

That's the same thing I've been doing always a great idea to have more background then you think you will need just in case you have something pop in the side or corner of the image that you need to take out.