How to Construct Your Own High-Quality V-Flats for Studio Photography

Who's ready to go to Home Depot and undertake an easy weekend DIY project to improve your studio work? This helpful video will show you how to construct your own v-flats, a highly useful and versatile (and cheap) tool every studio photographer should have.

Coming to you from Felix Kunze, this helpful video will show you the step-by-step process for constructing your own v-flats. If you haven't seen them before, v-flats are just black and white pieces of foamcore taped together so they bend to form a "V" shape (they're aptly named for sure). They're highly useful in studio work, as the black side can be used to flag light or add contrast to a subject, while the white side can be used as a bounce. They can also serve as backdrops quite effectively. They're also light and highly maneuverable. The only reason they stay in the studio is because they blow over easily (when I was in a dance theater, they would often fall over if I simply ran by them too quickly). Nonetheless, if you have a dedicated studio space, having two or three of these around is tremendously helpful. Just a note: the 48" x 96" pieces of foamcore are a good size to use. Give it a try!

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Johnny Rico's picture

Take 2 sheets of 4'x'8 foamcore and lay them flat on the floor to make a 8'x8' square, run a single 2" gaf strip down the entire center seam. Pick up and fold together and lay a single strip of gaf tape down the length of the spine. It takes 1 minute and doesn't fall apart until you destroy it. I've never needed to use spray mount to get gaf tape to stick...

Dan Howell's picture

Agreed. Instructions in that video are needlessly complicating an exceedingly simple operation. The only thing I would add to your instructions is to leave a gap equal to the width of Foamcor (3/8" or 1/2" between the edges that are getting taped to handle being bent in both directions. I tend to select one white/white board and one white/black board to have the ability to use as either reflector or negative reflector. That's as complicated as I get and I have had V-flats that have lasted as long as 8 yrs of heavy use.

Actually I strongly disagree with putting a tape edge on V-flats as I occasionally use them as a quick white wall for catalog shots or in other cases I will spray mount colored seamless to them for a set concept. Making the V-flat some precious instrument is, frankly, preposterous.

Johnny Rico's picture

I will have to try this. I've never thought of folding it the other way. I've always put it taught thinking there would be less sheering force on the gaffers.

Michael Kormos's picture

Really? There is a video tutorial on how to make a V-Flat? What’s next? How to fold a sheet of paper? Some of these how-to’s are really stretching...

Alex Cooke's picture

There's no need to be condescending. Some people aren't as handy as others or may not realize how easy it is to do instead of spending money at a specialty supply.

Michael Kormos's picture

I understand not everyone is a handy man. I was merely questioning the merit of creating a video to assemble such an elementary product as two pieces of foam core held together by a piece of tape. I would only think that any photographer who has graduated to the point of studio shooting on a regular basis would accrue enough experience to know this. Remember, we live in an age of content overload. Not every article (or video) warrants exposure. Just my 2 cents.

Where can you get boards that are black on one side and white on the other? I have done a couple of searches and seem to find boards that are either black or white.

Sennia Kyle's picture

I've found them at different art supply stores, and also here in Seattle our local camera shop has them in the lighting section (granted it's a good sized place with a considerable inventory of rental gear).

Alternatively, if you absolutely cannot find them, I've had luck using either regular white foam core or the cheap insulation boards from Home Depot and just taping black paper to one side and leaving the other side white. I figured it was worth some of a roll of black seamless.

*edited to add: if you use the thicker insulation boards from the hardware store, you can just paint one side black if cutting & taping paper is too much of a pain in the butt. I highly do not recommend painting foam core or thin insulation board though, it will warp every time.

Thanks for the info.

Dan Howell's picture I am fortunate that Set Shop is local to me.

I do not recommend painting any width of Foamcor. I have had far better success with using spray glue (Super 77) seamless colors, black if that is what you are seeking, to white/white Foamcor. If you are going this route i suggest getting a half-roll of seamless (54") roll. For whatever reason, the half-rolls glue flatter and are easier to control.

If you have found both black/black boards as well as white/white boards, you can simply use one of each. Black/white boards are more expensive. I have generally chosen to use a single black/white board and one white/white board and provide as much utility as two black/white boards.

Frankly, this is the kind of information that is more useful than overly elaborate V-flats.