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5 Portrait Looks With Just One Background

You don't need a ton of equipment to create a number of looks in a single shoot. In this video, John Gress discusses which background you should go for if you're looking for maximum versatility, showcasing five different looks.

When I began shooting portraits for both commercial and editorial use, I learned a few things quickly and by necessity. The first was that you need to learn how to make boring spaces look interesting and that the answer is almost always lighting. The second was that with said lighting, you can create a plethora of different results. In fact, if you buy wisely, you can have a relatively small arsenal of equipment, but be able to consistently create different images.

So, what sort of background allows for maximum versatility? A mid-gray, untextured backdrop. If you opt for white, it's much harder to use colors and to aim for an even, pleasing gray. If you opt for black, you more or less cannot get a clean white background unless you use reflectors and other lights, missing out the background altogether. Although texture is great, it's obvious your background is the same in every shot if people can start to recognize the patterns in the texture.

In this video, John Gress masterfully creates five stunning and completely disparate shoots using only a gray background and creative lighting.

Robert K Baggs's picture

Robert K Baggs is a professional portrait and commercial photographer, educator, and consultant from England. Robert has a First-Class degree in Philosophy and a Master's by Research. In 2015 Robert's work on plagiarism in photography was published as part of several universities' photography degree syllabuses.

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