Do you use a sweep in your portrait or large product photography? Sure a roll of paper several yards in length is necessary for photographing people and large products, but what about food and small products? Walking into a bakery or the back of a kitchen with two C stands and a large roll of paper is not going to work in the often small kitchen shooting environments. Whether I am shooting a bakery's new product line or a confectionery's holiday catalog, I need a lightweight sweep system that I can quickly set up on a table. Here is a portable and inexpensive system that I have developed.
If you have never used a sweep to create a seamless background take a look at the above picture. On the left is a cupcake on a foam board background with no sweep. Can you see the seam created where the two pieces of foam board meet? The image on the right has no seam. This seamless white background in caused by a poster board sweep. Here is what goes into the system.
For this set-up, you will need two pieces of white foam board, two A clamps, two right angle metal brackets, a piece of flexible white poster board, and tape.
Use the clamps to attach the poster board to the vertical piece of the metal bracket. Place the second piece of foam board over the horizontal bracket. The result will be two pieces of foam board that meet at a 90 degree angle. If your boards begin to tip backward, adjust the positioning of your clamps so that the two pieces of foam board will stand freely.
To get rid of the seam created where the two boards meet, tape the top of the poster board to the vertical board. Attach the poster board high enough so that you can create the sweeping curve shape seen above. Place your subject on the bottom of this curve.
By shooting on a seamless background, you won't have to spend time in Photoshop retouching out the seam. If you are shooting one or two, retouching the seam isn't too bad. When shooting a dozen or more products on white, shooting on a seamless background will save you a lot of time.
If your client wants something a little more creative than just white, this set up works with fabric as well! Here is an example using a place mat.
Want to learn more about food photography? For more tips, tricks, and tutorials, check out issues 1-8 of photographing FOOD!
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