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How To Set Up Seamless Paper Without an Assistant

Working with photo assistants can often make your life easier. Having someone who can do the heavy lifting for you can leave you free to concentrate on working with your client on a shoot. When you don’t have to worry about moving nightstands or doing light checks, you can put more effort into creating a memorable experience for your client.

Although it is desirable to work with an assistant, there are several reasons you might work alone. Sometimes, your budget doesn’t allow for the hiring of an assistant. Or, it may be the case that you have money to pay an assistant, but you’ve worked alone and pocket those funds for yourself. Other times, the location for the shoot doesn’t allow for extra people. It is also possible that you booked an assistant, but there was a last-minute cancelation, and you have to do the shoot alone.

If you find yourself in any of these scenarios, it is important that you can complete all the tasks required on the shoot without assistance. In this video, I detail a step-by-step process you can use to set up a roll of 9’ Seamless Background Paper by yourself. The paper is mounted on an Avenger Mini Boom Arm, which is mounted an Avenger C-Stand. You will also need an A-Clamp. I have used this method dozens of times, and I believe it will work for you as well.

John Ricard's picture

John Ricard is a NYC based portrait photographer. You can find more of Ricard’s work on his Instagram. accounts, www.instagram.com/JohnRicard and www.instagram.com/RicInAction

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I do it in a similar way but make sure the larger leg is on the inside, not outward as in the video. Also, it never hurts to use a sandbag or two on each stand.

That’s a good point about placing the larger leg inside. I never gave it much thought.

TL; DW, but I got some used heavy-duty roller stands fairly cheap, and then use 3/4" electrical conduit and appropriate right-angle fittings between them. I put the background paper on that, and simply roll it where I want it — or out of the way against a wall, when I'm not using it.

Great instructional video John. This is stuff you can only learn by being on set and actually doing it yourself. In my experience, both as a shooter working by myself, and as an assistant back in the day; loosening the knuckles on the grip arm offers you great flexibility, which, makes for easier control of the seamless and stands/arms as you get the roll into place.