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I'm doing a shoot for a friend in a couple of weeks (lucky me, she makes lingerie for a living) and I was wondering about backdrops. I'm currently considering various colours of seamless paper, but I was also wondering if the extra expense on the canvas/muslin side was worth it. In general, is there any major advantages/disadvantages to either option that people are familiar with? Other than cost, which is fairly obvious.

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Only because I think it might make a difference on the recommendation, are you photographing the model or the "clothes" off the model? – rfusca Jan 23 '11 at 19:22
They'll be modelled, we're looking at pinup and boudoir (tasteful) styles as the starting point. – John Cavan Jan 23 '11 at 19:25
See also this more general question What kind of backdrop works best for a home studio setup? – mattdm Jan 6 '12 at 20:30
up vote 10 down vote accepted

A few random thoughts, from which you can draw conclusions:

  • seamless paper is cheaper but it's an ongoing expense, the cloth would be a one-time purchase
  • the cloth backdrop requires being kept clean
  • easier to pull the seamless out a long way and run it curving down onto the floor and under your subject for, um, more seamless look, especially with a white background
  • a cloth backdrop is a lot easier to ship/transport
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Thanks, good points! – John Cavan Jan 23 '11 at 19:27
Didn't feel like this was worth a 'full answer,' but it is possible to make white and black seamless paper last longer... A lot longer in fact... For about $20 you can buy white or black shower stall material (get the non-textured kind) and then simply lay it down over the paper 'tail' on the floor and have people stand on that. No more paper rips. Paper lasts just about forever. The last time I cut a section out of my white roll was because a kid punched a hole in it... Up 'till that point I'd been using the same 15 feet of it for more than a year, simply rolling it back up after each use. – Jay Lance Photography Jan 24 '11 at 7:37

I have been playing with these 2 options myself - so far I do find that the seamless paper is the better option, I find the canvas is a real pain to keep clean. However paper is heavy to keep around, bulky and needs replacing.

I also found lighting the paper easier - possibly my canvas wasn't opaque enough?

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