If you’ve ever wanted to step up your portrait photography, investing in a high-quality photo backdrop is essential.
No matter how basic your photo studio, a good backdrop can make it look professional and provide the background necessary for some amazing portraits.
In this article, we’ll be taking a closer look at two products I was sent to review from a Chinese company called Katebackdrop.
Who is Katebackdrop?
Since 2013, Katebackdrop has been using microfiber fabric for manufacturing thick, soft, wrinkle-free backdrops for photographers.
The majority of the backdrops are computer printed, but they also offer some hand-painted canvas backdrops too.
Katebackdrop produces seamless backdrops up 3 metres wide, featuring an optional hem and pocket so that they can be hung easily on a rail or frame.
‘Kate’ is actually the name of the wife of David, the founder of the Katebackdrop brand.
See also our review of the Christmas Tree Katebackdrop.
Abstract Texture Old Master Dark Brown Backdrop Photo Studio
This is the backdrop I was sent to review, arriving in less than a week (from China to Australia).
Included in the box was a frame kit to hang the backdrop, which I’ll review later.
Since this backdrop is microfiber, it’s very lightweight, which can be a good thing if you’re using a weaker frame to hang it.
On the flip side, if you’re mounting the backdrop near a draught, it may be prone to flapping – in this case, I’d recommend clipping it to the ground or simply hanging clips from it to add weight near the edges.
The pattern itself looks great, with a strong vignette drawing the eye to the centre of the backdrop.
The vignette is almost black at the four corners but falls off quickly so the backdrop can be used equally well for full-length portraits as it can for headshots.
The ‘pocket’ on the top is a handy touch for hanging the backdrop from a frame – I thought this would be standard on backdrops from other manufacturers, but apparently, it isn’t.
Other than the look of the backdrop in photos, the biggest plus is the fact that it can be folded numerous times for easy storage without any worry of creasing.
I found that in practice, despite using the clips, creases were slightly visible, but these could be easily removed by stretching the fabric and leaving it overnight, or ironing it.
For my needs shooting portraits at a wide aperture, the backdrop was thrown out of focus, so any slight creasing wasn’t an issue.
For those of us without any permanent backdrop hanging space in our studios, this is convenient – we can simply take down the backdrop when it’s not in use, and fold it up to store.
Being microfiber, you’re also able to wash and dry the backdrop – I didn’t test this, but apparently, it’s completely safe to dry in a dryer.
There are several sizes available – here’s a graphic produced by Katebackdrop which shows how they relate to the average individual or group portraits.
As you can see in the photos of my home garage, any space can be turned into a photo studio with a good backdrop.
This offers the opportunity of creating a side business for any photographer looking to expand into portraits or headshots.
The above image was just a test shot, but you get the idea of what can be done with a simple lighting set-up and a nice backdrop like this.
Kate 3×2.8m Frame Kit
In order to properly and safely hang the Katebackdrop, it’s advisable to use their own stand, aka a frame kit.
These are more of an investment than the backdrop itself – you’ll no doubt be tempted by various cheaper backdrop stand kits, but it’s important not to skimp on quality at this point.
The Kate Frame Kit feels good quality and durable, without being unnecessarily heavy or bulky.
It weighs 5kg and can be extended to its maximum size of 3m wide x 2.8m high.
If you’ve ever used a c-stand or any other kind of generic lighting stand, you’ll be familiar with the frame kit and how everything is held together.
It only took me a couple of minutes to erect the stand – if you had an extra set of hands, you could probably do it in under a minute – it’s very straightforward.
Included with the stand are 2 sets of four clips that hold the backdrop in place and prevent it from moving too much when your subjects walk on it (if it’s a seamless backdrop that extends under their feet).
All in all, I had nothing to complain about with the backdrop and stand.
The prices are affordable, allowing you to create a portrait photo studio out of any space you may have in your home.
There are plenty of backdrop designs to choose from, as well as several sale products which are great if you’re on a tight budget.
Nice review. I use Kates pop up backdrops and like them very much. I enjoy your newsletter a lot.
Im a gear head…always looking for what next. I was slow to move to digital (just 4 years ago) and still using dslr. Just waiting to see what and when to jump in the mirrorless market. Curious what gear are you currently using? Jeff
I’m using a Sony a7III, Jeff – love it!