Being advised to stay at home for now due to the recent Corona crisis I decided to show you how to take your photography indoors by building a professional studio photography backdrop support for less than 450 bucks using a set of Autopoles, Manfrotto Super Clamps, a seamless paper backdrop and a wall mount kit.
A space-saving backdrop solution
When I was looking for a way to set up a studio space in my apartment it had to be space-saving. That was my number one requirement. I didn’t want to fool around with 3-legged light stands taking over the floor but rather make use of the high walls in my living room. So my initial idea was to get a simple wall mount which I figured comes with another huge downside though. Once installed to a wall or to the ceiling I wouldn’t be able to easily relocate my backdrop if I ever decided to move any furniture for example. That lack of flexibility was another no-go for me and so I did some research and that’s when I learned about this setup I’m going to show you right here. Let’s take a look at what we need and how much everything costs first. I have linked all the products for you if you want to look them up yourself:
The first thing you wanna get is a set of Autopoles from Calumetphoto for 158€. These are extendable poles with a lever mechanism to tightly lock them between your floor and your ceiling. I choose to go with Autopoles because they take up way less space on the floor compared to a regular light stand and you can easily place them close to the corners of your room.
The next thing you want to add to your cart is a seamless paper backdrop. They are available in all different colors and sizes the most popular of which is 107 inches. That’s about 2,72 meters and this sizes gives me a lot of flexibility because I can shoot groups of up to five people without running out of background space. I also measured that it is gonna perfectly fit on the wall that separates my living room from the bedroom. Once again I’d suggest to buy it of Calumetphoto because they don’t charge extra money for oversized shipments like Autopoles or paper backdrops in this case.
Let’s move on to our next component. Neewer offers a complete wall mounting kit for 58€ on Amazon that consists of 2 trifold hooks, 6 expander bars and 3 chains plus counterweights. Honestly I was a bit skeptical about the quality of that kit but having read all the positives Amazon reviews I decided to give it a go and I wasn’t disappointed so far. It does the job and if it ever fails I’m maybe upgrading to Manfrotto expanders. But for now this kit just saves me a lot of money.
Speaking of Manfrotto – the next thing on the shopping list are 4 pieces of the classic Manfrotto Super Clamp. We will use them in this backdrop setup to connect the trifold hooks to the Autopoles with two clamps on each side. That equals 4 in total for about 80€ on Amazon.
We continuing the shopping list with some more clamps. This time it’s a set of 8 standard Utebit clamps for only 10€ on Amazon. When everything is finished they clip onto the seamless paper acting as counterweights to make it roll up and down smoother.
Aluminium Pipes – 68€
The last and most likely the only thing you can’t get online are 3 pieces of aluminium pipes. They act as support for the paper core to prevent it from sagging. It’s important that they have a diameter of 50mm and they also need to be a little bit longer than your roll of seamless paper. After measuring my room I figured that I need them to be 2.84m to reach all the way from the left trifold hook to the right. I ended up getting the pipes at a local hardware store for 68€ which already included the fees for a cutting them according to the specs I provided.
How to set up your backdrop support
- Step 1: Attach two Manfrotto super clamps to each of your trifold hooks with regular Philipps screws.
- Step 2: Take your Autopoles, measure 15 cm from the top to add a little bit of spacing between the upper hook and your ceiling. Then attach the the hooks to your Autopoles using the Manfrotto super clamps.
- Step 3: Get your aluminium pipe and wrap a piece of carpet grip tape around both ends to improve the grip between the metal pipe and the core of your seamless paper. Now slide your pipe into the seamless paper core.
- Step 4: Attach the expander bars to both sides of the aluminium pipe.
- Step 5: Place your Autopoles between the floor and ceiling as straight as you can and pull down on the lever to lock them in place. Lift up the pipes and place them in your trifold hooks.
- Step 6: Attach the chain and counterweight to each slot and make sure everything is rotating nice and easy.