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Cotton Muslin vs. Seamless Paper Backdrops for Photography: Which One is Right for You?

7 Minute Read


OK, so you’re looking for a backdrop, but aren’t sure whether seamless paper backdrops or cotton muslin ones are the right choice. We’re going to take a look at the different features of each type of backdrops for photography to help you choose the one that’s right for you.


Backdrops are large pieces of fabric or paper used on a stand or a roll to give a smooth and even background to your subject. They come in different colours and types such as:

  • Cotton muslin
  • Seamless paper
  • Pop-up backdrops

What are Cotton Muslin Backdrops?

  Cotton muslin backdrops like our Cotton Muslin Backdrops are perfect for portrait, product, fashion, baby photography, and shooting video. They come in a variety of sizes so you can find one that will work for half or full-body shots. 

 

They need clamping to a stand and pulling taut to give the best look, and several of our Large Peg Clamps will help get that smooth look when used with a backdrop stand. You can also pin cotton muslin backdrops to a wall.
 


What are Seamless Paper Backdrops?

Seamless paper backdrops come in half or full-size rolls like the  Half Paper Backdrops, and the Full Paper Backdrops so you can choose one that fits your space and the type of photos you want to take. 

Paper rolls need to be used with a sturdy backdrop stand to keep the roll safe and stable while you’re shooting. Seamless paper backdrops can be used for all the same things that cotton muslin ones can.


Pros of Cotton Muslin Backdrops 

 There are several advantages to using cotton muslin backdrops, including:

  • Portability - they fold or roll up to be put in a bag and weight much less than a paper roll. This makes them a good choice for location shoots or for travelling to a client’s house.
  • Durability - muslins are tougher than paper and will last much longer than a roll
  • Cotton muslins have more of a texture to them than the clean seamlessness of paper which a lot of photographers like
  • Muslins tend to be less reflective than paper rolls so can be easier to light
  • Reusable - if your muslin gets dirty, then you can just pop it in the washing machine and steam it to remove any wrinkles when dry
  • More economical - a cotton muslin backdrop will last for many years if taken care of

    As well as the Cotton muslin Backdrops in a variety of bolder colours, there’s our new ‘Pastel Palette’ Muslin Backdrop (3X3M) or ‘Pastel Palette’ Muslin Backdrop (3X6M)


    The ‘Pastel Palette’ range comes in a variety of gorgeous soft colours and are ideal for fashion, portrait, product, or family photography:

    • Holy Guacamole Green
    • Pink Salmon
    • Clean Slate Grey (Dark Grey)
    • Waterfall Grey (Light Grey)
    • Buttercream


    Pros of Seamless Paper Backdrops

    Rolls of seamless paper backdrops are often found in professional photography studios where there is plenty of space to store the rolls. 

    You need to use a backdrop stand with paper rolls, and they come in two sizes - Half Paper Backdrops and the Full Paper Backdrops so you can choose the size to suit your space. Although seamless paper is not as easy to transport or store as cotton muslin, it does have its own advantages:

    • Great for large spaces and studios
    • Recycle the soiled paper and/or the cardboard inner tube when you are done
    • Seamless paper gives a clean, smooth-looking background - ideal for product and ecommerce
    • No need to steam wrinkles out - just cut the soiled part of the paper off and pull out a fresh, new backdrop
    • Paper can give you a flawless infinity sweep that is great for taking images on a pure white background with no shadows



    How to Set Up a Cotton Muslin Backdrop

    Although you can tack your cotton muslin backdrop to a wall or doorframe, a good backdrop stand like the Paper Backdrop Stand will make working with them so much easier.


    Iron or steam your cotton muslin to get any wrinkles out first - unless you’re going for a grungy, wrinkled backdrop!



    The backdrop stand can be set to any height by raising the stands and crossbar. The cotton muslin backdrop is stretched taut and held securely on the crossbar and sides by several
    Backdrop Peg Clamps to give a smooth, wrinkle-free backdrop.


    Alternatively you can use two or more backdrops of the same colour pinned to the crossbar so that they drape down in elegant folds instead of a flat and smooth surface.



    Conclusion


    It’s not so much about which type of backdrop is the best, because both have their strong points. It’s about which type is best for you and the photography or videography you do. Space, storage, and transporting as well as price are all factors that will contribute to your final decision, but both types of backdrop can be used for any photography shoot.



    Here’s a couple of extra tips on using backdrops for you:

    • Use a hand-held steamer to get the wrinkles out of cotton muslin - it’s far easier and quicker than ironing acres of cloth!
    • Try rolling your muslin up instead of folding to store it as it will get less creases and wrinkles that way. Use an old cardboard core tube from a used up roll of seamless and roll your muslin round the tube.
    • If you haven’t got time or opportunity to get the creases out but don’t want them in your photos, then shoot with a larger aperture and get your subject to stand or sit some distance from the backdrop to reduce the obvious wrinkles.
    • Store your paper rolls upright to protect the edges from damage. Stop it unrolling by clamping the roll at top and bottom.



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