Photo Credit: Brad Reeve @Hedera, a multiservice boutique agency based in Timaru, NZ.  From high-end editorial to milestone moments and small business shoots, they have packages to suit your needs.

As portrait photographers, we appreciate the significance of every detail in crafting and captivating impactful images. Among these elements, the backdrop plays a pivotal role in determining the overall composition and visual impact of a photograph. If you find yourself pondering which color backdrop to invest in, look no further than the versatile mid grey backdrop. Its incredible flexibility allows photographers to experiment with various moods and styles, granting the freedom to bring their creative visions to life with minimal post-shoot editing.

In this blog post, we are thrilled to explore four distinct lighting techniques, all utilizing the remarkable mid grey backdrop, to achieve four different effects in portrait photography. By altering the lighting and positioning, you can create a diverse and captivating portfolio with just one backdrop. 


Mid Grey Background:

With diffused lighting and your subject relatively close to the background, the mid grey backdrop creates a timeless and sophisticated atmosphere for your portraits perfect for headshots and professional images. This type of lighting can be achieved with th the diffuse light of a well lit room or two diffuse lights angled at 45 degrees to the subject.

smiling teen facing camera with mid grey backdrop

White Background:

With extra lighting the mid grey backdrop can be brightened through the spectrum to total white, allowing your subjects to take center stage without distraction. Direct a light towards the backdrop itself, to 'over expose' it. Make sure you have enough light directly at model to give a bright skin tone. This technique brings a contemporary minimalist look to your images.

teen girl and her dog with bright background

lighting set up to turn a grey backdrop white by CM Props & Backdrops


Black Background:

By moving your subject away from your background and reducing the ambient light you can achieve dramatic lighting techniques, whereby your mid grey backdrop appears black, instantly adding intensity and depth to your portraits. This effect is ideal for creating striking and emotive images that command attention.

To give further visual separation of your model from the backdrop, direct a light to the back of them, producing a rim light.

portrait of teen, looking down using grey backdrop

set up image to get your grey backdrop to look black by CM Props & Backdrops


Coloured Background:


Use flash light gels (heat resistant transparent, coloured plastic sheets) to add a pop of colour and drama to your scene. Have a play with the ambient lighting in the room and your flash/studio light levels to achieve the artistic effect you desire. The closer your subject is to the backdrop, the more coloured light you will get slipping onto them, for creative effects.

photo of teen girl with blue coloured backdrop

lighting set up using coloured gel to change backdrop colour by CM Props & Backdrops

As you embark on your portrait photography journey, consider the endless possibilities that the mid grey backdrop can unlock. Its adaptability empowers you to craft a wide array of effects, from timeless elegance to modern minimalism and everything in between. With just this one grey backdrop and a dash of imagination, you can create a diverse and captivating portfolio that reflects your distinct style and artistic vision!



July 30, 2023 — Catherine Main