How to Get the Most Out of White Seamless Photography

Tony Mandarich shows a little humor with his girlfriend on a white seamless background

Of all the photography commercial photographers shoot, photography on white seamless is the most common. It’s definitely a fashion photography mainstay. A white cove, or “cyc” (short for cyclorama) in a larger studio, is booked at our north Dallas rental photo studio 20 times more often than any other studio. Available seamless papers in varying colors are only used about 5% of the time.

Why is this so popular? Quite simply because it’s easier to drop out the background in your images if you are dropping the subject into a print layout. Catalogs and the like will often feature text wrapped around a subject. Current design trends favor a subject blending in with the page rather than being constrained by a box. Likewise a baseboard on a background wall would be distracting when the focus of an image is on a model or clothing.

Morton Visuals shoots fashion models on white seamless

Static Posing

Carolina Guanabara by William Morton MakeupHairStyling by Mary Erickson

Fashion and catalogs often show an expressionless model “just standing there,” as some describe it. Many feel that this makes a white seamless background looks plain or boring. There’s no color, no texture, and essentially nothingness. If the photographer doesn’t light the white background it can look like a shade of gray (as pictured at left). This example shows the model “in a box,” which a designer may not want in the layout. Compare this to the example at right. Either way you still have a subject. And a subject doesn’t have to “just stand there.” You can always concentrate on bringing out the model’s personality and featuring it. Or better yet add some motion!


Active Posing

Below are a few examples of images we’ve captured on a plain, boring white seamless background. The background of these samples have been adjusted so as to not “float in midair,” so that you can see the image frames. Adjusting for the effect of the top image (of the two young models) in this post is easily achieved in processing. As you can see, once the photographer has built rapport with the subject or subjects, they can collaborate to create some fun, interesting images.

Cassie Kociemba jumps for joy on white seamless
The St Johns get interactive

Technical Considerations for White Seamless

Some general considerations to keep in mind for photographing (anything) on white seamless:

  • Light your background separately from your foreground
  • If you want to totally knock out your background, expose it at an RGB value of 250-255. (The closer to 255 the better.)
    • If you shoot tethered, this is easy to monitor in your software (like Capture One or Lightroom).
    • If you use a light meter, you typically want to expose the background at about 2 stops brighter than your subject (metering at the background).
    • If all else fails, turn the “blinkies” on for your camera’s playback view and increase your background exposure until the white background blinks.
  • Do not blast your background too much, as you may end up with flare in your lens.
  • When shooting full-length, unless you have your subject on a reflective plexiglass, your floor will look gray. You can reduce this by adding an additional light aimed at the floor in front of your subject. Be sure to feather that so that it doesn’t blast your subjects! And note that it will lighten any shadows on your subject.

What can you think of doing with a “plain white background?” White seamless can work with anything that ties in with your job, activities, or interests. In other words, anything that is “you.” And it can help make your images much more dynamic. And dynamic images sell!

Have some ideas? Leave a comment! Want to talk about how Morton Visuals can help you look dynamic? Give us a call! We’d love to show you what we can do.

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William Morton Owner
William Morton has been a professional photographer since 1991. Now focused on corporate photography, William travels the country providing commercial, corporate, and event photography services.

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