With time, you tend to get more and more gear for your photo studio. Light modifiers, flashes, lenses, various clamps and reflectors… it goes on and on. All that gear needs a place to be stored. Especially seamless papers since they're fragile, take up a respectable amount of place and you have a lot of them. So, I have found a way to store them that is fun and easy to build. First off, I want to say that the main idea comes from commercial photographer Rob Grimm. I have adapted it to fit my needs.
Savage, the industry standard for background papers, offers seamless in sizes ranging from 26 inches to 107 inches wide. What I like about the smaller size is that it's they're cheap and small-ish to ship. That means you can get a lot of colours for not a lot of money. And trust me, background papers are to photographers what knives are too a chef, there are never enough. You may agree with me that 26 inches wide is not a lot and will you cram your setup down using it. Since the 26 inches model comes in the length of 36 feet, we can easily cut it in half and then tape the two together to produce a 52 inches wide background that’s still about 6 meters long.
Now, to do this you’ll want to measure not once but twice to make sure the cut is exactly at the right place. When you have your two pieces, you need to place them on a flat surface that is at least 6 m long by 52 inches wide. After, go grab a roll of painters tape and place some tape along the edges of the two pieces of paper so that they don't move while you're taping the middle. This is crucial. We want to keep as little a gap as possible in the middle and to achieve this they must not move. Then, you want to make sure you're using some Tuck Tape to unify the two and not duct tape nor painter’s tape as they’re way to weak. You want to go slowly and pieces by pieces (about two feet long). Make sure there aren't any wrinkles and when it's all taped up, I recommend applying some strong pressure with the roll of tape on the seam to make sure it will be stick to it for long. Alright, now you have your new 52 inches wide by 6 feet long Savage paper background. If you did it correctly, even you will have a hard time discerning the joining point the middle. And seing that the paper is now two times it’s original width, it can go farther from the camera and, thus, be more blurred out. Even shooting at f/8, I swear you won't see any differences.
Since the background is now two times larger, you cannot use the cardboard roll that it came on. So, I have found a replacement. It is a PVC pipe that is used in central vacuum systems. “Why not just a regular pipe?”, you may ask. Well, this one is lighter and generally less expensive. I suggest that you take the 2 inches diameter one as it is not too large not too small, just perfect. You can easily cut it to the appropriate size using a regular handsaw.
Once that's done, go back to your seamless and put a piece of tape on the width of it, making sure that about half of the width of the tape is sticking to the Savage paper and that the sticky side is facing up. You want to take your PVC pipe and stick it to the other half. Make sure there aren't any wrinkles and that it's clean and turn the old thing upside down. Now, apply another piece of tape on the new side. You can now just roll it and make sure it stays in place by using pieces of painter’s tape. And that’s it. You're done with the seamless
What we want to do is a hanging system where the papers will be floating in air and, thus, will be protected from ripping apart. In my studio, I have some wires in the ceiling that are for speakers that I haven’t yet installed. If you don't, you can just screw in an eye hook and tie a strong knot with the cord. The cord in question doesn't really matter. Just use what you have at home. As far as length goes, I’d just add a foot to the length of your background. That will ensure that we have some play room.
In my case, the stopper at the bottom is a 1.6cm diameter wood stick measuring 14 cm. I Drilled a quarter inch hole in the middle of this bad boy. I then used some white spray paint to make it prettier (of course, this is optional). A quick sand with the 220 sandpaper will complete the operation.
Just put the rope trough it, tie a knot and the whole project is done. Your papers can hang there and rest in peace.
What's nice about this setup is that your infinite collection of papers will no longer take some precious storing space. Furthermore, I think it looks kind of cool with the rolls of different colours just hanging there. You can also use the same method to store Savage Translums. To differentiate which different light modifier is each one, just put a tab of painter’s tape with its description written on it inside the tube at the bottom.
I love DIY projects. I'm always looking for some and today, I decided to show you one. If you got any that you think are worthwhile, you can drop them in the comments below. Thanks for reading!