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Easy DIY Photography Backdrop & Silhouttes

Today I thought I’d show you how I transform my family room into a studio & set up my photo-shoots in less than 5 mins and how the setup I used for the silhouette shots. Truly!

silhouette photography backdrop setup
1. Our family room has lovely big windows which let in lots of natural light so I simply slide the lounge out of the way to expose a blank wall (besides the hanging art) which faces the window and I’m good to go.

I prefer to shoot with natural light so this is perfect.

2. I have two painters extension poles (pics 1-4) which I have added a rubber stopper to the ceiling end (pic 5). I simply extend to the height of the ceiling and lock. Two poles cost around $48 from Bunnings (Australia)

3. I have an old white faux-satin King size sheet which I use. Unfortunately it has a seam through the middle but I can usually cleverly hide this in this pic or clone it out with PS afterwards if necessary. The trick here is to have the subject stand away from the backdrop so that it is out of focus or over expose it so that it blows out … I do love high key photography.

I also have a large black faux-satin sheet and some interesting fabrics which I can drape over the white or black if I want a different effect. Fairy lights & similar also work well to give a night bokeh light effect.

4. The backdrop sheet is simply clamped to the poles with a couple of small clamps (pic 4) – too easy!

5. The lights I use (pic 6) are simply $25 (Bunnings again) workman lights that pump out a massive 500w each. (They get extremely hot so don’t touch or put anything too close and watch where you place them for safety issues). They come with halogen globes which give off a yellow light which works if you want a warmish feel otherwise you can get white light globes for them. The telescopic stand extends to 1.6m off the ground.

These lights are just placed behind my backdrop for the silhouette effect.

Now obviously I took these photos at night with no other lighting on just the worklights from behind.

And that’s it.

If I’ve missed anything or you have questions or comments please leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you.


  1. [...] a white sheet as a backdrop with some high powered work lights behind.  You can view the actual setup details [...]

  2. Di Emus
    Jun 10, 2008

    Thank you for that. I love my photography but am not familiar with the technical side of things. I have two boys and another baby on the way in 2 weeks and i really wanted to take a silhouette of myself.

    What aperture should I use and speed of film etc, this is what i am stuck on. Any help would be just brilliant.

    Many thanks, Di

  3. IntoFotos
    Jun 10, 2008

    Hi Di

    Thanks for commenting .. you will need to have all the lights off except for the light behind the screen.

    Here is my exif data to help you out. You can work around this to suit your own scenario but it will give you a base to work with.

    Pic (1) Boy
    Exposure: 0.002 sec (1/500)
    Aperture: f/5.6
    Focal Length: 46 mm
    ISO Speed: 200
    Exposure Bias: 0/6 EV

    Pic (2) Girl
    Exposure: 0.003 sec (1/400)
    Aperture: f/5.6
    Focal Length: 52 mm
    ISO Speed: 200
    Exposure Bias: 0/6 EV

  4. [...] Shoot your silhouette images with the instructions here [...]

  5. johnny
    Dec 30, 2008

    Thanks for good post

  6. Shaun
    Apr 26, 2010

    I would like to express my appreciation for your post. That’s really great to know that there are such people like you who do their job very well and with such enthusiasm.

  7. Sherell Greaux
    Apr 29, 2010

    Great info! I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

  8. Ricky Cervenak
    Apr 29, 2010

    That is some inspirational stuff. Never knew that opinions could be this varied. Thanks for all the enthusiasm to offer such helpful information here.

  9. Karoline Carpino
    Apr 30, 2010

    Just wanted to give you a shout from the valley of the sun, great information. Much appreciated.

  10. Dennis Fanny
    May 01, 2010

    Thank you for the sensible critique. Me & my neighbour were preparing to do some research about that. We got a good book on that matter from our local library and most books where not as influensive as your information. I am very glad to see such information which I was searching for a long time.This made very glad!

  11. renderers
    May 05, 2010

    Gotta enjoy the effort you place into this blog :)

  12. Mitchel Rabbe
    May 14, 2010

    Those are some fantastic images, wish mine were that excellent!

  13. Moises
    Nov 04, 2012

    My god i really enjoy great photos

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