Workshop May 2010

Another great workshop came to a close tonight.  For the second time we made a 8×8 ft canvas backdrop.  The only difference was two attendees got to take the backgrounds with them that we all made.  Wow, what a bonus.  The images show everyone working on one of the backgrounds.

We stapled the #12 duck onto my wall then painted the cloth with inexpensive flat house paint from Home DePot.  Buying 100 yards with shipping brings the cost of a 8×9 ft piece to $21. each.  I searched quite a bit and this companies prices were by far the best.  The second step was to trowel on Venetian Plaster from Home DePot.  Troweling is an art form but it’s also very forgiving.  Sometimes the mistakes can actually make the background even better.

On Saturday night Michael and I started a new background that turned out great.  I mentioned on Sunday morning that we could turn over the backdrop and sponge paint a whole new look.    Nugget!  (that’s what Michael calls them)  So the guys popped out all the staples and we re-stapled the background and I sponged painted.  Ohh La La a two sided backdrop…cool

The background really starts coming together after trimming all four sides.  You see the guys stapling the cloth onto a $3 plastic pipe from Home Depot. I use an upholstery staple gun I have left over from making my tufted squares.  It takes the stress off the roll if you staple the edge then roll it around again and staple twice.

Michael Carr of Houston, Texas mentioned he bought two backgrounds the same size at the WPPI show which were stapled once along the top, stress started to pop the staples immediately.  He paid $400 each for the backgrounds so he was happy to actually make a background from the workshop.  I’ll be shipping it as soon as I recover from the last three days.

Oh, that’s right, Michael won a spot to the workshop from being a blog subscriber!  Wow, what a bonus.  Michael flew all the way in from Texas last minute and I’m sure he really enjoyed himself, his notebook seemed to fill up with nuggets.  One of the things I mentioned to Michael is that he could use the backdrops on an angle versus using them straight on.  I then put a ladder with sandbags and  4×8 ft Styrofoam panel behind it and the model can really lean against it, versus just standing in front of it.

The funniest part of the whole weekend was the rental car Michael got stuck with at the airport.  I’ve never seen this car before and I hope to never see it again. It’s called the “Cube”.  Let’s just say he wasn’t exactly stylin when he was in Detroit.  He said “no wonder the hot chick at the counter laughed!”

Thanks to everyone who participated this weekend David, Dan, Michael and Susan.  The make artists were Tammy Pore and Debbie Darakdjian who always do a wonderful job.   Models Tiffany Stone, a seasoned pro and talented new comer Andrea.

My next workshop will be July 24 & 25 2010.

8 comments category: Backgrounds,Props,Workshop

1 Fred Guerra June 9, 2010 at 9:01 am

Thanks for clarifying. Can’t wait to try this! I already buy “fun” fabrics at JoAnn’s and other fabric stores, as well as buying sheers from Ikea. I think I prefer the solid white and black because I was a big fan of Alberto Vargas (Varga girls) and loved the way his subjects “floated” in space.


2 Mary DuPrie June 8, 2010 at 1:58 pm

YES YES YES….We troweled on Venetian Plaster onto these backgrounds…it’s latex and flexible. I have it on styerene sheets that I even roll up!!

It’s my favorite to put on background…give it a try

You can even sponge paint it on the canvas (I make the canvas very wet before i sponge paint it though)

I’m pretty familiar with Loews and i don’t think they carry an equivalent product


3 Fred Guerra June 8, 2010 at 1:36 pm

I really appreciate the how-to info. I’m curious as to whether or not the plaster is flexible enough to allow the duck backgrounds to roll up. I stopped by Lowe’s (no Home Depot on my way home from dentist) and the stuff they had would “probably crack,” according to the salesgal. The backdrops I see at my local photo supply shop look more like stains than paint.

Thanks and keep up the great work! I’ve already gotten lots of ideas to help liven up my photos!


4 Mary DuPrie May 25, 2010 at 9:38 pm

You’re all very welcome, it was my pleasure.


5 Houston Wedding Photographers May 25, 2010 at 3:50 pm


I just wanted to thank you for a wonderful workshop experience. I left your workshop exhausted, yet inspired. You went over and beyond the call of duty with your time and training material. The custom background you helped me create is simply amazing and a piece of art in itself. Although I have been shooting professionally for sixteen years, I continue to walk away from your workshops with so many “nuggets” of information. You are an extremely creative and resourceful artist not to mention a gifted photographer who knows no fear. I highly recommend your workshop to anyone interested in photographing people for a living. I believe in this competitive market one must diversify themselves and seek out the knowledge to grow their business. Again, thank you for your time and I wish you much success.

Michael Carr
Houston, Texas


6 Susan Ashe May 24, 2010 at 9:01 pm

Mary I had a wonderful time at your workshop — my head is exploding with information and my cards are full of gorgeous images thanks to your guidance, the beautiful models — Andrea and Tiffany, the makeup artistry of Debbie and the great camaraderie and helpfulness of your students. This is not a workshop limited to models and commercial photographers — I left inspired and full of ideas on how to apply your training to my portrait and wedding business. Thank you Mary!!!!


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